The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 18 Bloomsbury and Districts to the North

Foundling Hospital

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From Great Ormond St. Lamb's Conduit St. leads north to Guilford Street, in which stands the building (by Theodore Jacobsen; 1742) of the FOUNDLING HOSPITAL, long one of the most interesting institutions in London. The statue of Coram at the entrance is by Calder Marshall (1852). The site, however, has been sold. In June 1926 the quaintly attired children (circa 600) were transferred to Redhill, in Surrey, and the building, though for the present it retains its interesting paintings and mementoes, is closed to the public. The hospital was founded in Hatton Garden in 1739 by Captain Thomas Coram (1666-1751), a merchant sea-captain, for 'exposed and deserted young children,' but the original unconditional reception of children led to abuses, and in 1760 admission was restricted to the illegitimate children of women of good previous character, who have been deserted by the father. Hogarth and Handel took a great interest in the hospital. The former painted several pictures for it and induced other artists to do the same. The latter conducted concerts on its behalf, presented the organ to its chapel, and bequeathed to it a manuscript copy of his 'Messiah.' Charles Dickens had a pew in the gallery of the chapel, and readers of 'Little Dorrit' will remember that Tattycoram was a 'Foundling.' The most interesting of the pictures are the March to Finchley, Moses before Pharaoh's Daughter, and Portrait of Captain Coram, by Hogarth; a cartoon by Raphael, representing the Massacre of the Innocents; eight views of hospitals, by Gainsborough, Wilson, and others; and a portrait of Handel by Kneller. In the Picture Gallery are glass-cases containing 'tokens' of the most miscellaneous description deposited along with the children before the new regulation of 1760 for future identification or for a defence in case of charges of childmurder. Other cases contain interesting autographs and manuscripts.