My friend Zell told me to check out The Foundling Museum while I'm in London, and today I took her advice.  By the way, Zell has a fantastic website called Anglophiles United, dedicated to all things British - you should check it out!

So this morning I walked to the museum.  It's an exhibit of tokens, clothing, and other items from the Foundling Hospital, Britain's first home for abandoned children.  The hospital, really a children's home, was founded in 1741 by sea captain Thomas Coram, and Handel was a loyal patron!  He performed THE MESSIAH in the hospital's chapel to raise money, and performed there many more times over the years before he died.  William Hogarth, the famous painter and satirist, was also a patron.  Some of his illustrations are exhibited at the museum, along with a true copy of THE MESSIAH that Handel bequeathed to the hospital!

But the most moving items are the tokens that some of the mothers left for their babies.  The hospital had limited space, so they instituted a lottery process whereby the mothers would go to the hospital on a certain Saturday to petition to have their children taken in, and they would draw a ball from a box.  White meant your child was accepted.  Red - maybe, pending further inquiries.  And black - your child was refused admittance, either because there was no more space or because your child had some kind of disease.  Many mothers left little tokens with their babies before they walked away forever.  And these are heartbreaking to look at - buttons, handmade trinkets cut from pieces of cloth, little bracelets.  Hard to imagine looking on your child for the last time before you hand them over to strangers.  What's more heartbreaking, though, is that the hospital never did give these tokens to the children.  They wanted to preserve the parents' anonymity.  So they sit now in this little glass case, with only strangers to look on them.

You can also sit and listen to the testimonies of people who grew up in the Foundling system.  Such varied experiences!  You can hear them online too!  Just click here.  And there's another wonderful thing the museum does.  They randomly pick 10 visitors each day, and at 2:30 those 10 people are given a cup made by artist Clare Twomey.  At the bottom of the mug is a good deed that you are requested to fulfill.  You can choose not to do the good deed, but you have to give the mug back.  If you do the good deed, you keep the mug.  I had to leave the museum before 2:30, so I wasn't able to participate, but I think it's an amazing idea!  And it turns out you can actually participate online!  Anyone from anywhere can do it, and you can also suggest a good deed.  They'll put your deed on a little cup and post it online.  So check it out!

After the museum I walked to the Curzon Mayfair Theater and saw DIAL M FOR MURDER.  In 3-D!  Hitchcock was once again ahead of his time and filmed the credits and a few shots of the movie in 3-D.  Such fun!  To see a classic on the big screen in a beautiful theater.  So far I've only been to these Curzon theaters - there's a chain of them here.  And they remind me of our Angelika in Manhattan.  Big, plush lobbies to sit in, and a snack bar.  The only thing that's been different so far is the POPCORN!  My friend Andre will appreciate this.  He can't live without a big bag when he goes to the movies.  :)  You can get your popcorn here salty or sweet, or MIXED!  Oh - my - gosh.  What we're missing in the states.  I got the mixed and it is deeeelicious.  I always get a small bag because I'm never able to finish my popcorn, but I gobbled this whole thing down.  What a treat!  And Sunday I'm going to see SOME LIKE IT HOT in Henry VIII's big back yard!  :)  They have movie screenings in the Hampton Court gardens.  I'm quite sure that will be a different experience!

No pics today, but tomorrow I'm off to see St. Paul's Cathedral.

07/27/2013 6:34am

Vicki, I'm glad you enjoyed the Foundling Museum (or maybe "appreciated" is the better word?) My reaction to the place was like yours: emotional. I thought they did a great job of curating the museum and helping visitors grasp some of the horrors of orphan-hood in Victorian times.

"Dial M for Murder" in 3-D, lol! You must have had a heck of an emotional day yesterday! Hope you had a pint to soothe the jangled nerves, lol!

07/27/2013 9:54am

lol... No, but I was soooo tired by the time I got "home." Felt like a zombie. Had to drag myself up to do laundry and write my blog for the day.

Felt so much better today. Saw St. Paul's Cathedral and walked over 500 steps up to the Golden Gallery above the dome! Yikes. Scary high. I can't BELIEVE I did it, but I did, and it was so worth it.

Thinking about you while I'm here!


Leave a Reply.