News from the OCA


     We regret to announce the death of Francis Butterworth

Posted 7th April 2015

It is with regret we report the death of Bert Bunt who died on 2nd April 2015.  Bert was a staunch supporter of former pupils of the Foundling Hospital and served on the OCA committee.
A Funeral Service will be held at Tunbridge Wells Crematorium on Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 10.45am. Former pupil's and members of the OCA are welcome.  At Bert's request; no flowers or black to be worn.

Posted 2nd February 2014

It is with regret we report the death of Margaret Neate who died on 20th January 2014.
A Funeral Service will be held at 2pm on Monday 10th February in St Andrews Church, Holborn followed by a cremation at the West London Crematorium, Harrow Road, London, W10 4RA at 3.45pm.
Former pupils, OCA members and their families will be most welcome to attend


Posted 30th August 2013

Sadly we report the death of Derek Wedgwood.  Derek died yesterday evening 29th August. Derek was a committee member for more 50 years and will be remembered for his rather unique view on life and the world around him.

Posted 16th August 2013

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has reported mainly in favour of those who are unhappy with the way Coram have   been acting.  The commission have said it is important that arrangements are put in place to ensure the effective administration of the Foundling    Museum and working relationship with Coram. The first stage of this is to ensure the appointment of independent trustees of requisite calibre, independence and experience to replace those who have been removed. The commission will then seek to explore further with Coram and the new trustees the administrative framework which is in the best interests of the charity.    

Posted  15th August 2013                      


Many of us are aware of the dispute between Coram and the Foundling Museum, and will have seen letters to the press and press comment. These include a number of statements from Coram and supporters of the Foundling Museum giving differing views.

The officers of the OCA are trying to arrange a meeting with Coram to confirm that the Foundling Museum, its unique collection and No 40 remains in safe hands.

If you would like to express your views on the attached please send them to the John Caldicott, Secretary of the OCA either by email or letter.


Below is the original letter sent to the Times Newspaper and the Coram response


Letter sent by the undersigned

Plea to safeguard Foundling picturesThe Foundling Museum should be allowed to continue to flourish as it has in recent years, and the collection should be properly protected


Sir, We are increasingly concerned about the future of the Foundling Museum. Much of its nationally significant collection, which includes works donated by Hogarth, Reynolds and Gainsborough, is owned by the childcare charity Coram. As Coram’s charitable objectives do not include caring for art, a separate charity — the Foundling Museum — was set up in 2002 to ensure the future of the collection for the nation.

The plan was for the museum to purchase the collection from Coram over time. Many arts funding bodies have since donated to help the Foundling to achieve this. However, Coram has recently changed the museum’s articles, dismissed its independent trustees and consolidated its accounts into its own, casting doubt over its commitment to the plan.

These actions give much cause for concern. The museum has flourished in recent years, both in telling the story of Thomas Coram and the foundling children, and as an important art and heritage museum on the wider cultural scene.

We call upon the Attorney-General and Charity Commissioners to review recent events, and upon Coram to abide by any recommendations that they may make. It is vital that the collection should be properly protected in perpetuity and that the museum be allowed to continue as a thriving, independent organisation, as originally envisaged.

Dr Stephen Deuchar, Director, Art Fund; Sir Paul Ruddock, Chair, V&A; Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate; Sir Vernon Ellis, Chair, British Council; Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery; Christopher Le Brun, President, Royal Academy of Arts; Dr Charles Saumarez Smith, CEO, Royal Academy of Arts; Professor Christopher Brown, Director, Ashmolean Museum; Michael Craig-Martin, Artist; Alison Myners, Chair, ICA; Julia Peyton Jones, Director, Serpentine Gallery

The Charity Commission


The Charity Commission has met with the dismissed trustees of the Foundling Museum, and the trustees of the Musuem's founder the Thomas Coram Foundation, to discuss “current difficulties”, believed to be a row over the alleged “hostile takeover” by Coram of the Foundling Museum.

In June, The Guardian revealed that the Attorney General had written to children’s charity Coram after it sacked the Foundling Museum’s six trustees.

Trustee and Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller told The Guardian at the time that his dismissal felt like a “hostile takeover of a well-run organisation”.

The Foundling Museum holds a celebrated body of art which was assembled by the trustees of Coram Hospital, set up in the 18th century by City merchant, Thomas Coram, to raise and educate homeless children.

The Coram Hospital became the Coram charity, which set up the Foundling Museum in 2001 to protect the artworks collected throughout its history.

The imaginative solution, brokered then by the Attorney General, was for the Foundling Museum to raise money to buy the art from Coram, and house it. It has now bought much of the Coram collection, including paying £4m for Hogarth’s 'The March of the Guards to Finchley'.

