51 Voices: Digging Deeper

This January, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the Museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding year. In this […]

Model thresher

Detail of a small dark wooden threshing machine mechanism with cogs and workings visible.

Barrett, Exall & Andrewes, Model threshing machine, 1847 This is a scale demonstration model of a type of four-horse-powered threshing machine, used after harvest to separate the grains from the stalks of cereal crops. This object was the second item to be listed as part of The MERL collection. It was given by Reading Museum […]

The Last Dipper by Pete Flood

Pete Flood and Jackie Oates have spent the last two years as folk musicians-in-residence at The MERL, supported by EFDSS, working on projects inspired by the museum’s themes and collections. Last year, Pete ran workshops with young percussionists focusing on ‘rough music‘, tackling issues of bullying and exclusion. Now, ahead of a final performance at South Street […]

King Alfred

The face of King Alfred, a staw sculpture, against a black background.

If you think this figure has a regal air about him, you would not be wrong. This is a straw ‘sculpture’ of the Anglo-Saxon King Alfred. Originally, the figure had a wooden sword in one hand and a straw scroll in the other, representing both the warrior and the scholar. It is actually one of […]


Mattress (MERL 61/242)

This mattress was found walled up in a house in Titchfield, Hampshire, and may date from the seventeenth century or earlier. It consists of thick plaits of three, sewn together and made of Carex, a type of sedge. The underneath is fluffy, like carpet pile, and is probably unfinished. Such mattresses were used either for […]

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