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Foundling Museum

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  • 1 Review on “Foundling Museum”

    • marilyn
      7 years ago

      Sited near Russell Square Station on one side of Brunswick Square and a stone’s throw from the refurbished and bustling Brunswick Square complex, we come to the Foundling Museum. A brief history of this place will enhance our enjoyment and evoke the past, how we acted and how we thought (full information is easily found online).

      Born in Lyme Regis, Dorset, Thomas Coram was sent to sea aged 12, later settling in Massachusetts. How he made a fortune seems unclear but, having done so (possibly as a shipwright and sea captain), he became in time a noted philanthropist. Legend has it that on moving to London he was appalled by the sight of abandoned, unwanted infants left to die in the streets. The museum we visit today is the descendant of the hospital Coram founded in 1739 for these babies. There were firm rules of admission, and the children were cared for strictly but (one hopes) as kindly as tuned in with the ethic of the time. Many of the girls were trained for domestic service and the boys for the army. This continued for over 200 years, with harrowing stories in the museum’s archives. Finally closing in 1954 after 25,000 children had passed through its doors, it transformed into the Coram Foundation whose purpose remains the care and well-being of children in all its varied ways.

      Not the least of the interests raised by this place – and no doubt the reason for many visits – are the artefacts relating to the well-known figures of Coram’s time who became involved and assisted financially and otherwise, notably Handel and Hogarth (a founding governor). A performance of Messiah was given for the Hospital, and Handel wrote a Foundling anthem. No space here to detail the Handel memorabilia (collected mainly by George Coke), so go to see it all for yourself. The later history is equally interesting, as well as the struggle to get the fields outside (now Coram’s Fields) safely maintained as a children’ playground.

      Small, delightful exhibitions are held here, often relating to various aspects of Handel, his music, his divas. But don’t wait for an exhibition – the place itself is fascinating.

      To terminate our visit there is a pleasant small café, its walls lined with the names of children accepted here and, as we eat, perhaps bear in mind that their diet was assuredly less varied than ours.

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