4 May 2010

Lionel Britton and the Foundling Hospital, Coram's Fields, Guilford Street, Bloomsbury: Literary London #22

Ed Glinert, in A Literary Guide to London (2000), mentions that Dickens publicized the work of the Foundling Hospital that once stood on Guilford Street in Household Words, and goes on to say that Harriet Beadle in Little Dorrit (1857) is known as 'Tattycoram' partly after an old nickname she had, partly after the place in which she was brought up.

When Lionel Britton - or rather, his protagonist Arthur Phelps - passed this way, it was still a hospital:

'Half-way down Guilford Street is the Foundling Hospital. That is for the love children. Thrown away because they were too expensive to keep, or because they were not proper, or because they came through lack of knowledge and were inconvenient. The bourgeoisie, whose social organisation has made it possible for the child and the mother to be together, built the stone walls and took it in. Do for cannon-fodder...'

Hunger and Love (1931), p. 412.



established in 1739 by Captain Thomas Corem were offered for sale as building land in 1926, when owing to changing social conditions, the old Hospital was sold and demolished.

After eight years of anxiety as to its fate, the site was eventually preserved for the use and welfare of the children of Central London by the generosity and vision of Harold, Viscount Rothermere, by the efforts of the Foundling Site Appeal Council, by the co-operation of the Governors of the Foundling Hospital and of the Education Committee of the London County Council, and by the enthusiasm of many thousands of donors, large and small, who contributed their money or their toil to the saving of these nine acres, henceforth to be known as CORAM'S FIELDS'.

So the land has now been turned into a park. Coram's Fields looked interesting to me, but I wasn't allowed to enter as I wasn't accompanied by a child. The mad side of political correctness?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's a park for children. If they let anyone in, then it is no longer a park for children, is it? It just becomes a park.