Foundling Museum Tokens

This historical site is fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time.

The Foundling Museum in London is dedicated to the history of the Hospital for the Education and Maintenance of Exposed and Deserted Young Children.

The institution was founded in 1739 and for over 200 years accepted children whose parents could no longer care for them. At a time when children often starved in the streets, the hospital provided food, clothing, shelter, and a job training.  It was so popular that parents took part in lotteries to be able to place their children at the facility.

token museum

Starting in 1760, the home began to issue receipts for children, just in case parents were in a position to retrieve them someday. In those times, most people couldn’t read or write. Instead they left tokens to identify themselves and their relationship to the child.

Sometimes lockets or rings. Sometimes something as simple as a ribbon or fabric swatch from the clothing the child wore. The images of these tokens are haunting.

The history of the hospital is also a fascinating read. You’ll also learn about the museum and the programs it offers. When folks begin to travel again, it is certainly a worthy stop in London.

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