The Fallen Woman

Caro Howell at The Foundling Museum, London


£25,417 raised
180 funders

Funded 30 July 2015

0% funded

110% funded

The Foundling Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, established in 1739 to care for babies at risk of abandonment. In the 18th century, the foundlings' mothers were guaranteed anonymity and their experiences were poorly recorded, so their voices are frustratingly absent in the museum. However, in the 1830s the admissions policy changed; in order to be admitted, babies had to be illegitimate and the mother previously respectable – women had to give detailed written explanations of their situation. We are currently researching these extraordinary records in our archives.

We want to bring these hidden stories to life for the first time in our autumn exhibition, The Fallen Woman (25 September 2015 to 3 January 2016). By presenting these real women’s lives alongside fictional images of 'fallen women' from the period – through paintings, newspaper illustrations and stereoscopes – we will reveal how art and popular culture mythologised the idea of the ‘fallen woman’ while also bringing to life the individual testimonies of real mothers, some who managed to get their babies into the Hospital and the many more who didn’t.

Please help us raise the money so that we can give these women a voice and shed new light on this previously unexplored area of our archives. In return for your donation, you will receive one of a number of wonderful rewards. These include postcards, limited-edition prints by Richard Wentworth and tote bags inspired by Lemn Sissay's Foundling mural, as well as the chance to dine with our director in the museum’s splendid Court Room, as a thank you for your support.

A big thank you to all our donors so far

Many thanks to everyone who has donated to 'The Fallen Woman' so far – you have enabled us to reach 12% of our fundraising target after week one... Read more

Interview: Professor Lynda Nead

We chat to curator Professor Lynda Nead about our forthcoming exhibition, The Fallen Woman, which we're crowdfunding – the exhibition explores the Victorian idea of the ‘fallen woman’ as mythologised by art, and as experienced by women applying to leave their babies at the Foundling Hospital... Read more

The history of the locket

We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated to our campaign so far and are delighted that so many of you have chosen the locket as your reward... Read more

Two exciting artworks coming to The Fallen Woman

We're excited to announce that we have secured two international loans for The Fallen Woman – works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Frederick Walker... Read more

Interview: Steve Lewinson, musician

Find out more about a specially commissioned sound installation – featuring actress Maxine Peake (pictured) – which will bring to life the voices of the Foundling Hospital mothers... Read more

Art is happening!

Thank you to all of our funders, who have helped us raise an incredible £24,957 towards our autumn exhibition, The Fallen Woman... Read more

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who donated to The Fallen Woman’s Art Happens campaign... Read more

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With thanks to...

Rachel Atkinson

Anne Burns

Carolyn Steen

Carolyn Young

Sophie Carp

Patricia Verity

Maria Laughlin

Deirdre Whelan

Nigel Cudlipp

Pamela Scott

J Drysdale

James Buckley

Nick Castell

Shaun Meacock

Madeleine Lewis

Linda Kemp

Michele Cohen

Louise Duckling

Fiona Charman

Diana Mitchell

Ben Garcia

Caroline Butler

Charlotte Stevenson

Marianne Rance

Ros Edsberg

Susan Fernyhough

Rosie Miles

Michaela Jones

Penny Baylis

Alexandra Pygall

Kay Jones

Anna Brunton

Laura Babka

Jane Duffen

Helen Evans

Helen Blakeman

Caro Howell

Pauline Larder

Cara Cooney

Richard Allan

Bairbre Meade

Amy Tabarly

Jane Braithwaite

S Brickell

Hannah Squire

Linda Perriton

Andrew King

Miranda Stearn

Marion Durnin

Helen Meller

Elizabeth Elmore

James Close

Helen Perkins

Claire Parker









Elizabeth Baxter

Alexandra Owen

Rosemary Ritchie

Edward Morgan

Peter Scott

Laura Parker

Judith Parish

Henry Grainger

Maggie Johnston

Grania Farrow

Diane Ball

Sheila Kennard

Rachel Carroll

Wendy Wright

Celia Renshaw

Matthew Lechtzier

Olivia Parker

Beryl Warman

Carol Ward

Andrew Procter

Cintia Bailey

Susan Loppert

Kathryn Serati-Shirazi

Frank Woodgate

Anne Craven








Christopher Larner

Esme Loukota

Christopher Patey

Christopher Devereux

Marion Mccrindle

Lindsey Dear

Benedicte Fjeld

Tracey Hill

Edwin Marsden

Catherine Rayner

Maureen Marlowe

Christine Riding

Catherine Fowler

Nicole Slayton

Stephanie Chapman

Sue Heiser

Miranda Fagandini

Sophie Varian Nuttall

Carol Walsh-Knutson

Donna Price

Sarah Gray

Celeste Fenichel

Ann-Marie Campbell




Catherine Yates

Angela Thomas

Loraine Martin

Jenny Collins

Andrew Mcinnes

Janette Bright

Audrey Mandela

Sandra Cooper

Tuz Morrison

Ian Wellings

Alice Violett

Elizabeth Holt

Julia Loukota

Theresa Webster

Anna Parisi

Marie De Vere

James Dale

Julie Peakman

Jason Steen

Ishani O'Connor

S Burton

Sue Jordan

Jacqueline Riding

Camilla Adeane

Jennifer Powell





Janet Worman


Ruth Chase

Mark Windisch

Rose Evans

Vicki Barrass

Margaret Tongue

C Garces

Sharon Jones

Kathy Adler




Amy Foulds

Louise Rice

Helen Janecek

Alison Duke

Claire Masset

John Morton Morris

Haydon Powell













22 June 2015 - 16:22

I have donated a small amount (as I can afford) to this fund as it is dear to my heart. I had to give up a baby boy to adoption in 1972. I feel I have some affinity with these women.

Caro, London

22 June 2015 - 16:53

Dear Ali, thank you so much for sharing your very touching story. Every penny counts so thank you. We do hope you will be able to come and visit the Museum and exhibition.

Edward, LONDON

22 June 2015 - 17:26

Great museum, fantastic cause.


23 June 2015 - 11:11

The Foundling Museum was a profoundly moving place, allowing me to understand my place in history as a single parent. It is easier to engage with issues that have trickled down the generations. The Museum helps me see how many of today's attitudes have deep roots. I am grateful for the opportunity to keep my child, but would like to see remaining stigma obliterated. I think the stories must be told and I applaud you for your work. Wish I could contribute more.

Caro, London

23 June 2015 - 17:57

Dear Angela, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. All donations of any size are very much appreciated and will help us let these women’s voices be heard, so thank you very much for your support.


24 June 2015 - 09:56

My mother was made to give her first child up for adoption in the 1930s and carried her 'secret and shame' for almost forty years. Thankfully society has changed and no longer blames the mother or stigmatises her child.


27 June 2015 - 10:43

Such a wonderful project. This is very dear to me as not only did I grow up around the corner from the museum and play in Coram's Fields as a child, but I have also recently discovered a foundling in my family tree, albeit from another country. I hope that the target is reached and very much look forward to seeing this.

Caro, London

20 July 2015 - 12:27

Thank you to everyone who has left messages of support and shared their personal stories. The Foundling is home to so many stories of empathy and emotional courage, and we feel very privileged when people add to them with their own. Caro Howell, Director.

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