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 […]

Picnic Basket

This is an ‘En Route’ tea-making basket produced by Drew & Co of London probably around 1905. Originally, a basket like this was associated with railway travel, and even the horse drawn carriage. But by the Edwardian era, it was increasingly about the relationship between the motor car and the countryside – going for an […]

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 […]

Miller’s Wagon

Meadcroft of Welwyn et. al., Miller’s wagon, circa 1880 This wagon was acquired by the Museum in 1951. Its survival is testament to the mid-century drive of collectors who sought to rescue rural heritage. Vehicles like these came under threat during the interwar period when other modes of transport came to the fore. This was […]

  • 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