About Britain

Dust jacket of W. G. Hoskins, 'About Britain No. 8: East Midlands and the Peak' (Collins / Festival of Britain: London, 1951)

Geoffrey Grigson (ed.), About Britain Guides, 1951 These books are from a set of thirteen travel guides published in parallel with the Festival of Britain. They were edited by poet, author, and naturalist Geoffrey Grigson. Grigson also wrote two volumes himself: West Country and Wessex. As with the examples shown here and other aspects of […]

‘Tabloid’ First Aid Kit


This first aid kit was made by the pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome, which produced a wide range of specialised kits – for explorers, the army and civilians, of which this is one. The Burroughs Wellcome & Company was founded in 1880, in London, by the American pharmacists Henry Wellcome and Silas Burroughs. The company produced […]

Obstetric Forceps

Stainless steel obstetric forceps (BMHC 2010.16.15). Image copyright Berkshire Medical History Centre.

Stainless steel obstetric forceps, 1950s These obstetric forceps are among a handful of artefacts on loan to The MERL from the Berkshire Medical History Centre, the wider collection of which is housed at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. The forceps are part of a set used by a General Practice doctor in the mid-twentieth century. Like […]

Tooth Extractor

Tooth extractor (MERL 51/190)

The tooth key, or extractor,  is a most primitive device, invented in the 17th century, for extracting teeth – the claw is placed on the inside of tooth and the device is then rotated, using the outside part of the gum (often badly traumatised in the process). Proper dentistry only started to become widely available […]


Founder of Glastonbury Festival, Michael Eavis' green wellies

Wellies are an essential part of English outdoor clothing. Come rain, flood, hail or snow, wellies will keep your feet warm and dry. These ones were owned and used by Michael Eavis, dairy farmer and founder of Glastonbury Festival. Wellies were designed for people who worked in the countryside, but you’re now just as likely […]


Mattress (MERL 61/242)

This mattress was found walled up in a house in Titchfield, Hampshire, and may date from the seventeenth century or earlier. It consists of thick plaits of three, sewn together and made of Carex, a type of sedge. The underneath is fluffy, like carpet pile, and is probably unfinished. Such mattresses were used either for […]

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