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London
The Foundling Museum
40 Brunswick Square
Bloomsbury,
London WC1N 1AZ
TfL Fare  Zone 1
 
 
   
In Brunswick Square, on the western side of Coram's Fields in Camden, is The Foundling Museum.
 
Although not well known as a ‘must see’ location, this museum and art gallery is a gem. It owns works by some of the greatest artists of the 18th century and original scores by the famous Baroque composer, George Frideric Handel.
 
The Foundling Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital and three major figures in British history - the campaigning founder philanthropist Thomas Coram, the artist William Hogarth and George Frideric Handel.
 
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Coram’s Fields was the site of the Foundling Hospital. This quaint name refers to what we would now call an institution for orphans. In 18th century London, unwanted children were abandoned.
 
Safety for Abandoned Children
These superfluous and illegitimate children were either abandoned on the streets and left to die or were handed to the tender mercies of the parish. If they were lucky and survived they ended up in either Poor-houses or the Workhouse. Mortality rates were extremely high: over 70% of children born in London at that time died before they were five years old.
 
When wealthy ship-builder and merchant Captain Thomas Coram arrived in London he was horrified by the spectacle of so many abandoned, homeless children living in the streets. With the assistance of his friend Hogarth he campaigned for the establishment of a home for unwanted children.
 
On 17 October 1739 he obtained a Royal Charter granted by King George II to establish a "hospital for the maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children." The first children were admitted on 25 March 1741 to temporary accommodation. The Hospital was completed in 1745 and extended in 1752.
 
In the 1920s the Foundling Hospital relocated to outside London. Between 1739 and 1954 when the Hospital closed 27,000 children had passed through its doors receiving nurture and education.
 
Coram's Fields Children's area
The original hospital buildings were demolished but the site in Coram’s Fields is now a children’s play area and petting zoo, which refuses entry to adults unaccompanied by children.
 
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The Foundling Museum now occupies part of the Coram’s Fields site and houses the Foundling Hospital Collection together with the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, the world's greatest privately amassed collection of Handel memorabilia.
 
Foundling Tokens
One of the most touching exhibits in the Museum is the foundling tokens. Mementoes such as coins, a button, jewellery, or a poem were given by mothers leaving their babies, allowing the Foundling Hospital to match a mother with her child should she ever come back to claim it. Sadly, the overwhelming majority of the children never saw their mothers again. The tokens are still in the care of the museum.
 
Hogarth & Handel Hospital Governors
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Both Hogarth and Handel were Hospital Governors and their endowments in the form of paintings and compositions helped to fund the charity. The collection includes works of art by prominent eighteenth century artists including Hogarth, Gainsborough, Reynolds, and Roubiliac. These works effectively made the Foundling Hospital the nation's first public art gallery available to the public.
 
Handel bequeathed the score of parts of the 'Messiah' to the Hospital as well as writing an anthem especially for it. The Gerald Coke Handel Collection contains material relating to Handel and his contemporaries such as manuscripts, printed books and music, libretti, paintings and engravings, memorabilia, art works and ephemera.
 
A tour through the Museum is a delight for Handel and Hogarth enthusiasts. Thomas Coram’s great work continues as the independent childcare charity the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, which is today known as Coram.
 
Plan Your Visit
Disabled Access
Fully accessible.
The Museum has ramped access, a lift to all floors, accessible toilets and a cloakroom.
 
Facilities
Cafe and Gift Shop.
 
Opening Times 
Closed Mondays
Tuesday - Saturday  10:00 - 17:00 hours
Sunday                    11:00 - 17:00 hours
Current information can be found Web:Foundling Museum/ Visitor Information
 
Admission Costs - National Trust Partner
The Museum is a National Trust Partner Museum, entitling Members to 50% off admission on presentation of a valid National Trust England membership card. All exhibitions and displays are included with admission.
 
Current information can be found Web:  Foundling Museum/ Visitor Information
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone  +44 (0)2078 413 600
Mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Getting There
TfL Fare Zone 1 
To find the best way for getting to The Foundling Museum, visit TfL Journey Planner.
 
- By Underground
Russell Square Station    Piccadilly Line
Holborn Station              Central and Piccadilly lines
Kings Cross Station         Hammersmith & City, Circle, Piccadilly, Northern, Victoria & Metropolitan Lines
 
The Foundling Museum website has a most useful map  Web:  Getting There map