Museum of English Rural Life, Reading

4.5
#4 of 15 in Museums in Berkshire
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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Museum of English Rural Life Reviews
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4.6
TripAdvisor
  • August 18, 2017
    We took our French friends to the museum last weekend and they were very impressed. It reminded them as well as me of the old days on the farm. The shear volume of hand tools and implements was stagge...  more »
  • August 8, 2017
    Went on a drab rainy summer's day. Very impressed! Free parking, free entry. It has kiddy trail where you hunt rats and learn about country life. Lots of interactive games along the way - shepherding ...  more »
  • August 8, 2017
    We recently visited this museum for the first time and were impressed with just how many interesting exhibits they have, though I must say the supporting information is often sparse in terms of how an...  more »
Google
  • Recently refurbished & updated museum focusing on all aspects of rural life. Interesting exhibits highlighting different facets of agriculture through the seasons & at different time periods.
  • It gives a fascinating insight into rural life, plenty to see and you can also look at records salvaged from various places
  • 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!
  • Interesting place if you like museums and history. Free.
  • Lots to learn about times past. Very well set out. Plenty to read and see. Good experience for the whole family.

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