New book acquisition: Tusser’s ‘Five hundreth pointes of good husbandrie’ (1585)

Written by Fiona Melhuish (UMASCS Librarian) and Amy Thomas (UROP project student)

I am pleased to announce that we were able to acquire an early edition of Five hundreth pointes of good husbandrie by Thomas Tusser at the Rothamsted Collection/Lawes Agricultural Library auction at Forum Auctions in July this year. This 1585 edition, with its splendid frontispiece, bound in mottled calf with gilt turn-ins, will join other early editions of Tusser’s work in our collections, including editions printed in 1672 and 1812. The first edition of Tusser’s work was published in 1557.

We were particularly delighted that one of our students, Amy Thomas, was able to make immediate use of the new acquisition and our other editions of Tusser’s book in her research. Amy has been working on a Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) project entitled ‘How To Be Rural: Agricultural Instruction in the MERL collections’, examining forgotten agricultural manuals and countryside ‘how-to’ books from the MERL library collections.

Title page from ‘Five hundreth pointes of good husbandrie’ by Thomas Tusser (1585) RESERVE–630.942-TUS

As part of the project, Amy has written the following piece as an introduction to Tusser and his descendants, and his significance in the history of agricultural writing:

Tusser Illustrated

Thomas Tusser was a musician, farmer and writer who lived in the sixteenth century. He was born in Essex in 1524 to a family with gentry status. He was blessed with a singing voice good enough that he was sent to Wallingford to be a chorister, and later to St. Paul’s Cathedral where he made connections and friends. He was educated at Eton, and later at Cambridge. He spent ten years at court working as a musician for Lord Paget during King Edward VI’s reign, but left after ten years to go back to farming. He tried to farm three times but with each failure he went back to his music career. He married twice in his life and had children with his second wife, Amy Moon. He died in a debtor’s prison in 1580.
While Tusser was not a successful farmer, his book about farming was. His didactic poetry is said to be the beginning of the English rural didactic tradition, a tradition that has continued since in a variety of forms. A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry was expanded to Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry in 1573,with five editions being published during Tusser’s lifetime. His book has continued to be published throughout the centuries, one of these editions was revised by Dorothy Hartley and published in 1931.

Notes on husbandry in September in ‘Five hundreth pointes of good husbandrie’ by Thomas Tusser (1585) RESERVE–630.942-TUS

Hartley’s notes and correspondence suggest that she was planning an illustrated version of Tusser’s work based on her own research. She planned to have a frontispiece of Tusser’s farm as it was, and what seem to be a chapter of comparative images of the twentieth century and the sixteenth century. There are sketches in Hartley’s collection at MERL showing that she was working on a calendar based on Tusser’s work. She had done sketches for February, March, April, August and November. Three out of the five sketches depict women carrying out farming tasks.

Why did Hartley draw women in her sketches? It could be because she was a woman, but Tusser himself included A Hundred Good Points of Housewifery in his book which compliments the housewife and her work with reverence. He even said, “take huswife from husband, and what is he then?” His writing praises domestic harmony and family while also showing that he expects a wife to work too.

Title page of ‘Five hundred points of good husbandry’ by Thomas Tusser (1672) RESERVE–630.942-TUS

Another book in the agricultural instruction genre that has gender inclusive illustrations is A Book of Farmcraft by Michael Greenhill and Evelyn Dunbar. Michael Greenhill was 25 years old in 1941 when A Book of Farmcraft was written. He was an agricultural instructor at Sparsholt Farm Institute where land girls were trained. Evelyn Dunbar was a war artist who focused on depicting the efforts of women on the home front. She spent some time at Sparsholt to draw and paint the land girls’ training. Greenhill saw Dunbar’s art and how the land girls often did things wrong and thought they should write an instructional book together. A Book of Farmcraft was acclaimed for the use of teaching newcomers how to farm in a time when unskilled farm labour was needed.


All our editions of Tusser’s work are available to view through the Special Collections Service reading room.

Research bursaries available: Land Settlement Association and Landscape Institute

This year, thanks to the generous funding from an anonymous donor and the Landscape Institute we are pleased to offer bursaries to encourage use and engagement with our Land Settlement or Landscape Institute archives.

The Land Settlement Association was established in 1934 to provide employment on the land for unemployed industrial workers from depressed areas.  Find out more here.

The Landscape Institute was founded in 1929 as the Institute of Landscape Architects. It is the Royal Chartered institute for landscape architects.  Find out more here.

