London Studies Visit to
Freemasons Hall and Foundlings Museum
The October trip of London Studies organised by Tony Pearson showed the extremes of London past and present - from great wealth to the extremes of poverty with a little classical music thrown in on the side.We started our visit at the Freemasons Hall near Holborn. The bland exterior belied a superb and very large Art Deco masterpiece with its gold decorations, mosaics and stained glass windows. After a quick look round of the museum our guide gave us a short history of the organisation before taking us through the room where the dignatories don their elaborate gowns in advance of entering the grand Temple for the ceremonies and meetings. The Temple itself was on a grand scale and has been used in both films and TV. In between we had the opportunity to see the elaborate memorial hall to the masons killed during the Great War. It was a fascinating introduction to a hidden gem of London and we learnt about the organisations generous charitable donations. However many of the mysteries of this sometimes secretive organisation remained! No photos allowed!We then moved on to the Foundling Museum where we heard about the origins of the Foundling Hospital set up in the 18th Century by Thomas Coram to take in and subsequently educate unwanted babies at a time when many were simply abandoned and left to die. Cabinets displayed poignant trinkets left by the unfortunate destitute mothers - most of whom never saw their children again. However the building itself was a tribute to the founder and we were able to see parts of an earlier building dating from his time including the room where it was decided whether or not to accept the babies and the court room as well as a superb art collection - most of it donated. We concluded the visit in a room dedicated to the composer Handel who was a benefactor to the hospital and it was to the strains of his music that we ended a thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable day.