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The Museum of English Rural Life
Museum of English Rural Life
also known as the MERL, is a museum, library and archive dedicated to recording the changing face of farming and the countryside in England. It houses designated collections of national importance that span the full range of objects, archives, photographs, film and books.[1][2][3] The museum is run by the University of Reading, and is situated in Redlands Road to the rear of the institution's London Road Campus
London Road Campus
near to the centre of Reading in southern England. The location was formerly known as East Thorpe House and then St. Andrews Hall.[3][4] It is an accredited museum and accredited archive as recognised by Arts Council England
Arts Council England
and the National Archives.[5][6]

Contents

1 History 2 Collections 3 References 4 External links

History[edit] The museum's site was originally occupied by a house known as East Thorpe, designed in 1880 by Alfred Waterhouse
Alfred Waterhouse
for Alfred Palmer (of the Reading biscuit manufacturers Huntley & Palmers). Palmer was an important early benefactor of Reading University and in 1911 East Thorpe was extended to become St Andrews Hall, a hall of residence for women attending the university.[7] The museum itself was founded in 1951, growing out of the university's long academic connections with agriculture. It originally occupied premises on the University of Reading's main Whiteknights Campus.[4] St Andrews Hall closed as a hall of residence in 2001. The site was then redeveloped for the use of the museum, with the cost of £11m being shared by the university, the Heritage Lottery Fund
Heritage Lottery Fund
and public donations. The redeveloped museum opened in 2005 and retains the original East Thorpe building, with the addition of an adjoining new building. The two contrasting buildings overlook restored gardens, providing a setting for a rural collection in an urban environment.[2][4][7] The Museum underwent a period of further redevelopment from 2013–2016, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Wellcome Trust, and the University of Reading.[8] The Museum officially reopened on 22 October 2016 with ten new galleries, including a gallery dedicated to Ladybird Books artwork held by the University of Reading
University of Reading
Special Collections.[9] Collections[edit] The Museum holds over 25,000 objects, almost all of which are on display, and which provide a material record of rural England
England
covering 1750 to the present day.[10] It cares for a collection of livestock portraiture,[11] representations of rural life, agricultural hand tools, ploughs,[12] farm machinery and other equipments.[13][14] The museum has a specialist library and houses other collections including the library of the Tools & Trades History Society.[15]

Entrance to the Museum

The Welcome Case

Detail of the Making Rural England
England
Gallery

A Year on the Farm Gallery

The rear garden of the Museum, with the original East Thorpe House in the centre

References[edit]

^ "University of Reading, Museum of English Rural Life". MICHAEL – The Multilingual Inventory of Cultural Heritage in Europe. Retrieved 2009-04-24.  ^ a b "Doors set to open on rural museum". BBC. 2005-06-30. Retrieved 2009-04-25.  ^ a b "About the Museum of English Rural Life". University of Reading. Retrieved 2009-04-24.  ^ a b c "Our History – Museum of English Rural Life". University of Reading. Retrieved 2009-04-24.  ^ "List of Accredited museums in the UK, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man". Arts Council England. Retrieved 12 February 2018.  ^ "Accredited archive services, statistics and outcomes". The National Archives. Retrieved 12 February 2018.  ^ a b "The History of St. Andrew's Hall – a scrapbook" (PDF). University of Reading. Retrieved 2009-04-24.  ^ " Museum of English Rural Life
Museum of English Rural Life
opens after multi-million pound redevelopment". Heritage Lottery Fund. Retrieved 12 February 2018.  ^ "Entire art gallery of Ladybird book covers is world first". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2018.  ^ "Collection Overview". The Museum of English Rural Life. Retrieved 12 February 2018.  ^ "Art UK". Art UK. Retrieved 12 February 2018.  ^ Wilson, Catherine (2011). Digging deep : report on the results of the Plough Survey. Rural Museums Network. p. 22.  ^ "Museums with basketry collections". The Basketmakers' Association. Retrieved 12 February 2018.  ^ "Michael O'Connell Wall Hanging object record". The Museum of English Rural Life online catalogue. Retrieved 12 February 2018.  ^ Tools & Trades History Society

External links[edit]

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