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 […]

What would you put in a Museum of Contemporary Farming?

By Georgina Barney, artist, and curator of the Museum of Contemporary Farming The Museum of Contemporary Farming is an impossible project. Commissioned by the MERL as part of the project Making, Using and Enjoying: The Museum of the Intangible, it is manifested by me, its curator, with invited guests and the public. I’ve been using […]

Steam Ploughing

Born in Wiltshire into a Quaker family, John Fowler (1826-1864) became one of Britain’s most successful agricultural engineers and invented steam ploughing. Fowler was concerned with the cost of manual labour needed when cultivating land. In the 1850s he came up with the idea of using steam power instead. His method was to set a […]

Harvest Jug

This jug was made for the boozy celebration which comes after a successful harvest. The baking sun sits smiling at the centre of a mariner’s compass on one side, a fitting design for a jug made in the seafaring county of Devon. The varying hues of orange and yellow are rooted in the spent soil […]

TURNWREST PLOUGH

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 […]

Ferguson Tractor

A black and white photograph of a Ferguson tractor sitting in the old museum galleries on Whiteknights campus, University of Reading.

This Ferguson Tractor was found a mess on a scrapheap by a retired teacher at RycoteWood College. He enlisted the help of students at the college to lovingly repair and restore the tractor to working condition and was afterwards bought by the Museum with the help of the Science Museum. The tractor was probably manufactured […]

Flail

When you look at a flail, you are looking at the sweat, pain and labour farmworkers endured for hundreds of years. Flails are just two sticks, tied together at one end with leather. One stick would be grasped, and the other swung at corn on a barn floor to separate the grain from the husk […]

Suttons Seeds Display Cabinet

The soft wooden hues, globes of glass and intricate carving of this display case would not be out of place in a Victorian apothecary. This case, however, is for seeds. The bottom of the case proudly proclaims ‘Queen’s Seedsmen Reading’ – the Queen in question being Victoria, and the Seedsmen being Suttons Seeds company. Famous […]

Wagoner's Belt

This belt was given to a wagoner on his retirement, in recognition of his great skill. There was once a strict hierarchy on farms. Horsemen were at the top and worked with wagons and ploughs. Everyone knew their rank, referring to each other with terms such as ‘first man’ or ‘fourth boy’.

  • Visit us

    Visit Us

    We are now fully open.

    Free admission.

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

    Plan your visit
  • Visit us

    Visit Us

    We are now fully open.

    Free admission.

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

    Plan your visit