Fate, Hope & Charity

A poignant study of motherhood in the eighteenth-century and the sacrifices made by women unable to care for their children.

Copper token, 1759 © Foundling Museum

Copper token, 1759

When impoverished mothers put their babies into the care of the Foundling Hospital in the eighteenth-century, they also left behind small, everyday tokens that would identify the child should the mother ever return. These little trinkets are now on display and offer a heartbreaking account of the tiny tragedies of life in Georgian England. Bits of jewellery, a playing card, a thimble and buttons were all that linked a child to its mother and each object on show offers a tender account of the people involved.

Contemporary artists, writers and musicians have been commissioned to make work in response to the museum’s collection, revealing some of the poignant histories of these abandoned babies.

Don't miss

The tragic tale of Margaret Larney, whose conviction at the Old Bailey for high treason after being caught filing a sovereign led to her infant son being taken to the Foundling Hospital after she was executed. 

Also, commissions by the artist David Shrigley, known for his tragicomic missives on the state of the world. Poems by hip hop artist Charlie Dark and writings by Scottish novelist Jackie Kay.

Venue details

The Foundling Museum 40 Brunswick Square London WC1N 1AZ 020 7841 3600 www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk

Entry details

Free entry with National Art Pass (standard entry charge is £7.50)


Tue – Sat, 10am – 5pm
Sun, 11am – 5pm

Closed 5 Jun, 24 – 26 Dec

Book online: www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk

or call: 020 7841 3600