Despite living in London for years and visiting Corams Fields (a park just behind Great Ormond Street Hospital which is free, amazing and only allows adults in if accompanied by a little one) on many, many occasions (it has always been our stop gap when being in central gets too much for the kiddos), we had never been to The Foundling Museum which stands just behind it. The park is only there because of the hospital so it’s very odd that we’d never been but now we have rectified that with a visit we won’t forget, and one which we hope to recreate on other trips!
It’s a really small museum located in the Foundling Hospital, a place where mothers left their children when they were unable to look after them and as sad as some of the stories are it is interesting. Well worth a visit and for children like mine, ones who read Hetty Feather books by Jacqueline Wilson and or watch the series on CBBC, it’s a story they know very well; to see in the flesh what the real Foundling Hospital looks like and what it may have been like to be a child living there is a real eye opener – the museum describes it very well.
Jacqueline’s story of Hetty has really captured a whole generation of children who are interested in what happened at the Foundling Hospital, experiencing empathy and sorrow for perhaps the first time through story. Because although Hetty is fictitious, the characters she is based on are absolutely not and the Foundling Museum tells more of the real story through some amazing pieces (the trinkets left for children by their mothers as a lasting thought of them to be remembered by springs to mind). And this summer, until the schools go back, they are hosting a Hetty Feather exhibition which for Florence in particular was just perfect!
Children are given a welcome pack for the exhibition with a Hetty Feather magazine and museum trail which they were thrilled with and it really helped excite them about the whole prospect of learning. The story is a really enjoyable one but with very important messages and the trail helps them to see this.
Down in the exhibition they got to dress up as characters from the programme, sit in the school and really get hands on with what was on offer all about Hetty. Florence was disappointed a couple of weeks ago when we had been invited to the opening where Jacqueline herself was going to be but the exhibition alone made up for that disappointment and she beamed the entire time we were there – of course we couldn’t resist buying her the next installment in the books for her to take away from the gift shop – it’s so beautiful to see a child so excited by literature and history!
The Foundling Museum say:
Since the first Hetty Feather book was published in 2008, Dame Jacqueline Wilson’s series of novels has delighted young audiences with the adventures of its eponymous heroine, the spirited Victorian foundling Hetty Feather. Selling millions of copies, the books have led to an Olivier Award-nominated stage show and BAFTA-nominated CBBC television series. For her Foundling Fellowship at the Museum, Wilson researched the history of the Foundling Hospital and developed the character of Hetty Feather, a girl who uses imaginative storytelling or, as she calls it, ‘picturing’ to deal with life’s challenges.
Picturing Hetty Feather explores the ways in which writers, directors and designers have used historical evidence and factual gaps to bring the nineteenth-century Foundling Hospital to life. Find out about the real history of the Hospital, discover how it inspired Dame Jacqueline Wilson to create the character of Hetty, and explore how Hetty’s story has come to life as a stage show and television series. On display are props and original costumes from the CBBC Hetty Feather television set, alongside unseen treasures from the Foundling Hospital Collection and archive. Try on costumes made for the CBBC production and use your imagination in a range of interactive activities.
This immersive exhibition transports visitors of all ages to the Foundling Hospital. Discover your own ‘picturing’ abilities in relation to the Foundling Hospital story, and imagine what life was like for Hetty and the real-life foundling children.
And we loved it – great little museum with lots going on besides the Hetty exhibition but this one is so worth a visit so do catch it while you can!
The Hetty Feather exhibition, Picturing Hetty Feather, is on until the 3rd September and costs an additional £3 on the entry price (free for children and Foundling Friends).
FREE for children, Foundling Friends & National Art Pass holders
Thanks to the Foundling Museum for inviting us.