Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Foundling Museum

Situated in a leafy Bloomsbury cul-de-sac between the British Museum and the British Library is the Foundling Museum--unlike anything else, anywhere. Last Friday the Marketors had a private viewing of this emotionally loaded museum with an expert guide

The Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, Britain's first home for abandoned children.Through the tireless work of Thomas Coram, who was appalled at the number of babies abandoned every year, the hospital was set up ''for the maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children.''There were many early eighteenth century benefactors including Hogarth and Handel. Many artists and sculptors donated work including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Roubiliac and many others. The art is still there to be enjoyed including the famous Hogarth satirical painting, worth £millions shown on the right : ''March of The Guards To Finchley'' Before the opening of the Royal Academy the Foundling Museum was the main art gallery in London open to the public

The composer Handel was a Governor and major supporter of the hospital and the museum also contains the world's greatest collection of Handel memorabilia collected over a lifetime by an avid Handel admirer and donated to the museum. The saddest part of the museum is the display of Foundling tokens (coins, a button, jewelry, a poem, half a playing card). These were given by mothers leaving their babies, allowing the Foundling Hospital to match a mother with her child should she ever come back to retrieve her offspring. Few ever did.

The charity work for children started by Thomas Coram carries on today through the Coram charity, one of the beneficiaries of Lord Mayor Michael Bear's appeal, Bear Necessities.

At the end of the visit we walked the short distance to the North Sea Fish Restaurant for a fine fish dinner and convivial conversation

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