Foundling Museum Visit
The Master has started his year’s social programme with a wonderful and at times humbling visit to the Foundling Museum in Brunswick Square, formerly a hospital and home to thousands of children forced to be given up by their mothers.
The Foundling Hospital was established by the incredibly forward thinking Thomas Coram in 1739 and is home to many amazing stories of heartbreak, hope, generosity, loss, resilience and imagination stretching over two centuries. The main hospital was relocated to Berkhampsted and Brunswick Square serves as the London HQ and Museum.
The artist William Hogarth, who graphically depicted some of the scenes of London life at that time, and the composer Frideric Handel were instrumental in helping Coram establish the Hospital and also in making it one of London’s most fashionable venues. Leading artists of the day were encouraged to donate work, establishing the UK’s first public art gallery. Handel even donated an organ and conducted annual benefit concerts of Messiah in the Hospital’s chapel. Their creative generosity set the template for the ways in which the arts can support philanthropy.
After one of the guides presented the history of the museum, we were treated to beautiful performance of some of Handel’s pieces by Jonatan Bougt on a theorbo, a contemporary string instrument of the period. Jonatan has won many prizes and performed Handel worldwide. Our thanks to our Clerk, Adrian, who made the arrangements.
The day concluded with a splendid three-course lunch in the Court Room, prepared and served by the museums own catering staff. The room is decorated with plasterwork and paintings saved from the original hospital building that no longer exists.