Museum of English Rural Life
Founded by the University of Reading, England in 1951, the Museum of English Rural Life houses thousands of records about how farming and agriculture in the countryside have evolved over the years. Labeled collections include equipment, photographs, books, document archives and films. The museum was recently moved to what was formerly known as the St. Andrews Hall, part of the campus grounds in Reading, but it also retains part of the museum at East Thorpe, its previous location.
The most prominent collections at the Museum of English Rural Life include tractors, farm carts, hand tools, mowers, a threshing machine and a portable engine. Visitors to the museum are admitted free and allowed to browse the museum throughout the week, but the library and archives are only open Tuesday through Friday. Portraying English rural life from its very beginning to the modern days, the Museum of English Rural Life is a must-visit attraction in Reading, England.
Collection highlights at the museum include the giant teapot, portable steam engine, the John Tarlton collection, Herefordshire Pomona and the CPRE archive. The giant teapot is able to hold six gallons and was largely used in community gathering venues. Created in 1936 by the celebrated 20th century potter Michael Cardew, this giant teapot was first displayed at the British Council as part of a worldwide tour exhibition on English rural life. The entire collection from this previous exhibition (over 400 items) are now housed at the Museum of English Rural Life. The portable steam engine on display was among the first items to be collected for the museum and dates back to 1877. It's believed the steam engine was used to operate the threshing machine.
The John Tarlton (1914-1980) collection is all about rural life through photography. Pictures of hunting and shooting events, the countryside, fishing and the landscape are some of the intriguing photographs available. Most of John Tarlton's work was published in rural magazines, such as The Field, Shooting Times and Country Life. His photography is mostly from between the late 1940s and the early 1960s.
Another collection item to check out at the Museum of English Rural Life is the British Farmer's Cyclopedia, an agricultural encyclopedia created in 1806 and updated regularly to include farming knowledge of all types.
Interesting and educational, the museum should be visited and explored at leisure. Stay at a Reading hotel nearby, perhaps the Millennium Madejski Hotel Reading , which offers excellent accommodations, services and amenities.
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My Dad's Threshing machine!
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