Happy new year to you, lovely bloggers, one and all!
It's somewhat belatedly that I begin writing in 2011 as I'm afraid the dreaded flu virus has been lurking in the Treasure household since the new year. First it was Mr Treasure's turn to be poorly and then, just when I thought I'd got away with it, I came down with a bug too and so my life up until now has been dominated by warm honey and lemon drinks and rather a lot of sleep. Still, I'm happy to report that that I think the bugs and germs are finally on their way out...hoorah!
In amongst the festive season and fighting off flu, I've been writing about all sorts of things for various magazines. In my line of work I get to write about a whole plethora of fascinating subjects, so I thought I'd tell you all about a museum collection and exhibition that I've just finished writing about for Sew Hip magazine...
‘Flowered all over with cards’. Cotton or linen printed with a playing card pattern. A boy admitted 24 December 1759. Named Joseph Floyd by the Foundling Hospital. Apprenticed 26 July 1769 to John Bedsforth, whitster of Staines, Middlesex. © Coram
The Foundling Museum in London has the largest surviving collection of everyday eighteenth-century textiles. It's rather poignant why they have such a collection, but really interesting none the less. In the eighteenth-century, if mothers found themselves in the desperate position of not being able to look after their children, they took them to The London Foundling Hospital in the hope of giving them a new start. In the case of over 4000 babies left at the Hospital between 1741 and 1760, a small token, usually a piece of fabric, was kept with the child's records by way of an identifier, should a mother ever return to reclaim her child. The Museum's current exhibition, Threads of Feeling, showcases a selection of these textile tokens.
'Flowered lining'. Copperplate print on linen. © Coram
Sometimes a mother would choose what to leave with her baby, but when no token was left, the Hospital's administrators would simply cut a scrap of fabric from the clothes the child was wearing when it arrived.
‘Striped Calimanker.’ Calimanco (a worsted fabrics) woven in stripes and figures. Foundling number 12956. © Coram
Threads of Feeling runs until 6th March 2011, but fear not if you can't get to London in time to see it...there's a permanent online exhibition that you can see from the comfort of your own armchair.
'A bunch of 4 ribbons narrow - Yellow, Blue, Green and Pink'. © Coram
Ribbons were often left with children as they had great symbolic meaning...of separation and parting. Having been tucked away in the Hospital's billet books (where all the children's records were bound and kept together), it's no wonder that the colours of these ribbons are still so vibrant!
'Sleeves red and white speckl'd linen turn'd up red spotted with white'. A baby's sleeve made from linen. © Coram
Sometimes a piece of the child's clothing was kept as a token, just like this sleeve. There are also a number of caps in the Museum's collection that were saved as tokens for some children admitted to the Hospital.
It's not always possible to include everything in a magazine article due to copy deadlines and publication timescales. This was the case with the Curator's Talk early next month, so I promised the Museum I'd mention it here instead!
Installation of falling ribbons, created by Annabel Lewis of VV Rouleaux, as part of the Museum's exhibition.