Coram describes the Foundling Museum as being one of several linked charities in the Coram group. It is its sole member, akin to sole shareholder.

In June, the Attorney General wrote to the trustees of Coram, concerning the sacking of the Foundling Museum’s six trustees. The Guardian reported that, last year, without the knowledge of the Foundling’s board or the Attorney General, Coram changed the Museum’s articles and memoranda, allowing it to sack Foundling trustees. It also consolidated the Foundling’s accounts into its own.

Many high-profile figures in the art world slammed Coram’s actions. Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, told The Guardian the sackings were “incomprehensible” and said he was worried about the future of the museum, while Stephen Deuchar, chief executive of the Art Fund, said he was “deeply concerned”.

The Attorney General has passed the matter to the Charity Commission, which has now met with the trustees of Coram and the dismissed trustees of the Foundling Museum.

A spokeswoman said: “The Commission is aware of current difficulties which exist between the Thomas Coram Foundation and the Foundling Museum and we are keen to see these resolved in the best interests of both charities. We have met with the representatives of the Foundation and with the dismissed trustees to enable us to understand these difficulties better and have been assessing a number of key issues which deal with the relationship between the Foundation and the Museum.

"We are treating this as a matter of priority and will shortly be writing to those involved setting out our provisional views on these issues in the hope that this clarity will enable a satisfactory way forward to be found.”

A spokeswoman for Coram said: “The Museum is one of several charities in the Coram group, working together to achieve common aims. Some former Museum Trustees felt things should be done differently and their opinions were, in view of professional advice to the Coram board, considered incompatible with the charity’s Charter. The Charity Commission is aware of this background. 

"The Coram collection of historic works of art will be maintained and protected and is on display at the Foundling Museum to be enjoyed by all.  Both organisations look forward to continuing their linked purposes to advance Coram’s work for children today.”

 The Late Mary Cracknell (Bessie Griggs)


We regret to announce the death of Mary Cracknell (Bessie Griggs) who died on 4th August 2013.                     

The funeral is on Monday 19th August 2013 at 12.15pm in the Parndon Wood Cremortorium, Parndon Wood Road, Harlow, CM19 4SF.


The Late Mr Francis Butterworth

We regret to announce the death of Francis Butterworth who died on Thursday 19th January 2012. The funeral is on Sat 4 February at East Hamstead Crematorium  


The Last Foundling by Tom H MacKenzie

Survivors of childcare are the exception. We expect them to be losers. Today 70% are passing through the criminal justice system. A significant proportion pad out the nations prisons. Yet Tommy is a survivor of childcare. His story is not just one of survival but of triumphant success, after a rollar-coaster of ups and downs. It was in 1739 that Britain's first childcare provider, the Foundling Hospital, led by its almost saintly founder, Captain Thomas Coram, began his pioneering work. Exactly two centuries later, to the year, Tommy passed into its care as a weeks old baby, in its last intake of institutionalised children. His particular misfortune was to be born to a mother who was not married. The incredible breadth of experiences that led Tommy on his odyssey can surely have few parallels. His story mixes pathos with drama; tragedy with success; humour with terrible risks. At times it will make you cry. Even the political and historic backdrop of the times described are told with acute insight. Finally, three powerful love stories crown this extraordinary work.

About the Author
TOM MACKENZIE, (born London, 1939) grew up in the Foundling Hospital. His class was the hospital s very last after more than two hundred years of institutionalised childcare. After a spell in the army he became active in business and continues in a hands-on role to this day. He enjoys foreign travel and penning poetry. To his delight one of his favourites is on display in the Battle of Britain Museum. A sports enthusiast he has enjoyed skiing, scuba diving, tennis, cycling and has had his own hang-glider. He has also opened several health clubs as well as one of the country s top ski centres. Nowadays he enjoys a less active life walking three miles a day.Tom has been married four times (two unhappy; two happy; a happy one cut short by bereavement). He has four children.

Book by Gordon Aspey

Gordon Aspey, a former pupil, is launching a book about his memoirs at the Foundling Hospital.  The launch will be in the Foundling Museum on Tuesday 21st September at 2pm.  All former pupils of the Foundling Hospital, members of the OCA, friends and family are very welcome.

All proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Foundling Museum.


    Archive News

It is with sadness that we report the death of Miss Dorothy Baulch

Miss Dorothy Baulch was Senior Social Worker with the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children for about  15years  until her retirement in 1983.  Many of the former pupils will remember Dorothy as the person who very professionally and with great understanding gave them the details of the circumstances of the their admittance to the Foundling Hospital.  Dorothy was a member of the OCA and kept in touch with many of us.


