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The Foundling Museum

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An early scene in this book takes place in the Foundling Hospital. The Foundling Hospital was founded by Captain Thomas Coram. He is immortalized in a statue in front of the Foundling Museum.

The scene was inspired by memetoes left by mothers and displayed in the London Foundling Museum.

The Foundling Hospital accepted only new born babies from unwed mothers of “good character.” The children would never grow up to see their mother again, but the mothers were, at one time, encouraged to leave small tokens of love and remembrance for their babies.

There’s an amazing range – from a penny with a hole drilled in it, to a nut, embroidered tokens, rings, letters, all kinds of thing. It’s a very moving sight.

Sadly, the children never saw these tokens. They were kept purely for identification purposes, in case the mother changed her mind some time later and returned for the child.

The tokens, some of which are on display in the London Foundling Museum today, show the mothers came from a range of background — some well educated, others poor and illiterate. It’s a heartbreaking display.

There is an excellent article with more pictures here.