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 Brasses like this were originally made to adorn […]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 […]

The chicken and the egg: the David Scrivener Collection

Which came first? Discover all things poultry, chickens and eggs in our new Staircase Hall exhibition celebrating the completion of the cataloguing of the David Scrivener Collection: The chicken and the egg, from 12th November 2018. Written by Claudia Ricci, Project Cataloguer. Thanks to the generous support of The Poultry Club of Great Britain we […]

The new buzz about bees : the Cowan Bee Collection

Written by Fiona Melhuish, UMASCS Librarian As bees start to buzz around the boughs of spring blossom in the MERL garden, it seems a good time to announce one of our most important recent acquisitions: the Cowan Bee Collection. The collection, which was donated to us by Defra (the Department for Environment Food & Rural […]

Salmon Trap

The best way to trap salmon is to make them trap themselves. So effective is the design of the ‘putcher’ that it has barely changed in 1000 years. Fishermen on the River Severn would arrange dozens of these traps between sticks buried in the mud of the river and forming a wall. The salmon would […]

Miller’s Wagon

Meadcroft of Welwyn et. al., Miller’s wagon, circa 1880 This wagon was acquired by the Museum in 1951. Its survival is testament to the mid-century drive of collectors who sought to rescue rural heritage. Vehicles like these came under threat during the interwar period when other modes of transport came to the fore. This was […]

  • Visit us

    Visit Us

    We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to The MERL galleries from Tuesday 18th May.

    Free admission. Please book a timed slot.

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road


    RG1 5EX

    Book now