12th April 2007 London's forgotten Children by Gillian Pugh (former Chief Executive - Coram Family)

Gillian Pugh, former Chief Excecutive of Coram Family, has just had the above book published.  It is a fascinating account of the history of the Foundling Hospital and charts the rise of what is described as this "incredible institution" from its conception to the present day. It also examines the attitude towards foundlings as illigitimate children over the years.  The book will be available from the Foundling Museum on Coram Day, or it can be ordered from Tempus Publishing Ltd, The Mill, Brimscombe Port, Gloucestershire, GL5 2QG. Price £9.99 each.


7th October 2006 - Resignation of Chief Executive of Coram Family

We are sad hear of the resignation of Honor Rhodes.  Honor joined Coram Family approximately 12 months ago and from the moment she arrived she proved to be a very active supporter of the OCA.  Those who attended Coram Day this year can only have been impressed in the way she joined in the organisation of the day. 

The Trustees of Coram Family have announced the appointment of John Hart as Interim Chief Executive.  They have also appointed Edward Lord as Interim Director of Fundraising, Marketing & PR following the departure of Steve Hudd last month.

Further information can be seen on the Coram Family web site.


12th September 2003 - A New Book by a Former Pupil of the Foundling Hospital

Mr Edmund Govan, a former pupil of the Foundling Hospital, together with his wife have written a book about their lifetime experience.

Copies, priced at £12.50 may be obtained from the OCA Secretary, or Mrs Lorna Zumpe at Coram Family.


8th February 2003 - Handel Birthday Concert

The Handel Birthday Concert will be held on Wednesday 26th February at 7.30pm in the Royal festival Hall. This year The Bach Choir are performing The Foundling Hospital Anthem, Music for the Royal Fireworks and other works.

It is hoped that there will be a strong contingent of former pupils from the Foundling Hospital. If you would like to be at this concert you should apply for tickets ASAP.

To obtain tickets you may either go on-line at or telephone 0207 960 4242 between 9am and 8pm Monday to Sunday.

If you would like to know more about the concert please contact the OCA Secretary at


4th February 2003 - Italian Peasant Boy part 2

The Italian Peasant Boy statue has now been cleaned and has been restored to its former glory. The OCA were pleased to finance the cleaning and are very satisfied with the result.

Our thanks go to Rhian Harris, Director and Curator of the Foundling Museum, and her staff for their assistance in the project.




4th February 2003 - Rosa Branson's Painting - 'History of Coram Family'

In the tradition of Hogarth and Handel, an artist will today present a work to benefit the Coram Family, successor to the foundling hospital charity set by Captain Coram more than 250 years ago.

In the middle of the 18th century Thomas Coram began the tradition of artists aiding charitable causes when he recruited the help of the most famous artist of the age and greatest composer. Hogarth sold lottery tickets for his painting March of the Guards, giving a handful to Coram's hospital for orphans who, in the way of lotteries those days defied the odds and won; Handel gave live performances of his Messiah every Christmas.

This time the benevolent artist is Rosa Branson, in her 70th year and a non-stop painter for 53 of them, who paints large canvases free for charities as fundraising levers. "Of course I still paint for money, but this takes up a lot of time now - I've had so much fun painting all my life, it's a way of giving something back."

A portrait painter by trade, she trained at Camberwell School of Art to be taught by Stanley Spencer's brother,
Gilbert, who told her bluntly "women can't paint". Nevertheless, she progressed to the Slade, where Sir William Coldstream advised her not to copy the pictures in the National Gallery. "I was taught to paint like Cezanne, but I thought 'Why should I paint the same as an ill-tempered old Frenchman when there are these lovely pictures to instruct me?'" she says.

This new canvas, 8ft by 5ft, shows the history of the Coram Family, formerly the Coram Foundation. How the wealthy merchant sea captain stumbled over an abandoned infant in the street and discovered that there was no welfare service to care for children whose mothers could not provide for them; how he built the Foundling Hospital and recruited the help of the age's cultural superstars: later in the century Gainsborough, Hayman, Ramsay, Reynolds and Rysbrack all gave works to support the hospital. The figures in the top left corner show the destitute mothers hoping to give their children a chance in life by taking wooden balls from a velvet bag: those who drew white had a place, those who picked black had not and were "blackballed".

But the painting brings the Coram story up to date, showing its changing role since the hospital itself was demolished in the 1930s. It is now a support charity helping vulnerable children and young people. There are 196 portraits in the canvas, each one of a neighbour, a friend's children or grandchildren.