You can search our catalogue here.

Details below, please apply by email to

Image from our Land Settlement collections

Land Settlement Association: Academic Engagement Bursary

The purpose of this award is to encourage academic engagement with the Land Settlement archive held at Reading. The archive contains minutes, annual reports, accounts, estate records, correspondence, film, photographs, press cuttings and maps.

The successful proposal will attract a stipend of £1,500. The funding can be used to offset teaching and administration costs, travel and other research-related expenses.

Appropriate facilities are provided and the successful applicant will be encouraged to participate in the academic programmes of the Museum.

The intention for this award is to create an opportunity for a researcher to develop and disseminate new work relating to the Land Settlement Association.

Applications will be by email to  (please put “Land Settlement Bursary” in the subject line). Please outline the proposed research including dissemination outcomes of the research and budget for how the bursary will be spent. (e.g. conference paper, article, blog, exhibition etc).

Interested applicants should submit a CV and a statement (max 800 words) outlining their interest in the bursary, and current work.


Student travel bursaries

The purpose of the student travel bursaries is to enable student access to the Land Settlement or the Landscape Institute archives held at Reading. The collections include minutes, annual reports, accounts, estate records, correspondence, film, photographs, press cuttings, maps and published material.

  • One bursary of £150 to use our Land Settlement collections.
  • Two bursaries of £150 each to use our Landscape Institute collections.

Applications are invited from any student in part or full-time higher education.

Applications by email to (please put “Land Settlement Bursary” or “Landscape Institute Bursary” in the subject line)

Interested applicants should submit a CV, and a short statement (max 400 words) outlining their interest in the Land Settlement Association or Landscape Institute, stating how the bursary would be spent and how it would be beneficial to their studies.  Applicants should identify those materials in the archive that would be of most benefit to them.

AR JEL DO1 S2/20

Geoffrey Jellicoe collection, part of Landscape Institute collections, Shute House, AR JEL DO1 S2/20



Academic engagement bursary:

13 September 2017 – applications open

30 November 2017 – applications close

1 December 2017 – successful candidates announced

Any work will need to be carried out and finances claimed by 31 July 2017.


Student travel bursaries:

13 September 2017 – applications open

5 January 2018 – applications close

5 February 2018 – successful candidates announced

Any work will need to be carried out and finances claimed by 31 July 2017.


For informal enquiries please email

We look forward to receiving your applications!

January Book Sale

The MERL shop kicks off 2017 with the traditional January Sale. This is your chance to pick up some fantastic bargains, especially among our wide range of books.

book sale jan 17

None of us know what the internet sensation of 2017 will be. But there is no doubt that the sensation of 2016 was the MERL mousetrap story! Want to know the stories behind these deadly little devices? Dip into David Drummond’s “British mouse traps and their makers” (£1.50).

For anyone who has seen our new Evacuee interactive, we recommend two books by Martin Parsons – “War child” and “I’ll take that one” – through his research work, Martin was responsible for building up the Museum’s incredible collection of evacuee memoirs. He is a leading expert on the experiences of children in wartime and his books help to dispel many of the myths about this fascinating period. We have copies of both titles signed by the author (£6.00 and £5.00 respectively).

First encounters with the countryside are also dealt with by “In at the deep end” (£1.50). Agriculture lecturer Paul Harris gathered accounts from 41 students who – despite not growing up on a farm – took the brave decision to study agriculture and found themselves getting a year’s work experience. Completed only weeks before Dr Harris’s death in 2013, these are compelling and fascinating stories, where the warmth of the welcome given by the farmers and farmworkers stands in contrast with the cold of the winter mornings!

If you enjoyed our apple-themed activities at the Grand Re-opening Festival, then Michael Clark’s “Apples, a field guide” (£5.00) may well be the book for you. It can help you to identify that unknown apple growing in your garden or in the park. Or if you are feeling ambitious, you can use it to help you choose which variety to plant! Of course, if you want to go even further and take the path to self-sufficiency, then what better than Sonia Kurta’s “No dear, that’s a pheasant, we’re peasants” (£2.50), full of the pitfalls of having a smallholding and tips for those brave enough to try living “the good life”.

Whatever your interests – from folk art to traction engines and from literature to local history – there are plenty more bargains to be picked up this month. The MERL Shop Sale runs until 5 February.

Discovering the Landscape: how to use our collections in your research

Are you an undergraduate, postgraduate, independent researcher or at school?

Are you studying history, geography, architecture, environmental science, ecology or design?

