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Rural crafts and the Museum

Rural crafts are strongly represented throughout the MERL collections. With their combination of skills, natural materials and traditions, they are a central focus of the Museum. Over the last century, the demise of rural crafts has been frequently forecast. And yet they remain, some in better shape than others, to provide a counterpoint to the conventions of modern living.

The key factor is always the craftspeople themselves. The Museum has an extensive historical record of them which this project has been bringing up to date.

Rake making
rake makingrake making

Top: Ernie Sims, rake maker of Pamber End in Hampshire, recorded in 1957 as part of an earlier crafts project at the Museum
Left: Oak basket maker in Worcestershire, 1935. Photographed by Marjorie Wight (1889-1973)
Right: H.J. Pearce, a Berkshire saddler, photographed in the 1940s by C.F.F.Snow (1903-84) for the Rural Industries Bureau
Bottom right: Craft objects from the MERL collections