The last remaining vestige of the Foundling Hospital in Bloomsbury is the building which now houses the Foundling Museum, separated from the Coram Family after a legal challenge last year, when the Attorney-General ruled that it was contrary to the charity s purpose to own such valuable paintings. They are currently being bought by the museum, with the seminal Hogarth having been acquired this summer for £4 million with the help of the Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

Rosa Branson's picture will also be used to raise funding for the museum and will go to the Tate with the other pictures it holds for temporary safekeeping.

The museum itself closed in September for a £6 million refurbishment and will reopen in spring 2004.

On the first floor the buildings' Fine Rooms will have been refurbished to display once more the great paintings, as well as some of the more poignant items it possesses, such as the objects that foundlings brought with them as keepsakes. They include coins, crucifixes, buttons scratched with their names, poems, scraps of ribbon, rings, thimbles, and some of the letters that mothers left with their babies as they handed them over for ever.

On the second floor will be a study centre and on the level above, the Gerald Cook Handel Collection, the biggest archive of Handel documents and memorabilia in the world, which has been assigned to the museum under the acceptance-in-lieu of inheritance tax scheme, following the death of the banker who created it. Complementing the collection will be the fine copy of the Messiah manuscript which Handel left to the Foundling Hospital in a codicil to his will (as well as the will itself) and the keyboard on which he composed the piece, which he also gave to the Coram hospital.

Rosa Branson's gift will not be going into the museum. However, its final home will be in the Coram Family's new headquarters - built next to the museum in Brunswick Square.

Article by Simon Talt published in The Times Newspaper
October 2002

4th February 2003 - Address given by Professor Brian Allen (March of the Guards to Finchley)

Text of an address given by Professor Brian Allen, Chairman of the National Art Collections Fund, Director of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and a Trustee of the Foundling Museum, at the Press Conference held on Thursday 13 June 2002 to announce the acquisition of Hogarth's `March of the Guards to Finchley'

The Foundling Museum is exceptionally fortunate to possess, among many important works of art, three splendid paintings by William Hogarth, who was a founding Governor of the Foundling Hospital, which as I am sure you all know, stood a few yards adjacent to this site until its demolition in 1926.

Although it might be fair to say that Hogarth's magisterial and wonderfully humane portrait of the hospital's founder Captain Thomas Coram - currently of course on loan to Tate Britain but seen in this room in the form of a large colour reproduction - is the most celebrated icon in the collection, I firmly believe that not only is the March of the Guards to Finchley the greatest single work of art in this collection, but it is also one of the artist's most remarkable and characteristic pictures.

Even if you have visited the new displays at Tate Britain since their opening last October, you may not be aware that the four greatest works from the Foundling Museum's collection are the focal points in the room that highlights the `Age of Hogarth'. Alongside Captain Coram and the March of the Guards stand the superb portrait of the great physician Dr Richard Mead by Allan Ramsay as well as Roubiliac's powerful terracotta bust of another of the Foundling Hospital's great supporters, George Frederick Handel.

Those works of art that form the core of this collection were of course given to the Hospital, then and still in its successor Coram Family, a private charity, as a means of attracting visitors, that is to say potential benefactors, to the Hospital. As such London's first orphanage for abandoned illegitimate children became the one place in England where you could see a representative cross-section of high quality works by the leading artists of mid-eighteenth century London. All of this happened a generation before the founding of the Royal Academy in 1768.

But let us return to the March of the Guards. Curiously, this was not a picture that Hogarth painted specifically for the Foundling Hospital. In was in fact painted, like almost all of Hogarth's subject pictures, with a view to exploiting the market for a popular print. But of course there was always the matter of finding a home for the actual picture itself. In Hogarth's case, his almost paranoid dislike of picture dealers, whom he felt exploited the creative talents of artists, led him to prevent, as far as he possibly could, his pictures falling into the dealers' hands.

In the case of our picture, Hogarth organised a lottery to dispose of it and sold 1843 of the 2000 tickets he produced. The remaining 157 tickets were then given to the Foundling Hospital and, surprise, surprise, the hospital was in possession of the winning ticket (no 1941) when the draw was held on 30 April 1750.

This kind of picture, as a genre, was effectively an invention of Hogarth's - what he called a `Modern Comic' history painting. It was a characteristically pragmatic solution to the prevailing dilemma of patronage in England, where those who wrote about the visual arts invariably promoted the significance of history painting above lesser genres like portraiture and landscape, primarily because, in the words of the most influential theorist of Hogarth's time, Jonathan Richardson, only history painting could "excite noble sentiments" and stretch the intellectual capacity of both artist and viewer. But in truth most Britons did not want high-minded stoic episodes from Greek and Roman history on their drawing room walls and in Protestant England religious art was always somewhat suspect. Hogarth's solution was to appeal directly to his by now long-established, admiring public with scenes like this based on more-or-less contemporary events. In this instance, the historical backdrop is the recently failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1745.

