Model pub

Aerial view of small ceramic model of mock Tudor public house

Danbury Mint, Model pub from The Archers radio serial The long-running BBC radio serial The Archers was first broadcast nationally on 1 January 1951, the same day that very first objects were accessioned into The MERL collection. Designed as a way to communicate the latest farming techniques to the agricultural community, it told the story […]

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 […]

Model thresher

Detail of a small dark wooden threshing machine mechanism with cogs and workings visible.

Barrett, Exall & Andrewes, Model threshing machine, 1847 This is a scale demonstration model of a type of four-horse-powered threshing machine, used after harvest to separate the grains from the stalks of cereal crops. This object was the second item to be listed as part of The MERL collection. It was given by Reading Museum […]

A Land Down Under

Anthropologist and Collections Volunteer Paul Trawick continues his journey of subsoil discovery, exploring the role of land drainage on English farms. In his first post – What Lies Beneath? – he introduced us to these little-known systems. In this installment he elaborates further on their history and how they work… We have already seen how […]

Machinery 100 Years Ago

People at the Museum tented display (D MERL/D1/61)

At the Royal Agricultural Show in Cambridge in 1951 people flocked to see the Museum’s display of Machinery 100 Years Ago. This old equipment sat only metres away from the very machines that threatened its existence. The countryside was steeped in history yet desperately in need of modernisation.

Giant Teapot

Michael Cardew, Large teapot on iron stand, 1940s This enormous teapot was designed and made by Michael Cardew at Winchcombe Pottery, Gloucestershire. It was part of the British Council’s craft collection and is probably the same iconic teapot that featured in the exhibition of Modern British Crafts held at the Museum of Modern Art, New […]


Turnwrest plough (MERL 55/786)

In its early years the Museum of English Rural Life toured the nation’s many country shows, picking up objects from farmers and the public. This type of plough is called a turn wrest and is commonly found in Kent, where we collected it in 1955. We put it on display at the Shillingford country fair […]

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