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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

Half term at The MERL

  • From February 11th 2017 To February 26th 2017
  • Usual museum opening times (Galleries closed Mondays)
  • Free admission

William Wordsworth and the sounds of the land

  • February 28th 2017
  • 12-1pm
  • Free

No need to book

Friday Fledglings

  • March 3rd 2017
  • 10-11.30am
  • £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...

Discovering the Landscape: Book now for a place on FOLAR’s Landscape Education study day

17 February 2017 Discovering the landscape

Landscape Architecture and Management Education in the UK: past present and future What? This year’s FOLAR (Friends of t...

Access to The MERL periodicals

8 February 2017 Collections

Due to essential maintenance work, we regret to inform you that The MERL periodicals will be unavailable from Monday 13t...

Beekeeping, not just a hobby

27 January 2017 Science Spot

Science engagement volunteer, Eilish Menzies, considers beekeeping and the role that it plays in food production. Walkin...

Melissa Harrison: At Hawthorn Time

25 January 2017 Events

Written by Dr Paddy Bullard, Associate Professor in Literature and Book History at the University of Reading. @MatWitnes...

The Museum of English Rural Life

University of Reading

Redlands Road

Reading

RG1 5EX

Need directions?