Explore the history of the Foundling Hospital in Kent with display and free talks at Quebec House

  • 29 February 2024

From 1 March, visitors to National Trust property Quebec House will be able to see a new artwork and join a free talk, as part of Coram’s programme, Voices Through Time: The Story of Care, made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Visitors to the National Trust property will have the opportunity to learn about the Foundling Hospital, established by Thomas Coram in 1739, as a home for babies whose mothers were unable to care for them. The property will display ‘A Folded Reality’, a narrative blanket created by care-experienced young people as an artistic response to Coram’s history, as part of the Voices Through Time: The Story of Care programme. The textile artwork was inspired by the experiences and routines of children and young people in the Foundling Hospital.

Visitors will also learn about the history of the Foundling Hospital’s branch in Westerham. As a result of Parliamentary funding, the Foundling Hospital was required to admit all babies brought to its door, almost 15,000 between 1756 and 1760. The Westerham Branch Hospital opened in 1759 at what is now another local National Trust property, Chartwell, formerly known as Wellstreet, to cope with this ever-increasing demand for its services.

The free talks will explore the daily lives of the 469 children who were cared for and educated at the Westerham Branch Hospital between 1760 and 1769, the story of Thomas Ellison, a Foundling Hospital governor, who owned both Quebec House and Chartwell at the time, and the local connections with Kent families.

Dr Carol Homden, CEO of Coram, said: “We are delighted to work with Quebec House to unveil the little-known history of the Foundling Hospital’s branch hospital in Kent and bring to life the world of these children in the early Georgian period. Visitors will also gain valuable insight into the lives of care-experienced young people today and how the history and experiences of children at the Foundling Hospital resonate with them.”

Freddie Mathews, Cultural Heritage Curator for Quebec House, says: “We are excited to work with Coram to peel back another layer of the history of Chartwell and Quebec House. As the childhood home of General James Wolfe, Quebec House will offer visitors the chance to discover more about the lives of these children in an authentic Georgian setting. We are also delighted to host ‘A Folded Reality’ by care-experienced young people who were inspired by the history of Coram and the untold stories of children in care stretching back through the centuries.”

Talks are free of charge and will take place at Quebec House on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays throughout March. Booking is advisable as spaces are limited.

Find out more and book tickets at coramstory.org.uk/explore/content/event/westerham-and-the-foundling-hospital-national-trust/