What?: Seven-acre inner-city playground occupying the site of the former London Foundling Hospital. If you’ve ever been to the Foundling Museum you’ll already know the story of Captain Thomas Coram, the philanthropist who founded the hospital in 1739 to house and care for the countless abandoned children living on the capital’s streets. Every Londoner with kids should pay this endlessly fascinating and heartbreaking museum a visit – particularly if you’re in Coram’s Fields as it’s right next door – just make sure you bring tissues.
The fields in their current incarnation have been in use for more than 80 years, following the hospital’s relocation outside of London and their subsequent preservation for the use of children living in the capital. Today this amazing charitable facility is enjoyed by thousands of children and young people every year, from locals to visitors from all over the world.
The site, which is encircled by the Foundling Hospital’s original single-storey colonnade buildings, comprises a number of play areas with apparatus ranging from knee-height sand tables and cage swings for toddlers to treehouse climbing frames and a towering helter-skelter for older kids, as well as a nursery, an after-school club, a 0-5s drop-in centre, rooms and pitches for hire, and a recently refurbished youth centre featuring an IT suite and arts and music studios.
Where?: Bloomsbury, a five-minute walk from Russell Square (Piccadilly) and about 15 from Euston (Ginger, mainline, Northern, Victoria), King’s Cross (mainline, Victoria, Northern, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan) and Chancery Lane (Central).
Best Bits: Entrance to the park is free and all activities provided by the Youth Centre, Children’s Centre and Sports Programme are also free. All adults must be accompanied by a child and staff are present to deter child-free weirdos from casually wandering in.
Worst Bits: On the day we visited almost half of the park had been temporarily surrendered to a film set, but given that ground hire is absolutely crucial in raising the funds needed to keep this amazing park going I can’t really complain.
Facilities: There is a little cafe offering a small kids’ menu, toilets for 0-5s and baby-change facilities.
Price: Entry is free, but donations (through the website) are welcomed.
Would We Come Back?: Described as ‘a haven for play’ on the website, Coram’s Fields really is a little slice of paradise slap bang in the middle of London. We will definitely be returning during the summer for some inner-city respite.
Bab looks pensive on a swing at Coram’s Fields, Bloomsbury