Black Eyes and Lemonade

Cover of exhibition catalogue for Black Eyes and Lemonade (GREAT EXHIBITION--12/06)

Exhibition catalogue, Black Eyes and Lemonade, 1951 This catalogue listed the contents of a quietly influential exhibition held as part of the Festival of Britain. An eclectic range of items were assembled by artist and author Barbara Jones, the creative force behind the show. The displays made a powerful statement about the importance and vitality […]

Cotswold Tradition

Exhibition catalogue, The Cotswold Tradition, 1951 This catalogue reveals that some of the many objects given to The MERL by writer H. J. Massingham in early 1951 were almost immediately sent on loan to an exhibition at Cirencester Park. This display was part of a significant regional strand of the Festival of Britain and was […]

Sutton’s Seeds Sign

Sutton & Sons Ltd plaque showing the location of the company’s office in Calcutta (Kolkata), India (MERL 2019/50).

Sutton & Sons Ltd, Indian branch office sign, circa 1950s In the nineteenth century, Reading was home to several major industries. Sutton & Sons Ltd grew from a local shop into a global firm. In 1912 they established an India branch in Russell Street, Calcutta, from which they developed and grew seeds for both the […]

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 […]

‘Why Travelling Matters?’ Engaging schools with our migration stories

Written by Phillippa Heath, Learning and Engagement Manager at The MERL. As part of Traveller’s History Month, we have been sharing MERL collections which connect with the histories of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. These fascinating collections, spanning objects, archives, photography, art and library collections, tell us so much about the importance of GRT heritage […]

People and Places: why The MERL is taking part in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month

Throughout June, The MERL is celebrating Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month. Running since 2008, this month celebrates ‘the remarkable and immense contributions Gypsy, Roma and Traveller individuals and communities bring to wider society’. Its aim is to help tackle prejudice, challenge myths and amplify the voices of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. To some readers, it […]

51 Voices: Be Nice, Say Hello, Share the Space

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 […]

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 […]

Sister Lavinia

Photograph showing interior of Lavinia Smith's Downside House taken by Henry Owen Vaughan (MERL P DX2049 PH5_43)

Henry Owen Vaughan, Photographs of Miss Smith’s Museum, 1937–1943 These photographs were taken in the village of East Hendred during the late-1930s and early-1940s by the Reading-based amateur photographer Henry Owen Vaughan. They show a private home and museum at Downside House, which belonged to Lavinia Smith, sometimes referred to as ‘Miss Lavinia’ or ‘Sister […]

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    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

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

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