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Museum of English Rural Life

University of Reading, Redlands Road, Reading, BERKSHIRE, RG1 5EX
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Tel+44 0118 378 8660

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About

The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) is England’s most extensive museum dedicated to farming, food, craft, rural life and countryside issues. 

The MERL contains an astonishing array of items which tell an important part of the history of England. The museum brings this extraordinary collection of objects*, archives, photographs and books to life in nine new, innovative and intriguing galleries.  Each gallery explores a different theme such as A Year on the FarmTown and Country, and Forces for Change. The interactive, immersive displays explore questions of identity, environment, technology, culture and health. Whatever your relationship with the countryside and rural life, you’ll find objects that fascinate and inspire you. You’ll discover stories that surprise and move you, and challenge you to think about rural England, past and present, in different ways.  

A short walk from the centre of Reading, and easily accessible by the bus, rail or road, The MERL is an unexpected treasure waiting to be explored. Whether you visit on your own, on a group visit, or with friends and family, you’re sure of a warm welcome and a high quality, interesting and enjoyable experience. There’s a bright and modern Welcome Space with refreshment area and thoughtfully stocked shop, as well as a beautiful, sheltered garden with picnic space, games, growing beds and a Shepherds Hut.  

The MERL welcomes families and offers a variety of opportunities to explore through hands-on activities, digital interactives, games and trails – indoors and in the garden.  

Groups are also welcome to book in advance. You will be looked after by a volunteer Welcome Host will introduce the museum, its history and collections and accompany your group throughout the visit to provide extra insights and share more of the stories behind the objects on display. 

Admission to The MERL is free. The Museum is open Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and at weekends from 10am to 5pm. 

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Guide Prices

Ticket TypeTicket Tariff
Adult - Adult ticketFree
Child - Child ticketFree

Note: Prices are a guide only and may change on a daily basis.

Map & Directions

Road Directions

We encourage visitors to use alternative methods of transport to get to the MERL, but if you need to come by car, the postcode for Sat Navs is RG1 5EX (6 Redlands Road) Some parking is available. There is a small car park for Museum visitors at the front of our building. Spaces are limited. Visitors are also welcome to use the University Acacia Road car park adjacent to the Museum. Please collect a permit from the Museum reception, to be displayed in your car. During University term time and on Friday mornings this car park can be very busy. Some paid street parking is available on Redlands Road. There is a maximum stay of 2 hours. Due to the proximity of the Hospital, this parking is in high demand. The closest public car park is the Queens Road car park a 10 minute walk away. ​​​​

Public Transport Directions

The nearest rail station to the MERL is Reading, which is easily accessible by regular, fast trains from London Paddington, as well as via London Waterloo, as well as by coach from Heathrow. It is well connected by rail routes from the North, South and West via Bournemouth, Bristol, Oxford, Guildford and Basingstoke. The MERL is a 20 minute walk from the station. From stop SA at the station Leopard 3, Leopard 10, Silver 9 or Claret 22 connect to stops at the Royal Berkshire Hospital (Craven Road or Addington Road stops), or Claret 21 or 21A stop on Kendrick Road (Crown Place) which are within easy walking distance of the Museum. We have a secure bike rack in the car park by the main entrance to the Museum. The ‘UoR London Road’ Readybike station is at the end of Acacia Road, right outside the entrance to our car park, so you can pick up a bike at any station across Reading and leave it right here!

Facilities

Accessibility

  • All Areas Accessible to Disabled Visitors - Yes.
  • Facilities for Hearing Impaired Visitors
  • Guide Dogs Permitted
  • Parking Areas for Disabled Visitors
  • Ramp / Level Access

Catering

  • On-Site cafe/restaurant/catering - We have a small café with hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and snacks
  • Picnic area

Establishment Features

  • Conference facilities
  • Toilets

Key Features

  • In town/city centre - The MERL is a 10-15 minute walk from Reading town centre, near the Royal Berkshire Hospital The MERL is a 10-15 minute walk from Reading town centre, near the Royal Berkshire Hospital
  • Indoor Attraction
  • No Smoking Attraction
  • Outdoor Attraction - We have a beautiful enclosed garden with picnic area.

Parking & Transport

  • On site parking - We have a small car park at the front of the Museum and some parking We have a small car park at the front of the Museum and some parking
  • Parking (free)

Payment Methods

  • Approx length of visit - 02:00
  • Groups Accepted - Admission is free. We ask for a suggested donation of £5 per person
  • MasterCard accepted
  • Max group size - 50
  • Min group size - 10
  • Prior Booking Recommended - Booking is essential for groups of 10 or more
  • Special group rates - Yes (refreshments can be arranged for a small charge for groups by arrangement only).
  • Visa accepted

Target Markets

  • Marketed Towards Children - Families with children of all ages are welcome
  • Marketed Towards Families
  • Marketed Towards Senior Citizens

Tours and Demonstrations

  • Educational Visits Accepted

Opening Times

2019 (1 Jan 2019 - 31 Dec 2019)
DayTimes
MondayClosed*
Tuesday - Friday09:00 - 17:00*
Saturday - Sunday10:00 - 17:00*

* The Museum galleries are closed on Mondays, but the shop and café (and reading room) are open. The reading room is closed at weekends.
Closed Bank Holidays
Closed 24-26 Dec 2018
Closed 31 Dec 2018 and January 1st 2019
Last Thursday of the month: 9am - 9pm to allow for evening visits.

Dates and times marked with a '*' are provisional and may be subject to change

TripAdvisor

Awards

  • Other Awards Self-assessed Accessibility Information 2019

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