Then come and use our landscape collections in your research (if you’re an undergraduate apply for one of our landscape student bursaries).  We’ve even got topic and resource ideas listed here.

So why use our landscape collections?  And how?

3 reasons to use our landscape collections:

1. National significance

MERL now holds the best collection of 20th century landscape archives and library material in the UK.  Our Landscape Institute collections hold everything from plans, drawings, slides, books, journals and pamphlets to the LI’s institutional archive containing all of their corporate records, such as minutes and membership files.

So if you are interested in a particular project (from anywhere across the UK), a specific landscape architect (maybe Jellicoe, Crowe, Colvin?), the Landscape Institute itself or the emergence of landscape architecture as a profession then we have what you need.

Lots of our other collections support landscape studies too, such as The Land Settlement Association and the Open Spaces Society.

AR JEL DO1 S2/20

Geoffrey Jellicoe collection, Shute House, AR JEL DO1 S2/20

2.  Explore your archive

Every day we inhabit built and natural environments.  The landscape is all around us, all the time, shaping and informing our lives.

You can reveal all that our landscape collections have to offer by using them in your research.  You can draw out previously unknown themes, connections and discoveries.

We house the collections, keeping them safe and making them available to you.

But only you can bring them alive by using them in your research.

For the MERL and Special Collections teams to thrive, we need tea.  (Never near the collections, of course).  For our landscape collections to shine, they need to be accessed and used.

So be inspired by the National Archives Explore Your Archive week: come and find our more about our landscape collections.

Colvin inscription to the Jellicoe's, in the front cover of a 2nd edition of her Land and Landscape.

Colvin inscription to the Jellicoe’s, in the front cover of a 2nd edition of her Land and Landscape.


3. Visual delights!

Our Reading Room visitors are greeted by our beautiful peacock stained glass window

Our Reading Room visitors are greeted by our beautiful peacock stained glass window

We host a lot of reader’s in our wonderful Reading Room.  So we know that you could spend many studious hours looking at reports, minutes or papers.

All very good research that is too.

But you could be looking at this stuff:

(just saying)

Highlights from our Landscape Institute Collections

Highlights from our Landscape Institute Collections


How to search and access our landscape collections

We hope you have been inspired to use our landscape collections.  Here’s how you can find out more:

Students: your landscape archive needs you

If you are an undergraduate student, don’t forget you have until the end of February 2017 to apply for a bursary to support your use of our landscape collections.  Click here for more information.

Please feel free to get in touch with our Reading Room if you have any questions. We look forward to welcoming you and telling you more about our landscape collections.  

Written by Project Librarian: Claire Wooldridge

Discovering the Landscape: Treasures Exhibition at the University Library

We’re delighted that this exhibition can now be seen at the University Library:

Discovering the Landscape: treasures from the collections of the Landscape Institute

Peter Shepheard sketchbook on display in 'Discovering the Landscape' exhibition at the University Library

Peter Shepheard sketchbook on display in ‘Discovering the Landscape’ exhibition at the University Library

Where? University Library Foyer, Whiteknights campus

When? April – June 2016  (during opening hours)

What? This display will showcase a selection of important archive materials and books from the Landscape Institute collections, including rare books dating from sixteenth century to the present day. See stunning sketch books, fascinating photographs and beautifully illustrated book plates and fold out plans.   

How much? Free!

We’re very pleased to report that this exhibition has gone on tour to the University Library.

So what are you waiting for?  Visit the exhibition and take this special opportunity to explore our Landscape Institute collections with us.

Plate from 'The art and practice of landscape gardening', by Henry Ernest Milner - now on display in 'Discovering the Landscape' exhibition at the University Library

Plate from ‘The art and practice of landscape gardening’, by Henry Ernest Milner – now on display in ‘Discovering the Landscape’ exhibition at the University Library

As ever contact us on for further information or click here.

Written by Project Librarian: Claire Wooldridge

Community projects: how to get involved

An update on some of the exciting projects and plans we’re working as part of our redevelopment project – and details of how you can get involved, by Phillippa Heath, Audience Development Manager.

In addition to the Museum’s physical redevelopment we have also been developing our work with our diverse audiences. As well as our existing visitors, we are also keen to involve those who have yet to visit us in the museum’s work (be they from our local communities or from further afield) and are doing so through a programme of activities. This three-year programme of projects and consultation will allow our audiences to get more involved in how MERL represents the countryside and tells the stories that illuminate its collections. This involves establishing links with our local community, to help foster partnerships and ensure that the Museum can become a place where our diverse audiences can come together. To this end, the Activity Plan team have been out and about within Reading and the University, engaging with people and organisations and developing relationships.

