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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

The Hogarth Press at 100

  • From June 12th 2017 To August 31st 2017
  • Usual museum opening times
  • Free

Friday Fledglings

  • June 30th 2017
  • 10 to 11.30am
  • ¬£3 per child (includes drink and snack)

No need to book

Community Treasures Celebration

  • July 8th 2017
  • 10am to 3pm
  • Free (book in advance to avoid the queue or just turn up!)

Book in advance via Eventbrite or just turn up!

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...

Improved Open Access Library fully accessible again

2 June 2017 Collections

The MERL and Special Collections Open Access Library is now fully accessible again! In this library, which can be access...

Discovering the landscape: lost landscapes of Michael Brown

1 June 2017 Collections

In this post Amber Roberts, recipient of MERL’s landscape academic engagement bursary talks about her work on our ...

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...

The Museum of English Rural Life

University of Reading

Redlands Road

Reading

RG1 5EX

Need directions?