Thomas Coram Foundation for Children

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The former headquarters of the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children in Brunswick Square. Above the door is a bust of the charity's founder.

The Thomas Coram Foundation for Children is a large children's charity in London which uses the working name Coram (formerly Coram Family).[1]

It is one of England's oldest children's charities, established by royal charter in 1739 as the Foundling Hospital.


The headquarters of the charity are at Mecklenburgh Square in London. It works with children separated from their parents, supports vulnerable families, and lobbies on policy and practice issues in childcare through its various services, such as Adoption, Housing and Support (formerly Leaving Care Services and Creative Therapies), and the Parents' Centre (which was a pilot project for Sure Start).

Coram Life Education is the largest health education program for children in the UK, with a fleet of nearly 100 mobile classrooms that visit 4,000 schools around the country.

Coram Children's Legal Centre provides the free national Child Law Advice Line, a 24-hours service covering education, immigration and family law issues. It also provides extensive international consultancy.


The Chief Executive of Coram since 2007 is Dr Carol Homden. Its Chair of Board of Trustees is Edward Hartill OBE, former City Surveyor of the City of London Corporation and its President is Sir Michael Bear.


Main article: Foundling Hospital

The Foundling Hospital was begun by the philanthropic sea captain Thomas Coram, who was appalled to see abandoned babies and children starving and dying in the streets of London. In 1742–1745 a building was erected north of Lamb's Conduit Street in Bloomsbury. Boys were housed in the West Wing of the new home. The East Wing was built in 1752 to house girls.

Popular artists of the 18th century became patrons and governors of the Foundling Hospital and donated some of their work to the foundation. The art collection contains works by William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds, including a full-length portrait of Thomas Coram himself, along with musical scores by Handel including a fair copy of Messiah bequeathed in his will.

The Foundling Hospital became fashionable as a cause, a gallery and a concert hall. Governors of the hospital decided in 1926 to realise the value of the London site (it was sold for £2 million) and to build a new hospital on the Ashlyns site at Berkhamsted. The children were sent to temporary premises in Redhill until 1935 when the Georgian-style buildings in Berkhamsted were ready for occupation.

Hertfordshire County Council took responsibility for the school part of the hospital when it became Ashlyns School in 1951. Boarders at The Thomas Coram Foundation for Children were 'phased out' by 1955, when the Foundation sold the buildings to the County Council.

Foundling Museum[edit]

Main article: Foundling Museum

The historic collections of the Foundling Hospital were moved in the 1920s to Brunswick Square, London, where a museum was established. In 1998 the building and collections were formally constituted as a separate charity, the Foundling Museum.[2]

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