Picturing Hetty Feather, Foundling Museum, May 2017

As much as my kids moan about the number of museums I drag them to there are times when a museum trip can prove very useful. The new Picturing Hetty Feather exhibition at the Foundling Museum is something I knew my girls aged 13 and 9 would love, so, with a little bit of pre-planning I managed to get them out of school for the day so they could experience a press preview and be the first to see their much loved Victorian foundling come to life.

I try to get them away from the television but they always find a way back!

The creation of Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Hetty Feather is a foundling girl featuring in a series of books first published in 2008. My girls are fans of the CBBC television adaption of the books and I know they will be excited to see the props and costumes behind the show. I am hoping that they will also realise the Founding Hospital and museum provided the inspiration for the books. Dame Jacqueline Wilson was one of the museum’s first Foundling Fellows and based her stories around the real lives of the Foundling children left at the hospital by their desperate mothers who were hoping for a better life for their sons and daughters.

I let my two loose with my camera and gave them a notepad each. They quickly adapted to becoming my mini-bloggers following very much in their mother’s footsteps. I loved how the small space had been transformed from my last visit to see Child’s Play, a selection of photographs by Mark Neville. The school room layout was ingenious and there was a certain irony to seeing my two practising their lines when they thought they had got out of school work for the day.

They rushed around filling me in on the characters and plot, whilst I explained the reality behind the story of Hetty using the wonderful original photographs and memorabilia from the hospital. My eldest was very excited when she realised one of the photographs was from a yet to be screened episode and was thrilled to get the inside track on future events.

With a huge amount of persuading we managed to get the youngest to dress up in an original foundling costume from the series, we only managed it on the proviso that I didn’t published a picture. Suffice to say she looked gorgeous.

Wonderful Foundling costumes you can try on.

I really enjoyed a chance to share my daughters’ passion and I found the mix of props and original foundling artefacts worked really well. As we wandered round the rest of the museum I loved the fact the girls were fascinated by the tokens left behind by mothers who hoped one day to be re-united with their loved ones.

Looking at the Foundling tokens
Our own version of Handel

My mini-bloggers had me in fits of laughter as they played around listening to Handel and discovered more about his connection to the museum. I was very impressed my eldest recognised a bust of Handel in the cabinet, a replica of which sits on our piano at home. It belonged to a much missed Grandmother and made for a poignant end to the day.

Some lovely touches in the exhibition, including a Hetty Feather incident report.

One condition of taking them out of school was they had to write their own reviews. I think they can tell you about the exhibition and do a much better job than me!

Museum homework

I have always been a fan of the Hetty Feather television show. I remember just stumbling upon it one day and then, the next thing I knew, we were watching every episode of each series. I think it was the touch of rebellion that was reflected in Hetty’s time in the Foundling Hospital that hooked me. Sometimes she was selfish, other times, passionate and fierce. It was the fact that she was so intent on getting one-on-one time with her mother that spurred me to keep watching.

I enjoyed the new Hetty Feather exhibition very much. I was fascinated to see all the work that was put into the TV show and also to see some familiar props. The sights of familiar costumes brought back many memories of the early episodes and I wanted to explore it all in a heart beat.

If I had to pick one fault, it would be that I wished it was bigger. I think, however, that this shows I enjoyed it but just wanted something more. Daughter no1 aged 13.

And from my youngest…

I recently went to a Hetty Feather exhibition at the Foundling museum, the Foundling Museum used to be the Foundling Hospital where mothers took their children because they couldn’t afford to keep them.

I liked how you can see all the dresses that they wore during the making of the series. I loved all the tokens they left at the hospital. The mother leaves what ever she has. Daughter no 2 aged 9.

The girls were captivated by the tokens.

I highly recommend a visit, not only for fans of Jacqueline Wilson’s books and TV show, but also all those budding writers who want to see where a little bit of historical inspiration and some wonderful story telling can get you.


Picturing Hetty Feather is on at the Foundling Museum from 26th May – 3rd September 2017 for more information and ticket prices please see the website.


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