Women’s Institute

Pinkneys Green Women’s Institute Banner, circa 1951 (MERL 2007/48/1-2)

Pinkneys Green WI, Women’s Institute Banner, circa 1951 The National Federation of Women’s Institutes was established in 1915. Since that time it has come to play a significant role in the social, cultural, political, and creative life of rural England. This striking textile banner was hand-stitched by members of the Pinkneys Green WI in around […]

51 Voices: A growing understanding

This January, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding year. […]

Queer Constellations: an interview with Daniel Baker

From the 6th July, two artworks by Daniel Baker, Copse and Canopy, will go on display at The MERL as part of our latest display, Queer Constellations. Daniel is a Romani Gypsy born in Kent: an artist, curator and theorist, he holds a PhD on the subject of Gypsy aesthetics from the Royal College of […]

Buildings Of England

Image of map from Buildings of England.

Nikolaus Pevsner, Cornwall (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1951) Published in 1951, Cornwall was the first of The Buildings of England series. It would eventually cover the whole country and reach a total of 46 volumes, standing as a classic and widely-acclaimed interpretation of the the architectural and cultural history of the counties. The series drew to a close in […]

Why travelling matters: engaging schools with our migration stories

Written by Phillippa Heath, Learning and Engagement Manager at The MERL. As part of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month 2021, we have been sharing collections at The MERL that connect to the histories of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people, including objects, archives, photography, art and library collections. These collections tell us so much about […]

From chalk to cheese: the new display in the Our Country Lives gallery

As we get ready to share the Museum with visitors once again, Curator of MERL Collections Ollie Douglas is to hand to reveal a change to our displays. As he explains, this has been in the pipeline since we relaunched the galleries in 2016. We are sorry to say it means our first visitors back […]

51 Voices: Digging Deeper

This January, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the Museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding year. In this […]

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 […]

The Hermitage

Black and white drawing of the interior of a hut called 'The Hermitage' by Thomas Hennell.

Thomas Hennell, Drawing of the Hermitage, 1939 This drawing shows the interior of a hut that the interwar writer H. J. Massingham had built in the orchard of his home ‘Reddings’, in Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire. The object collection seen stored in this hut was donated by him to The MERL in 1951. The hut was […]

Splint Basket

Splint basket (MERL 91/38)

These splint baskets were highly popular in North Devon before World War 2. They were used for a wide variety of purposes, such as feeding cattle, and carrying apples and potatoes. This specific basket would not have used in the field. Instead, it was made and sold by Jack Rowsell, who made around 25 – […]

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