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Museum of Rural Life Reading

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Image of a man in a wagon pulled by horses working in the fields

Falling in love with farm life

Wondering about cool things to do in Reading? A trip to a farm is always good for the soul.


The unique Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) is a place where visitors will find an  extensive collection dedicated to farming, food, craft, rural life, and other countryside matters. The museum is managed by the local university and is one of the best attractions in Reading.


With an archive that takes visitors on a journey through time, different themes can be found in each gallery within MERL. Immersive displays about identity, environment, technology, culture, and health provide an opportunity to inspire and make visitors question the relationship society has with the rural lifestyle. 


Over 25’000 objects are part of the material record from 1750 to the present, coming from prolific collectors H. J. Massingham and Lavinia Smith. The photographs feature images of country people, rural crafts, working horses and all aspects of farming.


Entrance at MERL is free, and groups can book in advance. They will be welcomed by a  volunteer that provides extra insights and stories behind everything that can be found on display. Take your family and enjoy the variety of kids’ activities available such as the interactive digitals, games and trails, outdoor and indoor fun while learning more about farming and life in the countryside from the past until the 21st century. 


The museum is open from Tuesday to Friday. It’s just a short walk from our Pentahotel Reading and close to the city centre.

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