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Antique textile exhibit

The World of Interiors did a lovely story last March about an 18th century

Foundling hospital created by Captain Thomas Coram. Having made his fortune

in trade with the colonies, in his retirement he had noticed on early morning walks

from Rotherhithe into the city of London numerous swaddled babies left on the

steps of various Churches in the hopes that the abandoned babies would be

taken care of . By 1739 the foundling hospital he created with the help of 375

others, including six dukes and 11 earls became the first charity to received a

royal charter, and in 1741 received it’s first orphans. Recently discovered is an

archive of 18th century fabrics that were collected as part of paperwork to

admit each child. Though no question were asked of the women, no names were

required, they were asked by the hospital to leave a small token of remembrance

in case they were able to return to claim their child. Sarah Bender left the scrap

above with her son Charles, who she returned to claim nine years later.

Antique textile exhibit

Though many left nothing, others left trinkets, beads,  keys,  ribbons, and fabric cut

from a mother’s hem or sleeve that was attached to the registration billet. Sadly, of

the 16, 282 children admitted between 1741 and 1760, only 152 were reclaimed.

The poignancy of the hopeful and loving scraps pinned to so many forms tell a

wistful story in the Threads of Feeling exhibit held at the Foundling Museum last

March. The heart is a reoccurring emblem, as well as fabrics decorated with

flowers, birds, butterflies.

18th century textile

Closeted in dark archives, the textiles have survived the centuries in

remarkable condition and are a glimpse into a wide swathe of the social

economic population. Each scrap tells a story.  If you’re a fabric nut

or a fan of old script…you’ll love this glimpse into the 18th century…

 Curator John Styles, the author of Dress of the People and Threads of Feeling

brings to light the significance of what is now recognized as Britain’s

largest collection of everyday textiles. Threads of Feeling exhibit

photos here, more photos and review of exhibit here

garden roses

The kitchen counter is crowded with garden roses

and my Mother’s coming for a visit. One child will undoubtedly

 call from college and the other might help me with the weeding!

Happy Mother’s Day to all!


From Swatch with Mother

by Frances Spalding

World of Interiors March 2011