Strawcraft Symbols

Fred Mizen, Strawcraft heart made for the Festival of Britain (MERL 52/73)

Fred Mizen, ‘Corn Dolly’ sculptures, 1951 Straw craftsman Fred Mizen made various sculptures for the Festival of Britain, including a large and much-celebrated Lion and Unicorn for the pavilion of the same name. As well as his sizeable designs, he also contributed a smaller series for the ‘Country’ pavilion. These were were displayed upstairs, tucked […]

Fertile Soils

Spine view of Frank Newman Turner, Fertility Farming (London: Faber and Faber, 1951)

Frank Newman Turner, Fertility Farming (London: Faber and Faber, 1951) This book is one of a range of mid-century texts that introduced a wider readership to the emerging ideas of organic farming. Its author, F. Newman Turner, was a farmer and journalist who would later go on to work in herbal medicine. Fertility Farming owes […]

Countryside Cartoons

Michael O'Connell, Cartoon design for Diversity of British Farming artwork, Yorkshire panel (MERL 2009/64/5)

Michael O’Connell, Diversity of British Farming designs, circa 1950 These seven cartoons by artist Michael O’Connell were scaled-up to create a stunning artwork for the Country pavilion at the Festival of Britain. The finished textile panels from this can be seen here. In order to develop his designs, O’Connell travelled around observing and sketching to […]

Time to take CARE

Learn about our focus for 2022: highlighting how we take care of rural heritage, the countryside’s future, and each other.

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, […]

Huge Wall-Hangings

Michael O'Connell, Diversity of British Farming Wall-Hangings, 1951 (MERL 63/18/9).

Michael O’Connell, Diversity of British Farming Wall-Hangings, 1951 This huge textile depicting Kent is one of nine sections—a key, an introductory panel, and seven landscapes—that formed a 46-metre long display in the Country Pavilion of the Festival of Britain. It was designed by artist Michael O’Connell and the panels made with the help of his […]

Tropical Teaching

Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture: Silver Jubilee 1951 (London: ICTA, 1951)

Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture: Silver Jubilee 1951 (London: ICTA, 1951) The Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (ICTA) was founded in St. Augustine, Trinidad, in 1921. This booklet was published in 1951 to celebrate twenty five years since its establishment. Trinidad remained part of the British West Indies for the entire first quarter century of […]

Thatching tools

Festival of Britain thatching objects (MERL 52/82-83, 85-91, & 79/64).

Festival of Britain, Thatching tools, 1951 This set of tools was exhibited at the Festival of Britain, where it helped to tell the story of straw in the Country Pavilion. The display also included straw sculptures produced by celebrated maker Fred Mizen. His techniques were derived in part from the art of thatch finials— decorative […]

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