The scene in Hogarth's painting is set on the Tottenham Court turnpike in September 1745, at the intersection of the Hampstead and Euston roads, that is to say roughly where Warren Street tube station now stands. At that time, the King's Head Public House and the Adam and Eve Inn stood on the east and west sides of this intersection and in the distance, the village of Highgate was just visible. The English guards, recently sent to the Low Countries and Germany, had been recalled by the invasion of Scotland by the young Pretender's son, Bonnie Prince Charlie. The guards marched through London and gathered just to the north of it, to march on to Finchley.

Hogarth depicts the soldiers marching in fact every way except toward the enemy and they are implicitly contrasted with the ordered ranks of the soldiers in the distance. Those in the foreground are beset with human problems of the kind that intrigued Hogarth: pregnant women, prostitutes, venereal disease, drunkenness, theft and religious division. Adam and Eve are on one side, as a reminder of our fallen state, and King Charles II is seen on the other side as a sign for a brothel.

The central group in the picture consists of a soldier importuned by two prospective mothers: a girl on one side and an old hag on the other, one a supporter of the government and the other a Jacobite. This group, in the classic pose of "Hercules at the Crossroads" is in fact specifically a parody of a celebrated painting of that subject by Rubens in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Other parts of the composition suggest that Hogarth was well aware of subject pictures by Rembrandt such as the famous Night Watch, now of course in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

The young girl, a ballad singer, carries in her basket broadsides with a picture of the Duke of Cumberland (soon to be victorious at the Battle of Culloden) and the ballad "God save our Noble King" is clearly visible. The old woman, whose pregnancy is as obvious as the girl's sells inflammatory papers The Jacobite Journal, The London Evening Post and The Remembrancer, the latter very much an opposition paper that printed attacks on the Duke of Cumberland. The cross on her shawl implies that she is a Papist. To the right two soldiers have punctured a hole in the back of a keg being carried away: one, very drunk, holds a gimlet, while the other fills his canteen. A collapsed drunk, being offered aid by a comrade, turns away from a drink of water to reach for the gin, the cheap scourge of mid-eighteenth century London that Hogarth drew attention to in one of his best-known engravings, Gin Lane.

You will be relieved to hear that I do not intend to dissect the picture any further, since this speech is fast becoming a lecture, although one of the most remarkable things about Hogarth's pictures is the extent to which one can continuously re-interpret them. But let me leave you with an amusing anecdote about the image.

One of Hogarth's first biographers, John Ireland tells us that the artist initially planned to dedicate the engraving of the picture to King George II and either the painting itself or more likely a proof of the engraving, was brought before the monarch. The King's first question was allegedly "Pray, who is this Hogarth?" "A painter, my liege" was the courtier's reply. "I hate bainting and boetry too. Neither one nor the other ever did any good! Does this fellow mean to laugh at my guards ... a bainter burlesque a soldier? He deserves to be picketed for his insolence! Take his trumpery out of my sight!"

Mortified at this reception, Hogarth, who had never had much luck with Royal patronage, instead inscribed his print to Frederick II, the King of Prussia. In truth, I suspect that Ireland's anecdote, amusing though it undoubtedly is, is somewhat apocryphal. Rather more significantly, during 1749 and 1750 the House of Commons was debating and criticising the Duke of Cumberland's recasting of the Mutiny Bill, a belated attempt to bring the British army up to a German standard of order and precision. This is a far more likely explanation of the dedication line on the print.

The painting and the print, published only a year after the publication of Hogarth's friend Henry Fielding celebrated novel Tom Jones, is in some ways a pictorial response to Fielding's masterpiece. It is wonderful news that thanks to the Heritage Memorial Fund and the National Art Collections Fund it will remain on view here in Brunswick Square, where it has rested for the past two and a half centuries.


4th February 2003 - Associate Membership

We are now able to accept applications for Associate Membership. Anyone who would like to become an Associate Member, and who meets the following criteria should contact the secretary for an application form.

  1. are related to or have a bona fide connection with an Annual or Life Member but do not themselves meet the criteria for Annual Membership set out in Clause 4.b of the Constitution

  2. have been a client or user for a specified period of time of certain Foundation/Coram Family projects approved by the General Committee

  3. have particular reasons for seeking Associate Membership which are accepted as valid by the General Committee

  4. have rendered noteworthy service to the OCA, Foundation or Coram Family not meriting the grant of Honorary Membership


4th February 2003 - Charter Day Lunch

The OCA Committee are making arrangements for the charter day lunch and are considering various venues including London House, Mecklenburg Square where the event was held in 2002.


