Fate, Hope & Charity

foundling museum

Looking across Brunswick Square to the Foundling Museum, a memorial to the Foundling Hospital which was founded in 1741 by Thomas Coram to provide hospitality for London’s deserted children. Its patrons included Handel, Hogarth, Reynolds and Gainsborough. The museum’s current exhibition is Fate, Hope & Charity, a display of tokens left with abandoned babies.

inscribed copper token

paper star token with decorations

fish-shaped gambling token

rebus token

red paper heart with embroidery

notched Irish half penny token

hazelnut shell

William III silver sixpence token

padlock token

Ann Higs enamel token

coral necklace with silver coin

Brass medalet token

child's ring token

seal token

foundling tokens

Tokens arranged in display cases, each token a parent’s hope that one day they would return to claim their child. Upon admission each child’s details were recorded on a docket which was then used to wrap their token. In the 19th century many of these packets were opened and the tokens put on display. But unfortunately, since docket and token became separated, this often broke the link between token and child. This exhibition attempts to re-establish the link between token and foundling and to tell some of their poignant and heartbreaking stories – Fate, Hope & Charity.

Also visit Coram’s Fields but not without a child.

Frames of reference
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3 Responses to Fate, Hope & Charity

  1. One of the most deeply moving experiences in the whole of London.

  2. David Attwooll says:

    There’s a fine poetry collection inspired by these, and sold in support of the museum – Tokens For The Foundlings

  3. I know what I’m doing on my next trip. Thanks.

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