Museum Of English Rural Life

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The Museum of English Rural Life is a national research and information centre for the history of farming, food and the countryside.The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) was founded by the University of Reading, England in 1951 to record the changing face of farming and the countryside. It houses designated collections of national importance that span the full range of objects, archives, photographs, film and books. The 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.St Andrews Hall closed in 2001, despite some opposition from current and former members, and the site has now been redeveloped for the use of the museum. The original East Thorpe building has been retained and now forms part of the museum.

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