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Museum of English Rural Life, Reading
(4.4/5 based on 70+ reviews on the web)
The Museum of English Rural Life is a museum 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.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 near to the centre of Reading in southern England. The location was formerly known as East Thorpe House and then St. Andrews Hall.History of the museum and its siteThe museum's site was originally occupied by a house known as East Thorpe, designed in 1880 by 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.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.St Andrews Hall closed as a hall of residence in 2001, despite some opposition from current and former members. 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 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.
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7 days in Reading BY A USER FROM UNITED ARAB EMIRATES February, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: February, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 12 days in United Kingdom BY A USER FROM HONG KONG December, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, shopping, slow & easy, popular PREFERENCES: December, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Slow & easy 3 days in Reading BY A USER FROM SOUTH AFRICA January, kids, historic sites, museums, popular PREFERENCES: January, kids, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Reading BY A USER FROM HONG KONG November, fast-paced, popular PREFERENCES: November ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Fast-paced 3 days in Reading BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 8 days in Andover, Reading & London BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM October, teens, kids, fast-paced, hidden gems PREFERENCES: October, teens, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Fast-paced 3 days in Reading BY A USER FROM CYPRUS November, teens, popular PREFERENCES: November, teens ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 14 days in United Kingdom BY A USER FROM UNITED ARAB EMIRATES December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 21 days in United Kingdom BY A USER FROM UNITED ARAB EMIRATES November, popular PREFERENCES: November ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 21 days in United Kingdom & London BY A USER FROM UNITED ARAB EMIRATES November, popular PREFERENCES: November ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 29 days in Europe BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM March, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites, museums, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: March, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 4 days in England & Cardiff BY A USER FROM UNITED ARAB EMIRATES December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Went for an evening visit, to experience the rural lifestyle and the technology prevailing in those times (mainly 17 century-early 20th century). The place is recently renovated/restored and reopened ...  more »
  • The newly refurbished MERL is now open but NOT on Mondays, we went last Monday and did a treasure hunt in the garden which was fine actually. A brand new shepherds in the garden which is fab and a new...  more »
  • Visited for the first time since the recent refurbishment. The new galleries are amazing. Interactive displays were wonderful and allowed us to try our hands at creating seasonal recipes or clay pigeo...  more »
Google
  • It was a nice museum pre-October 2014 and it remains a nice museum today. It is slightly bigger and stuff has been re-jigged around a bit and I understand the full collection is now on display. As someone who was very familiar with the old layout and displays, it isn't that different. As a family we have massively missed being able to use MERL and its garden over the past two years, its closure has been a big loss to local residents. Personally, I wish they had just left it alone and open! Blooming lottery funding!
  • A great museum and community archive/meeting place/resource, focusing on rural life across the UK and more locally in Berkshire. The fantastic facelift and re-organisation in October 2016 has definitely changed the MERL for the better.
  • Lovely new spacious building full of many rural tools and wagons.
  • We went here for a day out as a family. Very welcoming and I loved the atmosphere they had created! All of the family enjoyed - they are very accommodating.
  • A good family day out