Foundling Hospital



The London Foundling Hospital was founded by Thomas Coram and opened its doors to children in 1741. Initially, it accommodated the babies in temporary premises in Hatton Garden while a hospital was built in nearby Lambs Conduit.


At first babies under two months only were accepted, with them being brought to the Hospital doors and admitted on 'no questions asked' basis. As space and finance was limited, many had to be turned away.


Those babies taken in were sent out to wet nurses in the country - mostly in the home counties - until they were old enough to come back to the Hospital in London and be educated and prepared for starting apprenticeships.


From 1756, there was a disastrous experiment of admitting everyone, a venture funded by the Government. The huge cost of this and a high mortality rate meant this practice was stopped after a few years and the Hospital spent the next ten years only really able to cope with the children who had been brought in during that time and new intakes were low in number.


From 1801, the Hospital developed admissions policies which were more focused, fairer and enabled the Hospital to control numbers,


In 1935, the Hospital moved again to Berkhamstead. This was short-lived, however, as, after the Second World War, the focus shifted from large-scale institutional care for children to fostering and smaller homes and the Hospital closed down as a residential care provider. The buildings in Berkhamstead were used by Ashlyns School.


We are currently working on a project looking at Thomas Coram's Foundling Hospital and would love to hear from you if you have memories of, connections to the Hospital. Please leave any comments or questions below. Many thanks!




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