Mother’s Union Visit to the Foundling Museum 11 June 2015
Our June meeting took the form of a day trip to the Foundling Museum in London. At our April meeting an “old boy” Mr. Guy Chesham told us all about the Foundling School, the Institution started by Mr. Thomas Coram 275 years ago. Guy had been brought up there.
It was a glorious day and we had an excellent driver who delivered us safely. We were met by a guide who gave us an informative talk about Mr. Coram and the Museum. He was an amazing man and very compassionate towards unwanted babies at a time when many were left in the streets to die. It took Mr. Coram 17 years to get permission from King George II to form the charity. He bought over 56 acres of land in London and built the school – all this for a total of £7,000. At later times when funds were scarce he sold off parcels of land to raise resources.
The school was eventually supported very well. Two particular patrons were the painter William Hogarth, who encouraged British artists to paint pictures of staff and pupils. Also George Handel, who held concerts at the school to which affluent people flocked to be seen there. Apparently, ladies were asked not to wear crinolines as they took up too much room! Emma Hamilton, mistress of Nelson, even climbed through a window as she was unable to obtain admittance to one function.
The paintings became the first art exhibition in the country and can still be seen. There are two marvellous paintings of naval battles and even a Canaletto scene of Venice.
We had lunch there and then attended a concert in one of the main rooms. Two extremely talented young people played flute (Charlotte Ashton) and piano (Joseph Havlat). This was arranged by The Martin Musical Scholarship Fund. It was excellent
A very special day was enjoyed by us all.
Account by Joan Towers
Being a Mother’s Union member I was very interested to see the museum once again. The last time was approximately 20 years ago with my late husband Ernie, a ‘Coram Boy’.
The weather was perfect, bright and sunny all day, when we arrived the statue of Thomas Coram brought memories year 1722 Coram a sailor embarked on a long campaign to win support and to stir public interest as it was horrifying to see sick and dying babies in the city. Walking around the museum with the guide we saw wonderful paintings by Hogarth which showed the terrible life that was endured then. A nice lunch at a nearby café, pre-booked, well organised by Eunice and Sheila also a delightful concert was laid on by piano and flute. We could sit outside or walk around the garden enjoying the warm sunshine in Coram fields where children play. Altogether a lovely day.
Kate Aide was an adoptive girl and was the “Reporter of the Year” Best seller “Nobody’s Child” awarded OBE in 1993. Well worth reading.