4th February 2003 - Review of Carol Service & Children's Christmas Party 2002

Our Carol Service and children's Christmas party proved to be another great success with 30 members & guests and 7 children attending. Our thanks to the Rev. Timothy Fletcher who led the carol service. The congregation joined in with gusto singing the carols and the collection at the end of the service raised £53.57 which was donated to the Foundling Museum.

The Children's Christmas party was a joyful occasion with children and grown-ups enjoying the Christmas atmosphere. Our thanks to Lydia Carmichael who organised the children's games and to the members and guests who helped prepare the tea-party.

The OCA Committee will, at their next committee meeting in February 2003, be reviewing the viability of continuing with the Carol Service and Christmas party, as even though the small number of children who attended the party thoroughly enjoyed the event, the question remains as to whether the numbers are too small to continue.

If you have any views or would like to comment on this, please contact the Secretary as soon as possible.


28th October 2003 - Carol Service & Children's Christmas Party 2002

This years Carol Service & Children's Christmas Party will be held at Gregory house on Saturday 7th December.

This year, because of the refurbishment of No. 40 we are unable to hold the Carol service in the picture galley.

Invitations will be sent out on 31st October with the Autumn edition of the Coram News.

We look forward to seeing as many people as possible with their grandchildren and would urge you to make a special effort this year to ensure that we can continue to run this event.

28th October 2002 - Charter Day Lunch Review

On Saturday 19th October 2002 over 80 people consisting of former pupils and their guests assembled in London House (Googenough College, Mecklenburgh Square) to celebrate the granting of the Royal Charter establishing the Foundling Hospital as the first Children's Charity in England.

This event is normally held in 40 Brunswick Square, now being refurbished as a museum to be opened in 2004. The event this year was held in London House which was chosen because of its close proximity to No 40 and proved to be an ideal location. A superb lunch was held in the Great Hall with its lovely panelled walls and pictures of former members of the establishment.

We were pleased to have as our guests Mr Peter Brown, former President of the OCA and  governor of Coram Family, and Mr Colin Masters who was the former Secretary and Director of the Thomas Coram Foundation.

There were a number of new faces this year and it was wonderful to hear the stories of schooldays from former pupils who were attending this function for the first time.

Once the speeches were over many of us walked across to the Bonnington where the celebrations continued.

A very successful day, despite not being able to use No 40.

8th July 2002 - Foundling Hospital Documentary - Update

The response to the proposal by Channel Twenty One has been very supportive. Everyone who expressed an interest in taking part will have received an acknowledgement and we now await further information from the organisers.

8th July 2002 - Charter Day Lunch - Temporary New Location

As many of you know, No 40, the Foundling Museum will be closed for two years for refurbishment. Arrangements have now been made for the Charter Day Lunch (2002) to be held at London House, Mecklenburgh Square.

Final arrangements and location details will be sent to all members in the normal manner.

8th July 2002 - OCA opens its doors to new members with Associate Membership

For a long time it has been recognised that as the years go by the number of people eligible to join the OCA would become less and less.

The OCA, at the AGM held in June, approved the introduction of Associate Membership. This now means that the following may apply to the committee for membership:


related to a former Foundling

who is, or has been, in the care of the Coram Family

having an interest in Coram Family

The introduction of Associate Membership will help to ensure the future of the organisation.

For more information please contact:


29th January 2002 - Italian Peasant Boy

At the 2001 AGM the OCA agreed to donate £1000.00 to the Foundling Museum for the refurbishment of the leather cases that contain the Foundling Hospital Royal Charter. It has now been possible to have the refurbishment carried out at a much reduced price and it has been suggested that the surplus money could be used for another project.

Many of us will remember the white marble statue of the boy (Italian Peasant Boy) which stood in the main hall in Berkhamsted. This statue, while having no damage, is in great need of cleaning. It is therefore proposed to use the surplus money from the original £1000.00 to clean the 'Italian Peasant Boy'.


29th January 2002 - Foundling Hospital Documentary

The Coram Family and the OCA have been approached by Channel Twenty One (A TV Production Company) about producing a series of programmes which will look at the Foundling Hospital and its place within the history of child care provision in Britain.

Although in the early stages of planning, we understand that it is hoped that the programme will consist of contextual material, such as the early history of the Foundling Hospital, interwoven with the experiences of former pupils.

Further details will follow as available.


8th December 2001 - OCA President celebrates his 90th Birthday

It was with great pleasure that, during the Children's Christmas Party, the Chairman of the OCA committee (Mrs. Lydia Carmichael) presented our president, Mr. Harold Tarrant, with a Silver picture frame in recognition of his 90th birthday.

