Tour Locations | Charles Dickens from Furnival's Inn to Doughty Street
LOCATION 14 | Charles Dickens from Furnival's Inn to Doughty Street
As you walk, look to your right.
This imposing building is not somewhere Dickens would have known. While Dickens was living here, much of this street bordered the grounds of the Foundling Hospital. It used to be behind the white walls up ahead, on the right.
The Foundling Hospital was a children's home, where desperate, poor parents could place babies they couldn't afford to keep. The home was founded by the philanthropist Thomas Coram, in 1739. He was a merchant seaman who had made his fortune and then returned to England. When Coram came home, he was horrified by how many abandoned babies he saw on the streets of London. He received a royal charter from King George II to set up the hospital. Coram worked tirelessly to help poor babies and their mothers. In doing so, he spent his entire fortune.The musician George Frideric Handel and the artist William Hogarth supported Coram. Hogarth donated some of his paintings and encouraged other artists to do the same. Members of the public then paid to see the paintings, raising funds for the charity. This made the Foundling Hospital the first public art gallery in Britain.
A century later, Charles Dickens was a fan of William Hogarth's work. He decorated his home with prints of Hogarth's paintings and admired his philanthropic work. The children of the Foundling Hospital inspired Dickens to write the story of Oliver Twist.
Keep walking straight.