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The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL)

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.