I heard about The Foundling Museum and Threads of Feeling during the afternoon at the ERTF conference in November where I was giving a talk. Janette Bright, who contributed much as a museum volunteer inspired me and I decided that I must visit the museum on my next visit to London. It is a special place full of poignant memories and human stories.
Here are some thoughts from the catalogue, Threads of Feeling written by John Styles to accompany the exhibition.
‘When mothers left babies at London’s Foundling Hospital in the mid 18th. century, the hospital often retained a small token as a means of identification, usually a piece of fabric. These swatches of fabric now form Britain’s largest collection of everyday textiles from 18th. century……… The enthralling stories the fabrics tell about textiles, fashion, women’s skills, infant clothing and maternal emotion are the material of Threads of Feeling.‘
‘To a modern audience it can seem odd that the mothers of the Foundling babies used cloth to express the most tender human feelings. Of course, many of them, probably most, were illiterate…. The language of ribbons and hearts, by contrast, was accessible to all.’
There are two publications which are well worth owning. You can find out more on the website: www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk