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Timed entry to The Museum of English Rural Life

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Book your visit to The MERL!

About this event

We are delighted to welcome back visitors to The Museum of English Rural Life.

The galleries, shop, café and garden will be open from Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 5pm pm, and 10am-5pm on weekends.

Please note: we would like to draw your attention to the fact that surge testing is taking place for COVID-19 in various Reading and Wokingham postcodes, which includes parts of the University of Reading and The Museum of English Rural Life. For further details and advice, please visit the Reading Borough Council website.

So that The MERL is a safe and welcoming environment for all, we have reviewed and updated our health and safety measures in line with the latest Government advice. These ensure that your visit will be as memorable and enjoyable as always, with added safety and social distancing.

To visit The MERL, please book a free thirty-minute timed entry slot. These are available every half an hour from 9.30am to 3.30pm. Please arrive within your thirty-minute timed entry slot. After this, you are welcome to stay at the Museum for as long as you like (until we close!).

Please note:

  • Book one ticket per visiting adult and child, up to a maximum of six tickets per timed entry slot.
  • Please provide contact details for all members of your group over the age of 16.
  • If you are visiting as 2 households at the same time you may make 2 separate bookings as capacity allows.
  • While indoors, you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 people or 2 households.
  • If you can, you must wear a face covering while inside the museum.
  • Throughout the museum, please follow the health and safety guidance provided by our friendly team and our new signage.
  • When you arrive, please give the name under which your tickets were booked to the staff at reception.
  • Please arrive within your thirty-minute timed entry slot (or as close as you possibly can!)
  • You do not need a permit to park in the car park directly in front of the main building.


Although there is no charge to visit the museum, we do encourage all visitors to leave a £5 donation if possible. Your donations are an incredibly important source of income for us, and help to fund our public programmes and other activities.

You can donate online now, or in cash or by card at the Museum shop.

Learn more about what’s new at The MERL and the changes we have introduced on our Visit Us page.

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Organiser The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL)

Organiser of Timed entry to The Museum of English Rural Life

The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL)

The MERL was established in Reading in 1951 to capture and record the rapidly changing countryside following World War II. In 2005, it moved to its current premises in St Andrew’s Hall, a building designed by Sir Alfred Waterhouse in 1880 for local businessman Alfred Palmer of the Huntley & Palmer biscuit company.

Today the Museum uses its diverse and surprising collection to explore how the skills and experiences of farmers and craftspeople, past and present, can help shape our lives now and into the future. The Museum has worked alongside rural people, local communities and specialist researchers to create displays and activities that engage with important debates about the future of food and the ongoing relevance of the countryside to all our lives.

The MERL belongs to the University of Reading Museums and Special Collections Service (UMASCS)

Special Collections
Our collections, which include rare books, archives and manuscripts, are substantial and varied, particularly for a University of this age and size. The University's collections also include artwork.

Museums Partnership Reading

Reading Museum and The Museum of English Rural Life work together as Museums Partnership Reading (MPR). MPR is funded by Arts Council England’s (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation scheme, to improve opportunities for diverse local communities to engage in cultural experiences and heritage through public programmes, including exhibitions, high quality learning services for young people, new online experiences and investment in volunteering.


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