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The Museum is now fully open, following a major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Free Admission

The Museum of English Rural Life

University of Reading

Redlands Road

Reading

RG1 5EX

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The Museum of English Rural Life is now open!

The MERL is now open after a £3million redevelopment project, which has radically transformed our public displays.

The new museum aims to challenge perceptions about rural England by revealing the historical and contemporary relevance of country life. Come and discover our new interactive, immersive galleries which explore questions of identity, environment, technology, culture and health.

  • The Museum is now fully open, following a major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
  • Free Admission
  • Redlands Road, Reading
    Get Directions

What's on

Medieval Caxton Leaf display

  • From May 10th 2017 To May 31st 2017
  • Usual Museum opening times, plus Mondays.
  • Free

Extended Hours Night

  • May 25th 2017
  • 5-9pm
  • Free

Friday Fledglings

  • May 26th 2017
  • 10 to 11.30am
  • £3 per child (includes drink and snack)

No need to book

Did you know

...Lady Eve Balfour (1898-1990) was one of the earliest organic farmers and co-founded the Soil Association?

Women continue to play a key role in this movement, with organic farms employing significantly more women than chemical farming.

Did you know

...farmers used to sow seeds by fiddle?

Sowing by hand can be slow and inaccurate. Seed drills were developed in the 1800s to sow seeds quickly in a straight line at regular intervals.

Did you know

...Elizabethan mattresses were used for both childbirth and corpses?

Mattresses, plaited from sedges, were made to support a mother during childbirth or a corpse after death. After use it would have been burned.

Learn More

Did you know

...villages often used to run their own fire services?

The National Fire Service was only created in 1941.

Did you know

...city families used to pick hops on holiday?

Hop picking holidays allowed city families to earn money. Pickers were paid with tokens, which were used in local shops or exchanged for wages.

Did you know

...Suttons Seeds invented the seed packet?

The local Reading firm, founded in 1806, popularised paper packets of seeds for gardeners.

Our Country Lives - Latest Blog Posts

Sharing insights into the activities of The MERL staff, volunteers and visitors during a period of change and transformation...

Medieval Caxton leaf: on display from 10 May

9 May 2017 Collections

Our discovery of a unique example of 15th century printed text by English printer William Caxton has led to considerable...

Access to the MERL and Special Collections Library: May 2017

28 April 2017 Collections

Due to essential maintenance work, we regret to inform you that access to the MERL and Special Collections open access l...

Landscape Education in the UK: past present and future

20 April 2017 Discovering the landscape

On Saturday 1 April 2017 MERL hosted a FOLAR (Friends of the Landscape Library and Archive at Reading) study day on the ...

Is this a garden or a teeny tiny farm?

11 April 2017 Garden

Science engagement officer, Robyn Hopcroft, provides an update on our sugar beet growing project. It’s National Gardenin...

The Museum of English Rural Life

University of Reading

Redlands Road

Reading

RG1 5EX

Need directions?