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Saturday, 12 February 2011

threads of feeling

                                   I came across this book on Sue's blog.

When John Styles was researching his book about everyday fashion in the 18th century, The Dress of the People, he found that very little of the clothing of the poor people has survived. He was told about the Foundling Museum in London. It is the Museum of the Foundling Hospital, found in 1739, London's first home for abandoned children. The Foundling Hospital no longer exists, but its work is being carried on by the children's charity Coram, making it the oldest children's charity in Britain.

Thousands of babies were abandoned and left at the Foundling Hospital. The exhibition Threads of Feeling concentrates on the period 1740 - 1770. Although many of the babies were just left, with no care for their welfare, some of the mothers (most of them could not read and write) left with their children various little tokens of love, many of them small scraps of fabrics or ribbons, as in a hope that this would identify the child sometime in the future, should they be able to claim the child back, which rarely happened. The staff at the hospital kept these tokens, or a piece of child's clothing, attaching them to the child's registration form and these were kept as part of the hospital's ledgers.
With some 5,000 pieces, the ledgers have become the largest archives of 18th century textiles in this country, as many of the pieces came from the mother's dress or an adult clothing.

I lived in and around London for 25 years, but this is the first time I have learned about the Foundling Museum. Isn't this typical? Well, I have booked my coach ticket and I hope to see the exhibition before it's end on 6th March.

Thank you, Sue, for bringing it to our attention!

P.S. Anyone interested in buying the book and can't get it from Amazon (they are out of stock right now), I got mine from V&A Museum's shop on line.


  1. Radka- I do hope you have a lovely day, I wish I could get to this event. I think it has been quite a crowd puller. I will be interested to know how you feel after seeing what might seem a bit of a sad exhibition.

  2. This has blown me away Radka....such a gut wrenching thing all those poor mothers and babies....i would love to go too and really thinking about it as its quite near Great Ormond St Hospital which i know very well....very very interesting x

  3. Whoops sorry i forgot to ask is the book just as interesting?! x

  4. If you dont mind i think i will copy and paste this to my blog with a link to yours xx

  5. I read the article on Jensters page. It is so moving but thank you for this article.

  6. Hello Radka, what an interesting story. I certainly hope you make it to the exhibition, I know you will enjoy it. Thank you for mentioning it. I find it all fascinating, part of womens' history I suppose.

    On a different note, Radka, the header photo for your blog is so pretty, and seems to suit the background so well. I just adore it.

  7. What an interesting story--
    I hope you have a delightful trip and that you will have more to share with us when you return--Have fun--
    Hugs, Di

  8. How interesting! I find things like this so interesting? I love social history.


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