The enthralling stories the fabrics tell about textiles, fashion, women’s skills, infant clothing and maternal emotion are the material of Threads of Feeling.
The importance of the Foundling textiles – 5,000 rare, beautiful, mundane and moving scraps of fabric – lies in the fact that so few pieces of eighteenth-century clothing have otherwise survived that can be identified with any confidence as having belonged to the poor. Ordinary people’s clothes were worn and re-worn by a succession of owners until they fell into rags, or they were cut up and reused for quilts, baby clothes, and the like. If, by chance, they outlived the eighteenth century, they were unlikely to excite the attention of collectors or museums. The Foundling collection includes the whole range of textile fabrics worn by ordinary women – exposing a lost world of camblet and fustian, susy and cherryderry, calimanco and linsey-woolsey – along with ribbons, embroidery and even some baby clothes
Along with scraps of fabric some parents left little tokens such as thimbles, lock and key, even a small ring as well as little token bits of metal with something engraved on. It must have been distressing to leave your child and the fact that they left it with something from their birth family showed, I think, that they cared but had no choice what so ever.
Because of the very well kept records in a time when things were not recorded as they are now we also get an insight into fabrics of the time. Fabrics that belonged to everyday people and would by now have disappeared and we would have no knowledge of.
This is an embroidered sampler attached to foundling 14695, a little boy admitted on 6 December 1759.
'worckt with flowers' linen or cotton with flowers attached to foundling 14084 a little boy admitted 3 October 1759.
I have bought a book on this subject called Threads of feeling by John Styles so that I can learn more about this sad but interesting subject. I have also done my homework on line to read all that I can. I have used images from google and these are I am sure images taken by the museum and for this outstanding book. I have enjoyed learning about the foundling tokens and with my love of vintage, fabrics and embroidery I have found it extremely interesting and extremely heart rendering....
I hope that you enjoy reading about this piece of history. If you would like to visit the museum the address is :
40 Brunswick Square
Opening times Tue - Sat 10.00am until 5pm Tickets are £7.50 per adult ( there are concessions and children under a certain age go in for free)
I myself will be making a visit to the museum in the next few weeks as this has touched my heart and taken a grip of my interest.