Fertile Soils

Spine view of Frank Newman Turner, Fertility Farming (London: Faber and Faber, 1951)

Frank Newman Turner, Fertility Farming (London: Faber and Faber, 1951) This book is one of a range of mid-century texts that introduced a wider readership to the emerging ideas of organic farming. Its author, F. Newman Turner, was a farmer and journalist who would later go on to work in herbal medicine. Fertility Farming owes […]

Birds and Men

Detail of title page of Edward Max Nicholson, Birds and Men (London: Collins, 1951)

Edward Max Nicholson, Birds and Men (London: Collins, 1951) Published in 1951 and penned by conservationist Max Nicholson, Birds and Men was the seventeenth volume in the Collins New Naturalist series and the first of these influential texts to focus on birdlife. This iconic series is said to be the longest running of its kind, […]

51 Voices: A growing understanding

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. […]

Landscape Leader

Journal of the Institute of Landscape Architects, Presidential Announcement, November 1951, p3

Announcement, ‘The New President – Miss Brenda Colvin’, 1951 In 1951 Brenda Colvin became the first female president of the Institute of Landscape Architects. This extract from the Journal of the Institute of Landscape Architects dates to November of that year. It includes the announcement of her leadership and a summary of her contributions to […]

Death to Pests

Detail from Death to pests poster showing military figure (MERL 2010/149)

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Death to Pests poster, 1951 This poster was issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It was printed for H. M. Stationary Office by J. Howitt and Son Ltd, Nottingham, and released in 1951. It was intended to encourage British growers to combat common vegetable pests. This postwar period was still […]

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 […]

A Land Down Under

Anthropologist and Collections Volunteer Paul Trawick continues his journey of subsoil discovery, exploring the role of land drainage on English farms. In his first post – What Lies Beneath? – he introduced us to these little-known systems. In this installment he elaborates further on their history and how they work… We have already seen how […]

What lies beneath?

Anthropologist and Collections Volunteer Paul Trawick has been delving into the role of field drains on English farms. These hidden gems offer an ingenious and indigenous way to reclaim ground, improve topsoil, tame groundwater, and achieve sustainable crop yields. But few of us even know they are there. In this, the first of several posts, […]


Founder of Glastonbury Festival, Michael Eavis' green wellies

Wellies are an essential part of English outdoor clothing. Come rain, flood, hail or snow, wellies will keep your feet warm and dry. These ones were owned and used by Michael Eavis, dairy farmer and founder of Glastonbury Festival. Wellies were designed for people who worked in the countryside, but you’re now just as likely […]

Harvest Jug

Harvest festival jug with sunshine design (MERL 60/146)

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 […]

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