New exhibition uncovers hidden stories of foundlings

New exhibition uncovers hidden stories of foundlings

Discover the moving history of Coram, the UK's first children's charity, as tales from the 18th century of grief, separation and hardship are brought to life at Fate, Hope & Charity, a new exhibition at the Foundling Museum

Taking as a starting point the small everyday objects – or tokens – that mothers left with their babies at the Foundling Hospital to help with identification should they ever be in a position to reclaim them, the exhibition uncovers the stories of the women who gave up their babies, and what became of the foundling pupils themselves.

Visitors can also discover how the Foundling Hospital's work to create better chances for children continues today on the same site through the children's charity Coram.

Detective work

It is the result of seven years’ painstaking detective work by independent researchers Janette Bright and Dr Gillian Clark and reveals for the first time the often tragic circumstances of the women and children connected with the Founding Hospital.

Tragic tales

One heart-wrenching story from 1757 concerns Margaret Larney. Under sentence of death for attempting to counterfeit money, she wrote a letter requesting the admission to the Hospital of her then unborn son.  He was lucky enough to be admitted. She was less fortunate. Immediately after the birth, she was taken to Tyburn and executed by strangulation and burning. 

Margaret’s letter of petition to the Hospital is on display alongside other tokens including scraps of fabric, coins, jewellery, buttons, poems, playing cards and a simple nut.

Contemporary storytellers

The Foundling Museum has commissioned prominent artists, authors, songwriters and musicians to create new stories for the tokens whose pasts have yet to be uncovered.

Contributors include artist David Shrigley, DJ, poet and writer Charlie Dark and poet and novelist Jackie Kay.

Date Friday 25th January 2013, 10:30 - Sunday 19th May 2013, 17:30
Location Foundling Museum
Contact [email protected]; 020 7841 3600
Nearest Tube Russell Square