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|Not exactly baby farms......
Written by JulieW
(3/31/2008 9:03 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Did they have baby farms in the regency?, penned by Tarn
Of course in England the most famous and first was The Foundling Hospital, founded by Thomas Corum a seafaring merchant, born in Lyme Regis.
While living at Rotherhithe and pursuing his business interests in London, Coram regularly travelled a route on which he saw abandoned children, some dead, others dying. In 1722, motivated by an enduring blend of Christian benevolence, practical morality, and civic spirit, he decided to take action.
Inspired by the examples of the foundling hospitals on the continent, he advocated one for London. However, failure attended these first efforts, but in 1739 Thomas Corum obtained a royal charter for a Hospital for the Maintenance and Education of Exposed and Deserted Young Children. Orphaneges for such children had not been adopted in England, unlike in Europe, due to the prevailing puritan outlook : it was conisdered that young women would be encouraged into immorality and vice if facilities were provided for the succor of unwated children.
Thomas Corum and his supporters- including Hogarth who painted this stunning portrait of him- combined pity of the unwanted child with a certain commercial pragmatism.
The care regime for the child was as follows: after four years of wet nursing and foster care in the country among suitable families, the foundling children were taught useful skills in the Hospital that would benefit them and society. Girls were brought up to be domestic servants and boys to be employable in husbandry, seafaring or as household servants or placed with London shopkeeperes( their ability to write and keep accounts assisted them in this). Boys were apprenticed at the age of 12 or 13, girls at 14.
Here is a picture of the building:
And here ,from Ackerman's book, The Micorcosm of London:
is a picture of the chapel of the Foundling Hospital ,by Rowlandson and Pugin:
The Interesting point about the Foundling Hospital for us, is that it was conveniently situated in Brunswick Square, home of the John Knightleys.......
Here is a picture of Brunswick Square from The Regency A-Z based on John Horwood's maps of London of 1799-1819
You can see the Foundling Hospital quite cleary I hope, with Brunswick Square set around it- for the square was in fact built on land owned by the Foundling Hospital and was developed by the Governors of the Hospital:
The Foundling Hospital, which, like so many institutions of the 1740-60 period, stood out in the fields. Unlike other hospitals, however, the Foundling possessed the freehold of much of the land surrounding it and it was seen that, as London expanded northwards, this could be made a considerable source of wealth." When the Governors talked of building in 1788 there was an immediate outcry against the invasion of more open country; it was also considered that the children's health might suffer. Two years later, however, the hospital architect was instructed to make a report. This architect was Samuel Pepys Cockerell, a pupil of Sir Robert Taylor and a man who, like Taylor, combined artistic ability and scholarship with a real grasp of practical affairs and an unimpeachable professional character.
By 1802 nearly 600 houses had been built on the estate owned by the foundling Hospital.Of which Mr John Knightley's was one.
And Mr Woodhouse would be very happy that his daughters home was indeed considered to be in a part of London where the air was good( which as one of the reasons the Foundling Hospital was built where it as, on the outskirts of the city to promote the health of the children.).
However, I think it no coincidence that JA placed their home there...but that's a matter for future chapters and so I will shut up now ;-)
But one last thing: here is a picture of the small tokens mothers left with their babies in the somewhat forlorn hope that one day they would be reunited with their children and be able to recognise them by this token:
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