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I am a quilter living in Woodbridge, Suffolk who has made quilts since I was a teenager. I also ring bells! Both are great British traditions....I will try to feature some of my antique Welsh and Durham quilts, the quilts I make myself, my quilting activities and also some of my bellringing achievements. Plus as many photos as I can manage. NB: Double click on the photos to see greater detail, then use back button to return to the main page.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Visit to the Foundling Museum.

On Sunday, it was once again off to the train station in Ipswich, this time to go to London and meet daughter Sophie and her partner Paul for lunch. We had a nice pub lunch (prices much higher in London than in Suffolk!)

After lunch, Sophie and I went to the Foundling Museum. The Foundling Hospital was founded in 1739 by Thomas Coram, who was shocked at the great number of abandoned ("exposed") babies he saw. Demand to take in infants was so great that a lottery system had to be instituted. The infants, if admitted (and many weren't) went to wet nurses, then when old enough, were returned to the hospital where they received food, training and medical care. Child mortality was high, but those that survived left to go into service or be apprenticed.

The interest today is that the hospital archives are extensive, as each infant was recorded in some detail. Often, an identifier (a token) was left with the infant in the hope that the infant might be reclaimed one day. These tokens were varied, but many are fabric items, which comprise the best collection of everyday fabrics extant.

 The hospital was associated with many famous patrons, including Handel.The current exhibition is about the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, an early amusement park which featured promenades, dining (at inflated prices) and music - so not much change there, then.

 I also was able to buy two books - one on the tokens....

The other a catalogue of the Threads of Feeling Exhibition. This booklet shows many of the fabric tokens and is very interesting to read. The cover shows a red wool heart, a blue silk ribbon and a linen diaper cap, left with Foundling 10563 a girl admitted 22 November 1758.

Sadly, of the 18500  babies admitted to the hospital by 1800, only 152 were ever reclaimed by a parent.

 The present building dates from 1937 when the original building was demolished and the hospital moved to Berkhamstead. This ornate room was preserved and rebuilt. Sophie is examining a replica foundling uniform - there are many sets of dresses for the young visitors to try on.

 Tokens  left - coins or badges.

More tokens - these are larger ones in the form of necklaces and brooches.

A very interesting small museum with an excellent tea room, near to Russell Square. There was a concert going on with recorders, viola de gamba and harpsichord.

Afterwards, Sophie wanted to buy an 80's dress for a hen party (what about my closet, you might ask??) Anyhow, we set off for Brick Lane which has a huge market and several retro clothes stores. We went into "Beyond" which was large and very crowded. The clothing looked as if it had been bulk bought from Thrift shops in the USA as almost all had American tags in them. Luckily Sophie found a beautiful "prom" dress that fit wonderfully - with 15 minutes to spare before closing time - the best news was that there was a 50% sale, so the dress did not cost £24 but only £12. Success!!


  1. How lucky to see that museum! I got Threads of Feeling from the UK amazon site (am in U.S.) and just love it.

  2. Thanks so much for posting. i was following 'threads of feeling' on facebook for awhile - but had no idea they had several books in print.