Start your journey of discovery through the English countryside here. Uncover a world of amazing facts, surprising stories, mystery objects and powerful images. Whatever your interest in the countryside, there is something for you in our museum and you can explore more and more online.
So whether you can't visit us, or you just want to dig a bit deeper, this is the place to start. Dive right in and take a look now! The Discover pages are the place to find carefully selected items from our collection, organised by themes. You can also explore our rich image collections and surprise yourself in the 'Did You know?' section.
...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.
...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.
...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
...villages often used to run their own fire services?
The National Fire Service was only created in 1941.
...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.
...Suttons Seeds invented the seed packet?
The local Reading firm, founded in 1806, popularised paper packets of seeds for gardeners.