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 […]

Biscuit Tin

Biscuit tin, Huntley & Palmers, 1951–1952 (REDMG 1992.2.384)

Biscuit tin, Huntley and Palmers, 1951–1952 This biscuit tin is part of the Huntley & Palmer Collection at Reading Museum. It features a watercolour of the historic Yarn Market at Dunster, Somerset. This slice of ‘olde England’ was much visited by holiday makers to the nearby seaside resort of Minehead prior to the Second World […]

‘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 […]

Ration Book

1950-1951 ration book and coupons belonging to Barbara Wood (MERL 2019/55)

Ministry of Food, Ration book and coupons, 1950–1951 The early-1950s date of this ration book helps show the longevity of rationing during and after the Second World War. This policy began in 1940 and continued in some form for 14 years. Inside the book can be found coupons and further papers linked to food, clothes, tea, soap, […]

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 […]

Cider jar

Before mechanisation, harvesting was hard manual work and often farms provided food and drink for all the workers who worked long hours in the fields. Typically, labourers worked from 5am till dusk, but were compensated by extra pay at harvest. They could double their wages at harvest time, and there was the possibility of a […]

Milk Counter Pan

Milk counter pan

Before refrigeration was widespread, this pan would have been used to hold milk which prospective customers could taste and buy. Counter pans were part of a reformation in the milk trade, as purchasing milk previously carried an element of risk (it was often contaminated or watered down). New milk shops had cows out the back to show […]

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 […]

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 […]

Salmon Trap

The best way to trap salmon is to make them trap themselves. So effective is the design of the ‘putcher’ that it has barely changed in 1000 years. Fishermen on the River Severn would arrange dozens of these traps between sticks buried in the mud of the river and forming a wall. The salmon would […]

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    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


    RG1 5EX

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