A very distant relation T H Heathcote, whose portrait
hangs on the staircase was the pastor here when
Thomas Coram,& G F Handel were involved in caring
for these poor wee souls. It is heartbreaking to hear
of the mothers giving their children up because they were too poor to keep them.Many of them died.
(Let us not forget this still happens in many countries of the Far East & Africa today)
I love the fact that locals fought to keep the space for children in perpetuity
from the hands of greedy developers. I suspect the fight will be on again one
day in the not-too-distant future
The Foundling Museum tells the story of The Foundling Hospital established by Thomas Coram in 1739. The sad fate of London's abandoned babies and children, upset the mariner, and he began to campaign for something to be done. After 17 years, he was granted a Royal Charter and able to open up a hospital to care for these children. The Foundling Hospital is a fascinating story intertwined with those of famous Bloomsbury residents especially Handel, who used to raise money for the hospital by giving an annual performance of Messiah.
For culture buffs, the museum is also home to the largest collection of Handel memorabilia outside the British Museum, and has pictures painted by Hogarth, Gainsborough and Reynolds.
Once a month the museum holds a family day when entry is free, and there are a variety of workshops and activities for children.
Berry did a very nice job of setting forth the highlights of the Foundling Museum. I wanted to add my appreciation for the place! We had a little difficulty finding it, but it was worth the trouble. The museum is a fascinating combination: interesting, and heartbreaking, exhibits on the foundlings of London, along side some beautiful paintings. I especially loved the Handel room. Handel was one of the early patrons of the Foundling Home, and the museum has an extensive collection of Handel materials. There are three comfortable chairs in which one can sit and listen to music.
All in all, a great place, and not visited enough.
The Foundling Museum is one of London's lesser known museums - dealing as it does with the orphans and unwanted children of the 18th century and the patrons who rescued them.
You'll realise how tough life was for the young back then, see the tokens desperate mothers left with their abandoned babies and be appalled at the way in which Middle and Upper class ladies conducted the lottery system of choosing which babies the orphanage would take in - or not.
Upstairs there's a wonderful music room (Handel was one of the patrons who raised funds for the orphanage). Here you can select pieces of music to enjoy from your leather seat.
If you don't shed a tear whilst visiting The Foundling Museum, a cardiologist should see you pronto!
Once done, treat yourself to something nice from the cafe - Coram Cafe - where the staff are superfriendly and the Brownies worth ditching your diet for.
During the Bloomsbury Festival we popped in here to enjoy this small and imtimate museum. Crowded though it was, the exhibits really still resonate with the kind of life the orphans or displaced children in the 18th and 19th centuries. 3 floors of this traditional building house photos, documents and clothing that show the plight of children who were taken into the first orphanage of its kind. Young single mothers who were poor or in service in the 1700's had little hope of raising children and this was, for many, the only hope of saving their child's life.
Children had a strict regime of working and wore uniforms not dissimilar to servants - many were apprenticed to trandesmen etc by the age of 10.
A fascinating but poignant look at the revolution of social services and makes you feel lucky.
There's a nice little cafe overlooking Coram's fields in the front of the building for coffee and a to regain composure afterwards!
A good range of teas and a fine display of cakes. Also savouries for lunch til 1500 sandwiches (with gluten free option), soups, pastries, bagels, salads, for between £4 and £7. We had homemade style flapjack and lemon and poppyseed cake. Lovely clean, bright space overlooking Corams Fields, with some outside tables too. A quiet backwater, this is a great option for lunch or afternoon tea, or just to meet a friend, or escape the bustle. And the museum is interesting too (see separate entry).
An incredible part of London's history.
The Foundling Hospital was set up in the 18th century by Thomas Coram, whose statue is outside the museum, as an orphanage for unwanted babies who otherwise would have lived in destitution (if at all!). Nearby Coram's Fields, what is left of the site, remains a children's park and charity.
The museum documents the story of the orphanage from its beginnings to poignant stories of its inhabitants' lives. So many mothers used to queue up to leave their babies there that a lottery system was used to choose which babies could be taken in. It is horrifying to learn the extent of poverty and destitution children faced living on the streets in the 18th and 19th centuries.
I like this museum because it has hot chocolate in a long glass, and you can sit in its cafe or outside by Corams' statue and read the paper. It is reassuringly quiet and calming inside - you can even sit back in a comfy chair and listen to music by Handel, one of the Foundling Hospital's founding benefactors.
The Foundling Hospital features a lot in Dickens, (who lived nearby) - in Little Dorrit there is a foundling called Tatty Coram who is made to remember her place and how lucky she is by the condescending couple who adopt her as a servant.
If a fan, you could make this part of a Dickens day out - the Dickens' House museum is nearby, the Boot pub features in Barnaby Rudge, and many of his characters' names are taken from nearby streets.
One of the best museums in London.
I loved the voices (when I could hear them) and the scrapbook.
I enjoyed the paintings , and ironically it as mostly men.It says a lot about the time.
I learned more about Hogarth and Handel, in particular, their interest in philanthropy.
The best bits were the voices, they brought it to life.
The staff were enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and had a sense of humour.
They had a good book selection in the shop too.
It was interesting to hear about unofficial adoptions, and how famillies used to take on unwanted kids. Actually you don't seem to hear so much about it now, maybe families don't the burden of extra kids. I work with a young lad in Kent whose parents died of cancer and his mother's uncle took them on and adopted them. Perhaps in bereavement, famillies do take them on. It would be interesting to hear more about such adoptive famillies.
I would like to learn about about foundlings round the world, perhaps in war and in Europe. I read that in South Africa they so many kids were being born because of the Football World cup and they had to have some kind of 'drop in box'. Also I heard of the Royal Wedding babyboom,particularly as it was hard to get emergency protection with all the bank holidays. Alcohol and adult irresponsibility I expect has a big part to play in producing lots of unplanned children.
When I told my friend about the place, who may be a teacher soon, he wanted to come, although at first he didn't think it was worthwhile. It also turns out that his own father was brought up in a Foundling Institution due to family circumstances.
A lot of the exhibition seem to focus on 'it being just the woman's fault' but it takes two to tango. It would be perhaps a good idea to show what responsibilities the man had towards their child, for example, nowadays, they have the child support agency and now they are thinking of getting tougher with absent fathers by very tough means by whipping away their driving licence. Even nowadays men in this country, and abroad, do not want to use contraception.
Another reason why it is not always the woman's fault by having kids, it is because of having babies through rape, and the woman being against abortion.
I had no time to visit the reknowned Coram coffee shop - alas!
There was a Coram playground but I was not allowed in as I had no child.
It was a shame as it had animals and coming from a farm, it would have been nice to walk in the park.
I recommemd at the very least to have 2.5 hours to visit the museum, then spend a little time at the cafe afterwards.
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