Rosie Douglas lives in the Lower Inman Valley. Sheemigrated to Australia from England with her parentswhen she was three.
At the time, she had no idea of the painful memories her father, William Epps,was leaving behind in his homeland. Given up to the Foundling Hospital, Britain’s first home for abandoned children, at just two months old, it wasn’t until William was well into his adulthood that he discovered the truth about where he came from.
Rosie told her story, as part of the Travel Tales promotion.
The trip in 2011was like apilgrimagefor me. It was the first time I had been to the Foundling Hospital, which is in the centre of London.
There were lots of people at the reunion, many of them aged in their 80s. They referred to themselves at ‘inmates’. The reunion was part of the healing process for them. There were some very sad stories.
My father was placed in the hospital when he was two months old. His mother was 21 when she had him but her own mother fell pregnant around the same time so dad was put into ‘care’. Parents who put their children at the Foundling Hospital thought they could get their children back but this wasn’t the case. Every year, his mother, whose name was Lily Lyon, visited the hospital on his birthday but she was never allowed to see him. Dad never received the presents she left for him.
It turned out, they had changed his name. Dad was actually born George Lyon but his name was changed to William Epps. This was commonplace, to stop parents from tracing their children. By the time dad was an adult and the confidential papers were released, it was too late. He never met his mother. She had already died.
My dad was given a set ofnumbers when he was taken to the hospital, which he passed on to me. At the reunion, I found a man whose numbers were only eight digits different to my father’s. His name was Burt Bunt.
I visited Burt in his home and met his family and he gave me some photos. Burt’s son, Gary Bunt, lived next door and he said he was artist. I expressed my own interest in art so Gary invited me over to see his studio. We spent some time talking and he gave me a signed book. It wasn’t until later I discovered what a well-known artist Gary was.
Read more about the Foundling Hospital here.
I also took time to visit the church in Itchingfield, West Sussex where my parents were married.
I would recommend this type of trip to others astracing your family history takes you toplaces you wouldn’t normally go.I want to go back and hear more stories. I travelled on my own and spent one month abroad.
The church at Itchingfield, West Sussex where my great-grandparents & grandparents are buried. The honour rolls on the walls of the church name my uncles who died in both world wars. A tree in the background has a arrow embedded in it from the Robin Hood days.
Rosie Douglas on the Thames London Bridge.
Artist Gary Bunt in his studio.
Captain Thomas Coram (c. 1668 – 29 March 1751) was a philanthropist who created the London Foundling Hospital.