Birds and Men

Detail of title page of Edward Max Nicholson, Birds and Men (London: Collins, 1951)

Edward Max Nicholson, Birds and Men (London: Collins, 1951) Published in 1951 and penned by conservationist Max Nicholson, Birds and Men was the seventeenth volume in the Collins New Naturalist series and the first of these influential texts to focus on birdlife. This iconic series is said to be the longest running of its kind, […]

Another Animal Farm

Eileen Mayo, Animals on the Farm (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1951) (Children's Collection 630-May).

Eileen Mayo, Animals on the Farm (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1951) The images in this children’s book offered a vision of an old-fashioned and mixed farm economy, complete with heavy horses, poultry, cattle, goats, pigs, sheep, and other creatures. Along with the detailed text these images offered a nostalgic story of farming at a time when agriculture was undergoing […]

Chicken in a Basket

Ose poultry basket (MERL 60/770)

Poultry basket, Ose, 1945–1946 Mid-century craft expert Muriel Rose bought this poultry basket, or Ose, from Highland Home Industries in Edinburgh during the 1940s. It was one of many handmade items sourced by her on behalf of the British Council who at that time established a significant collection of rural craft objects. Much of this material […]

Elite Cow

Waddingtons, Grade Up To Elite Cow board game, 1986 (MERL 2010/34)

Waddingtons, Grade Up to Elite Cow board game, 1986 This extraordinary game saw players attempt to ‘grade up’ their imaginary dairy cattle to pedigree status via Monopoly-style gameplay. They navigated the board collecting semen to improve their herd and in doing so it was hoped that real farmers might feel encouraged to focus on livestock […]

The Country Year

Painting showing people at work harvesting potatoes

Barry Evans and William Kempster, Designs for The Country Year, 1951 The MERL holds five of these preparatory artworks, originally part of a wider set. The series was reproduced at a larger scale in a ‘merry-go-round’ structure called The Country Year. This sat between exhibits focused on Country Life and Rural Crafts in the Country Pavilion of the […]

Horse Brass

Detail of Armac Brassworks, Festival of Britain horse brass showing date '1951'

Armac Brassworks, Festival of Britain horse brass, 1951 This horse brass is in the shape of the Festival of Britain logo designed by Abram Games. It was one of many popular items sold to commemorate the event, from tea caddy spoons to teapots, badges to biscuit tins. Brasses like this were originally made to adorn […]

Wild Mammals Bulletin

Cover of booklet entitled Wild Mammals and the Land, featuring small images of different animals around the edges

F. Howard Lancum, Wild Mammals and the Land (London: HMSO, 1951) This booklet was Bulletin 150 from a series produced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries (MAFF) during the 1940s and 1950s. These publications offered advice to farmers on management of land and livestock, and sometimes nature. Echoing this latter focus, Bulletin 140 (1948) […]

Sheep bell

Metal sheep bell with handle, seen on its side with clapper visible

Whitechapel Bell Foundry, Sheep bell used as theatre prop, 1950s The Whitechapel Bell Foundry closed in 2017, after more than four centuries of continuous trade, and 250 at the same site. At around the same time they made this bell they also cast a special bell for the 1951 Festival of Britain. The closure of […]

Object-handling at home – the bee skep

In this post our curator, Ollie Douglas, introduces us to bee skeps and helps us to explore their history, construction, and design. He describes some simple, hands-on ways for us to think and learn about how bee-keepers used to house their bees (all without having to leave our own homes). A bee skep is a […]

  • Visit us

    Visit Us

    We are now fully open.

    Free admission.

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

    Plan your visit
  • Visit us

    Visit Us

    We are now fully open.

    Free admission.

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

    Plan your visit