Trip Planner:   Europe  /  UK  /  England  /  Berkshire  /  Reading  /  Museums  /  Museum of English Rural Life

Museum of English Rural Life, Reading

(4.4/5 based on 80+ 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.
To visit Museum of English Rural Life and other attractions in Reading, use our Reading trip generator.
Source
Create a full Reading itinerary
map

Plan your trip to Reading

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Plans in Reading by other users

56 days in United Kingdom & Limerick BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM March, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: March, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 3 days in Reading BY A USER FROM ICELAND February, popular PREFERENCES: February ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 11 days in Oxford, Reading & London BY A USER FROM CANADA October, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, fast-paced, hidden gems PREFERENCES: October, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Fast-paced 19 days in Southern England BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Reading BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES March, popular PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Reading BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM March, kids, popular PREFERENCES: March, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 45 days in Western Europe BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA July, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums, popular PREFERENCES: July, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 12 days in Europe BY A USER FROM INDIA March, romantic, popular PREFERENCES: March, romantic ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 11 days in London, Paris & Reading BY A USER FROM SINGAPORE October, popular PREFERENCES: October ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 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
View more plans
Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • MERL is open again after apparently £3m refurbishment, amazing how little you actually get for £3m these days. It's still the same collection of stuff (baskets, barrows, carts and whittled spoons) jus...  more »
  • We visited for the first time this Sunday morning (dad mid 60s and daughter mid 30s), despite having lived locally for a number of years. What a mistake! The museum is housed in a beautiful Reading re...  more »
  • I have family who work near here so I've popped in here to kill time before only to end up having them meet me there and the pair of us spend time walking around the place! It's really in depth in asp...  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