Our forums
Our three forums are opportunities for audiences to share their views and opinions on our collections and our activity programmes. We currently have three ongoing forums – The Family Forum (next event June 3rd), the Student Panel (for those aged between 18 and 25) and The Countryside Forum (for those with a relationship with the countryside). These forums take place both on-site at MERL or off-site at community locations.

Student panel ideas


Hands on Heritage projects
Working with a number of community partners our Hands on Heritage projects involve people accessing and responding to our collections. Through these projects we have established relationships with a variety of communities including Katesgrove Community Association, Reading Chinese Association, The Greater Reading Nepalese Community Association, Reading Mencap, the Indian Community Centre, the Elizabeth Fry Approved Premises, the Barbados and Friends Association, Reading College, The Rising Sun Arts Centre, Norcot Community Association and the Royal Berkshire Hospital. From object handling, film competitions to exhibition, gardening, music and reminiscence projects, opportunities for working and responding to our collections are wide-ranging.

Student looking at a museum object

Student looking at a museum object

Volunteering opportunities
The Museum’s redevelopment is allowing us to build on our very successful volunteering programme, creating new opportunities for volunteering. Our new Young Volunteers programme has been established for those between the age of 14 and 18. Volunteering tasks can range from a diverse range of activities from cataloguing, marketing, events to gardening.

We are always looking for individuals and groups to be involved. Please contact Phillippa at or call 0118 378 8660 for more information.


Discovering the Landscape #23: New Towns, Landscape and Gordon Patterson

Guest post written by Penny Beckett, Chair of FOLAR

MERL is to host FOLAR’s third AGM and Study Session: New Towns, Landscape and Gordon Patterson – Celebrating mid 20C Design on Saturday 19 March 2016.  MERL staff will mount an exhibition of related New Town material selected from the Landscape Institute’s archive and from other collections held at MERL, including the CPRE and Land Settlement archives.

The theme of the afternoon study session (and exhibition), is to shed light on various aspects of twentieth century New Town design and planning and explore how the ideas generated last century can help inform the designs of such new settlements in the 21st Century.

Click here for more info & to book.

Boys fishing on the lake at Stevenage Town Gardens. Copyright HALS.

Boys fishing on the lake at Stevenage Town Gardens. Copyright HALS.

FOLAR has an impressive line up of speakers:


Elain Harwood: Housing, Traffic and Landscape – detailed urban planning in the New Towns.

Senior architectural advisor at Heritage England (HE), Elain is responsible for post war research and listing programme and has been an active member of the Twentieth Century Society for many years.  Her most recent book Space, Hope & Brutalism; English Architecture 1945-1975, was published by Yale University Press in 2015, and she is currently working on a book for HE about English New Towns.  

Radburn planning at Brontë Paths, Stevenage, 1962. Image Elain Harwood

Radburn planning at Brontë Paths, Stevenage, 1962. Image: Elain Harwood

Tom Turner: Landscape planning for London and the New Towns in the 1940s (talk and video).

A landscape architect and garden historian, for many years Tom taught at the University of Greenwich.  He is a firm believer in the need for open and vigorous debate on all aspects of landscape architecture and garden design.  In 1998 he launched and in 2015, with Robert Holden, he launched the website of the Landscape Architects Association to promote the profession’s capabilities.  Tom’s presentation will include a short film, drawing on his books, Landscape planning, 1987, and City as landscape, 1996, and making a recommendation for a landscape urbanism approach to the design of new towns in the 21st century.

London’s Green Belt and proposed location of New Towns. Image: Tom Turner

London’s Green Belt and proposed location of New Towns. Image: Tom Turner

Oliver Rock: Landscape without Boundaries.

Rock is a landscape architect with HTA Landscape Design practice.  In 2011, the practice won the Landscape Institute’s Heritage & Conservation Award for their restoration of Stevenage Town Gardens.  

View of Lake, Stevenage Town Gardens, c. 1960. Copyright HALS.

View of Lake, Stevenage Town Gardens, c. 1960. Copyright HALS.

These gardens were originally designed (1959-61) by Gordon Patterson.  As the award citation puts it, HTA’s design ‘captures some of the optimism and civic spirit of the original (design) while ensuring the gardens remain relevant today’. Oliver will also be talking about the practice’s current restoration of Hemel Water Gardens, a scheme originally designed by Geoffrey Jellicoe.  

