The campaigns of the Women’s Institute

Work experience student, Amelie Roome, delves into the archives of the Women’s Institute to examine the Institute’s role in the historical and contemporary English countryside.

‘Tabloid’ First Aid Kit


This first aid kit was made by the pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome, which produced a wide range of specialised kits – for explorers, the army and civilians, of which this is one. The Burroughs Wellcome & Company was founded in 1880, in London, by the American pharmacists Henry Wellcome and Silas Burroughs. The company produced […]

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, […]

Obstetric Forceps

Stainless steel obstetric forceps (BMHC 2010.16.15). Image copyright Berkshire Medical History Centre.

Stainless steel obstetric forceps, 1950s These obstetric forceps are among a handful of artefacts on loan to The MERL from the Berkshire Medical History Centre, the wider collection of which is housed at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. The forceps are part of a set used by a General Practice doctor in the mid-twentieth century. Like […]

Milk Counter Pan

Milk counter pan (MERL 58/64)

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 […]

Tooth Extractor

Tooth extractor (MERL 51/190)

The tooth key, or extractor,  is a most primitive device, invented in the 17th century, for extracting teeth – the claw is placed on the inside of tooth and the device is then rotated, using the outside part of the gum (often badly traumatised in the process). Proper dentistry only started to become widely available […]

Salmon Trap

Basket salmon trap (MERL 64/23)

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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    The Museum of English Rural Life

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