"The Foundling Museum" Top 5 Page for this destination Foundling Museum Tip by Mariajoy

Foundling Museum, London: 3 reviews and 11 photos

  Foundling Museum
by Mariajoy
  • Foundling Museum - London
      Foundling Museum
    by Mariajoy
  • The Foundling Museum - London
      The Foundling Museum
    by Mariajoy
  • Foundling Museum - London
      Foundling Museum
    by Mariajoy
  • Thomas Coram - London
      Thomas Coram
    by Mariajoy

Bloomsbury is a wonderful part of London to explore on foot, and as I was in the area I decided to check out The Foundling Museum.

In the 1700's the wealthy sea captain Thomas Coram, was appalled by the number of abandoned babies he saw in London so he set about founding an orphanage for illegitimate babies under 1 year old and in good health. He was supported in his endeavours by the composer Handel and the painter of social history Hogarth and so as well as the the orphanage, this site was also London's first ever public art gallery - the funds gained from the patronage of London's elite maintained the foundling hospital.

The orphanage changed location in the 20th century but the original Foundling Hospital still stands and is home to the largest display of Handel's musical scores anywhere in the world and a collection of Hogarths and Gainsborough paintings which hang in the original Court Room where destitute mothers would have to stand before well to do and well meaning Christian *Ladies* who, keen to support the arts and show how charitable they were, would decide if the baby would be taken in, be put on the reserve list, or be rejected.

You won't see dormitories full of ancient lead-painted cots, or row upon row of inky desks (they weren't taught to write - it wasn't considered necessary for the jobs they would be doing) but you will see a small cabinet displaying tiny little love tokens, left on their babies by desperate mothers - little beaded bracelets, brooches, notelets, and all kinds of mementos - Mothers who gave up their babies hoping that one day they may have a better life. The children were just educated enough to work as maid servants and apprentices, but they were fed and well taken care of and at least had a chance of a better future. It's heartbreaking... take tissues!!

The Coram Family still works today to help the socially deprived and vulnerable children of London.

Address: 40 Brunswick Square WC1
Directions: Russell Square tube
Phone: +44 20 7841 3600
Website: http://www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 29, 2006
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