Foundling Hospital
Open Air School
Coram's Fields, Guilford Street, Bloomsbury, WC1N 1DN
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1927 - 1939

Open Air School

An open air school had been established a little earlier in Cartwright Gardens, WC1, but little is known about that site.  Elsewhere in the district, a small open air school had opened, at least briefly, in the churchyard of St Giles-in-the-Fields.  Attempts to set one up in Lincoln's Inn Fields had been rebuffed.

When the Foundling Hospital moved from Guilford Street to the countryside, the trustees arranged in 1926 to sell the abandoned building and its grounds to James White, a property developer, who intended to move the wholesale vegetable market thither from Covent Garden.  The buildings were soon demolished, but there was great local opposition to this scheme and, in 1927, the scheme was dropped.  Largely from the beneficence of the press baron Lord Rothermere, through the Harmsworth Medical Foundation, the 9-acre estate was secured for public purposes.

As well a providing a large children's play area, which opened in 1936 as Coram's Fields, the original debate over the site's future had promoted the idea of creating a new open air school in part of the grounds.  

As a result, in 1927, a number of pavilion structures were erected in the area adjacent to Mecklenburgh Square, to the east of the old Hospital buildings, with other buildings further south.  The open air school in Cartwright Gardens relocated to the new site.

The Open Air School was variously known as the Foundling Hospital Open Air School, Coram's Fields Open Air School and Coram's Hospital Open Air School.

Records are skimpy, but the pavilions are still shown on a 1938 town plan, and it appears likely that the school closed down, like many of its counterparts, on the outbreak of WW2 in 1939.

Present status (April 2013)

Part of the site of the original pavilions is now occupied by the Wolfson Centre, part of University College London.

Wolfson Centre

The Wolfson Centre (above and below) occupies part of the site of the Open Air School.

Coram's Fields

Coram's Fields
The School was probably just to the west and southwest of the Wolfson Centre.

Coram's Fields
Coram's Fields and Harmsworth Memorial Gardens.

Coram's Fields
A plaque by the park entrance commemorates the site of the Foundling Hospital, established by Captain Thomas Coram in 1739, and the saving of the land by Lord Rothermere and others for use as a public park
(Author unstated) 1927 Foundling Hospital site. Suggested open air school.  The Times, 19th January.

(Author unstated) 1927 Foundling Hospital playground. An open space for children.  The Times, 21st July.


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