Restored lake, Stevenage Town Gardens, 2011. Copyright Tim Crocker.

Restored lake, Stevenage Town Gardens, 2011. Copyright Tim Crocker.

FOLAR hopes that Gordon Patterson, for many years the landscape architect for Stevenage New Town will be able to join us. His archive is one of the latest additions to the Landscape Institute’s collections at MERL.

From the Land Settlement Association Archives at MERL. CR_3LSA_PH1_A_15_1

From the Land Settlement Association Archives at MERL. (CR_3LSA_PH1_A_15_1)

Lastly, Caroline Gould, the University’s deputy archivist will be talking about the New Town related material from other special collections held at MERL, including the CPRE and Land Settlement archives.

For further details and to book for the FOLAR study session and exhibition email: or click here.  Tickets for the FOLAR study session and exhibition: £10.  Bookings are limited so please book early.

How a mouse died in our Victorian mouse trap

Written by Adam Koszary, Project Officer.

If you’ve been on the internet for the past few days then you may have heard about the mouse which died in our Victorian mousetrap.


We are very pleased and a little surprised to have gone viral, and since our original blog post have some updates on our rodent friend. For one thing, we think that the mouse is a she. Our conservator believes that she was trying to build a nest and while nibbling the label on the trap, the string attaching it to the object fell inside. Chasing the string, the mouse found itself trapped.

The trap works with a see-saw mechanism.

The trap works with a see-saw mechanism.

David Drummond, who donated his collection of traps to the Museum, provides this diagram of the trap in his 2008 book, 'British Mouse Traps and their makers', 2008.

David Drummond, who donated his collection of traps to the Museum, provides this diagram of the trap in his 2008 book, ‘British Mouse Traps and their makers’, 2008.

The trap itself operates by a see-saw mechanism in its middle, which allows a mouse to enter the trap but then finds the door has swung shut on it. The owner of the humane trap would then release the mouse afterward. As we don’t expect these traps to be working as mousetraps we don’t tend to check them regularly, hence the fact that the mouse sadly perished in this instance.

Colin Pullinger outside his factory. ©David Drummond: 2008.

Colin Pullinger outside his factory. ©David Drummond: 2008.

Its inventor Colin Pullinger operated what he called the ‘Inventive Factory’, which is where he designed his first commercial success, the Perpetual Mouse Trap. During his most productive period in the 1880s his staff of around 40 men and boys churned out 960 traps a week.

Pullinger’s presence in his hometown of Selsey is denoted by a blue plaque, but now his reputation has experienced a new boost, with many people online praising the effectiveness of his trap in the modern age.

The mouse somehow managed to get inside one of our glass-fronted cabinets.

The mouse somehow managed to get inside one of our glass-fronted cabinets.

In our previous post we were undecided on what to do with the mouse, but we have now decided to preserve it. The mouse was giving off quite a stink, which suggests that her death was fairly recent, and so was fumigated by our Conservator.

For now, her body rests in a small, tissue-paper tray surrounded by silica gel in a sealed plastic box. The silica gel will dry out the mouse and make it safe for display in our new galleries. The Museum is about to begin constructing our new exhibitions, and it’s safe to say that this mouse will be front and centre.

The empty space in the rear right of the cabinet is where the trap was formerly stored.

The empty space in the rear right of the cabinet is where the trap was formerly stored.

And for those who have smelled a rat, we can categorically deny that we planted the mouse in the trap in order to gain this publicity. Not only does it go against every rule in Conservation and museum ethics, we don’t think any of our staff are Machiavellian enough to have pulled it off.

For an insight into why this mouse trap went viral, check back tomorrow for another blog post.

The mouse is currently being prepared by our Conservator.

The mouse is currently being prepared by our Conservator.

Object handling with Addington School

A little while ago we welcomed students from The Addington School who came to find out what it’s like to work in a museum. Assistant Volunteer Coordinator Rhiannon really enjoyed introducing them to the world of museums, our collections and the role of the curator…

Last term the museum welcomed a group of Further Education (FE) students from The Addington School in Woodley. They came to the museum to find out what it is like to work in a museum as part of their Transitions Workplace Training. Other businesses that have shown Addington students around their world of work include Reading Buses and Reading Fire Station, so we had a lot to live up to.