Harold was delighted to be remembered and thanked the OCA for their gift.

5th November 2001 - Charter Day Lunch Review

Once again our members enjoyed the Charter Day lunch on 20th October. We were pleased to have as our guests Dr Gillian Pugh, Chief Executive of Coram Family and Mr Jim Swinley, a former Secretary of Thomas Coram Foundation, who joined 106 former pupils , guests and their families.

You can read more about the day in the spring edition of the Coram News.


3rd September 2001 - Foundling Museum Press Release

I have today received confirmation that the dispute over the establishment of the Foundling Museum has been resolved. Coram Family has issued the following Press Statement this morning. I am sure all members of the OCA and former pupils join me in congratulating the staff of Coram Family and the Foundling Museum on their success. If you would like any further information please contact the OCA Secretary.

John Caldicott
Honorary Secretary

Coram Family is pleased to announce that following discussions with the Attorney General's office we have received confirmation that there is no objection to the proposals for the establishment of a Museum at 40 Brunswick Square. These involve restoration of both the Coram collection of paintings and of the building in which these paintings will be housed. The required works will take place over a period of two years following which the collection will once again be available for public viewing.

The scheme will bring considerable benefit to Coram Family, which has been working with disadvantaged children and young people since the early eighteenth century. Dr Gillian Pugh, chief executive of Coram Family says: "This scheme will enable us to provide more services for very needy children, whose lives have been disrupted by family breakdown and abuse. In addition, the education centre in the Foundling Museum will ensure that the Museum is of interest to children, linking with Coram Family's community based work at its headquarters site in Kings Cross and in local schools."

The National Heritage Memorial Fund, whose offer of an endowment of £3million will ensure the long-term operation of the Foundling Museum, applauded the decision. Anthea Case, Director of NHMF, commented: "We are delighted to hear that discussions have reached a positive conclusion. The NHMF, the nations only fund of last resort for saving our heritage, has long shown support for keeping this remarkable collection intact. NHMF's endowment will enable the Museum's Trustees to concentrate on raising the sums needed for restoration so that the building and its outstanding collection can be open once again to visitors."

The Proposed Foundling Museum Scheme

Coram Family is not permitted by its charitable objects to operate a museum or picture gallery, or to spend disproportionately on maintaining these valuable assets. After many years of research and debate to find a way of best utilising the collection to further the childcare objects of the charity, a scheme was devised in 1997/98. Under this scheme, a separate charity was set up (the Foundling Museum) with its own body of trustees, objects that included the benefit of Coram Family and 100% owned by Coram Family. This body will be lent Coram Family's picture collection for a period of 25 years. during which time the trustees of the Museum will endeavour to purchase the collection from Coram Family at market value.

The pictures will be exhibited to the public as a collection that will remain intact and in situ at Brunswick Square thus maintaining its 270 year association with the charity. Coram Family will continue to benefit from the fundraising potential of its historic origins and will use the collection to promote its pioneering childcare work.

Background Information

The primary collection of 150 pictures, painted by England's leading artists, was painted for and given to the Foundling Hospital between 1740 and 1770. These gifts were intended both for the "maintenance and education of the children" and to attract potential donors to the charity. The collection was the first publicly exhibited collection of British art.

The most important pictures in the collection are by William Hogarth (three pictures including his portrait of Captain Thomas Coram) and by Charles Brooking, Andrea Casali. John Singleton Copley, Thomas Gainsborough, Frances Hayman, Edward Haytley, Joseph Highmore, Thomas Hudson, George Lambert, Thomas Luny, Allan Ramsay, Joshua Reynolds, Samuel Wale, James Wills and Richard Wilson, together with sculptures by Rysbrack and Roubihac (a bust of Handel).

The collection includes the keyboard on which Handel performed his Messiah for the Foundling Hospital, which he did for ten years until his death. It also includes many fine clocks, musical manuscripts (including an original copy of Messiah), carpets, silver etc.

When the Foundling Hospital was demolished in the 1920s the collection was moved to its current home in 40 Brunswick Square. In addition, the staircase and three main rooms from the Hospital were moved and reconstructed as part of the same building, creating a unique and historic environment for the collection. One of these rooms, the Court Room, was designed by Hogarth.

NHMF Endowment

Income from the NHMF endowment will be used to meet part of the running costs of the museum, thus ensuring that the important collection and its environment will be open to the public.

3rd September 2001 - Charter Day Invitations

The invitations to the Charter Lunch have now been sent out. Don’t forget there is a limit to the number of people that can be catered for at this sit down lunch. Please send back your forms as soon as possible to avoid being disappointed.

