Winding up the central spine of the Museum is the original oak staircase from the boys’ wing of the Foundling Hospital. The wide, flat, sturdy handrail and broad turned balusters are suggestive of the utilitarian nature of most of the fittings in the original Hospital building.

Works of art and objects on the stairs include the newly-commissioned portraits of former pupils as well as clocks and religious art and artefacts.

The wide handrail proved ideal for the braver boys to slide down, a rare opportunity for fun and rule-breaking. Sadly in 1773 one boy, Joseph Moss, fell from the stairs and died after hitting his head. He was only seven years old and was buried in St Pancras Parish Chapel. Joseph was one of a group of parish children taken in by the Hospital under an initiative whereby the Hospital could receive funding from local parishes in return for the children’s care. As such, Joseph’s name would not have been changed on arrival and was the name given to him by his parents. Following this incident iron spikes were added to the handrail to prevent further accidents.

Did you know...

The Foundling Hospital staircase

The staircase from the girls’ wing was moved to the Berkhamsted site