Working with students at Addington

Working with students from Addington

The objective of the session was that the students would go away with knowledge of the purpose of museums, an understanding of what we do at The Museum of English Rural Life and having had a chance to actually handle some museum objects and guess what they were. The day started with a quick brainstorm of what the group already knew about museums, with us asking questions such as ‘What is a museum?’, ‘What do you find in a museum?’, ‘Who works in a museum?’ and ‘Who visits museums?’. The answers we got were hugely varied ranging from “old people go to museums” to “at a museum you find things on the walls”. Some of our particular favourite comments about museums were that they are “special” and “magical” places, “that they are for everyone” and also we saw a statement that “museums are boring” as a personal challenge to prove them wrong!

After establishing general information about museums we enjoyed taking the group on a special behind the scenes tour of the building. First we had a look at the gallery space; confirming someone’s earlier comment that museums are big places by seeing the open space we have whilst the museum is being redeveloped. Next came a trip up to the mezzanine level where the students got their first glimpse of some of the objects they would be handling later on. Guessing what different corn dollies represented was a particular hit, as was a procession past all of the tools hung on the mezzanine wall.

Once the students had seen some (actually hundreds) of objects it was time for a rundown of how to handle them. The group put themselves into the mind-set of a curator who had been given a set of objects that they had to identify using sight, sound, smell and most importantly touch. Some objects were harder to identity than others; a Strickle (a tool used to sharpen scythes) and a Polehead from 1700s, testing the students curatorial powers the most. It was wonderful to see the real respect the group had for the objects, even under the extremely tempting circumstance of being told not to ring a sheep bell!

We had a marvellous day with the students and it was a joy to introduce them to the world of museums. We hope that they went away with a new appreciation of museums and the type of work that goes on within them, as well as some changed minds about whether or not museums are boring!

Students exploring a museum object

Students exploring a museum object

Volunteers’ Voice: 2015 round-up

Volunteer Coordinator Rob Davies looks back at a year of volunteering at MERL and the Special Collections.

Another year, another year of fabulous volunteer projects; 2015 saw a whole host of new volunteer projects and successes. We also benefitted from the new post of Assistant Volunteer Coordinator, Rhiannon Watkinson, who has worked tirelessly with the volunteers. The Our Country Lives Activity Plan has informed the volunteering programme, taking us in new directions with the resources to support new projects.

Phillippa and Polly at Student Volunteering Fayre

With the museum closed for the redevelopment project, we turned the ceaseless energy of the volunteer tour guides towards the Swing Riots and object handling training projects. (Although some did satisfy their tour guide urges by leading tours around our Victorian building during Heritage Open Days.) As a result of this a new project, our object handling volunteers will be ready for the reopening of the museum, leading handling sessions for visitors to the galleries;  Our Swing Riots team are continuing to perform across the county, giving performances at Reading and Wokingham Libraries to name a few.

Deep within the archives and libraries volunteers have been quietly beavering away on projects  for MERL and the Special Collections, such as Mills and Boon, Landscape Institute, Farmers Weekly. A large project that has included many volunteers is the Nancy Astor indexing project and we are finally nearing the end of the project.

Even though the Museum has been closed we’ve continued to host and attend events. Volunteers have been vital to these events. We had a great day at the Big Lunch in the summer on the London Road Campus, the sun was beating down and we were inundated by families all eager to talk to us and have a go at the activities. We couldn’t attend outreach events such as the Berkshire Show, the East Reading Festival or Reading Town Meal, without our volunteers. As well as supporting events, they also lead on some, including the Swing Riots and the recent Our Christmas Traditions event.

Volunteers at RTM

A young volunteer project has been piloted, with the young volunteers now forming a permanent core of the volunteer team. They are aged 14 to 18 and are volunteering on a range of projects from archives to gardening. We had a team of volunteers from Reading College tidying up the MERL garden after the builders left, it was great fun and they harvested buckets and buckets of grapes.

Volunteers have also taken part in the Sew Engaging project which aims to encourage people to think artistically about their relationship with the countryside through tapestry and quilting. Volunteers helped to start the project by preparing packs and making designs; and many have made their own patches. They’ll now be helping us stitch it all together.

Volunteers at Sew Engaging

To say thank you, Rhiannon organised a trip to St Fagan’s in October where we had a private behind the scenes tour and met members of their team. We had a Summer party and a Christmas party, which is always a great opportunity for volunteers across the board to come together. We couldn’t do half of what we do without our wonderful, enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers. I personally think I have the best job in the world because I work with so many different and interesting people. I am looking forward to 2016 with great excitement.