A Special Note for our Overseas Members

We are always mindful that it is not possible for many of our overseas members to attend our various functions. However, we will continue to send details of these events so as to keep you informed of what is going on. Of course, we never know when you might be able to visit the UK when we would be delighted to see you.


30th August 2001 - Foundling Museum satisfactory resolution expected

It is with delight that are expecting to report an end to the controversy regarding the future development of the foundling museum. We have received a 'whisper' that an announcement is shortly to be made.


22nd August 2001 - Welcome to New Members

We are delighted to welcome the following new members to the association:-

Member Name School Name Comments
Mr. David Hartley Son of Ruth Netherway
Mrs. Margaret Hodgkin Wife of Charles Hodgkin
Mrs. Ruth Miller Ruth Amberly Ruth attended the 1951 - 1954 reunion at Ashlyns in May and the Ashlyns 50th Anniversary in July.
Mr. J. Shedden
Mr. Ian Steer Son of John Steer

Our membership continues to grow despite some of the predictions a few years ago. When all subscriptions are in, the membership should be around 310.

Congratulations and thanks to the following annual members who have now become Life Members:-

Mrs. Rachel Day
Mr. Edward Finney Mitson


4th August 2001 - Future of Foundling Museum uncertain - update

With the advent of new government law officers following the general election it is hoped that the problems with the Foundling Museum will soon be overcome. If it is not, then litigation may be the only way forward.
If you would like to know more about what is happening with the Foundling Museum please contact

10th April 2001 - Search for former pupils, your help needed.

We need help to contact the following former pupils of the Foundling Hospital who we are sure were boarders between 1951 and 1954. If you have any information of their whereabouts please email back to the Secretary. This is urgent as we are trying to arrange a special reunion.

June Bellamy
Joan Broardhurst
Kate Dagnall
Murial Ede
Ruth Ellington
Lucy Farrer
Ester Fulford
Ethel Geary
Bertha Hyatt
Grace Inglis
Mildred Innes
Mildred Jarman
Helen Lansbury
Phyllis Naunton
Janet Pemberton
Elsie Quales
Mabel Tanner
Bridget Thwaites
James Baddeley
Peter Bowes
Melvyn Brookes
Brian Caldwell
James Cannon
David Cleaver
William Clegg
H. Dennis
Ken Ethington
Herbert Frazer
Ralph Griffin
James Halifax
Frank Immerson
Charles Jagger
Keith Jardine
Richard Mayne
Stanley Ovington
Victor Quainton
Alan Staines
Richard Swift
Edwin Tackley
Robert Underhay
Charles Vance
Harry Wheeler
Alan Gresham

14th March 2001 - Future of the Foundling Museum Uncertain

The battle to ensure the creation of an official Foundling Museum is now on. The matter was raised in parliament on Tuesday 13th March and the following was published in the Guardian on Wednesday 14th March (below). If the Solicitor General does not change his mind the art collection and No40 may have to be sold. Former pupils of the Foundling Hospital will be outraged. The Secretary of the OCA is in regular contact with the Museum and will maintain this website with up to date information.

Art outcry

Westminster row after legal threat to charity's collection

Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent
Wednesday March 14, 2001
The Guardian

A plan to open one of London's least known art collections to the public is in danger of collapse in a legal dispute over the charitable status of the collection and its owners, MPs heard yesterday.
The Coram Foundation, in Bloomsbury, holds works by Gainsborough, Reynolds and Hogarth, such as Hogarth's The March to Finchley. The collection, valued at £17m, dates back to the 18th century, when fashionable artists, led by Hogarth, took up the cause of the foundling hospital begun by a wealthy merchant seaman, Captain Coram, after he literally stumbled over an abandoned baby lying in a gutter.
The foundation, whose original role has been transformed into a range of services for children, had intended to establish a separate trust, which would hold the pictures for 25 years and create a new public museum in the headquarters building to display the pictures.
A £3m lottery grant had already been agreed in principle. But the legality of the project has been questioned by the solicitor general, Ross Cranston, who says it goes beyond the charity's aims of caring for children. The former Labour health secretary, Frank Dobson, yesterday joined Tories including Peter Brooke and former attorney general Sir Nicholas Lyell in attacking the move during a debate in Westminster Hall.
"We are really between a rock and a hard place on this one," Gillian Pugh, chief executive of the Coram Foundation, said last night. The loan agreement was reached after months of discussion with the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Charity Commissioners.
"We believed that our plan was the best way of realising the value of the pictures while keeping them on the wall and allowing the public to enjoy them, in a way which has never been possible before."

Guardian Unlimited
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001