Gerald Coke Handel Collection

The composer George Frideric Handel was a Governor and benefactor of the Foundling Hospital, and annual performances of Messiah provided vital sources of income for the Hospital. Handel offered his first benefit concert for the Hospital in 1749 to fund the completion of the Chapel, and composed the anthem Blessed are they that considereth the poor, known as the Foundling Hospital Anthem, for this occasion.  The event was so successful that the Governors asked him for another concert the following year; Handel chose to perform Messiah and he gave performances every year until his death in 1759.  He also paid for the first organ to be installed in the Hospital Chapel.

In addition to the score and parts of Messiah bequeathed to the Hospital by Handel in his will, the Museum holds the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, an internationally important Collection of material relating to Handel and his contemporaries.  The Collection of manuscripts, printed books and music, libretti, paintings and engravings, memorabilia, art works and ephemera, includes Handel’s will amongst its treasures.  It was collected by Gerald Coke over a period of sixty years and left to the nation by his widow with a wish that it be allocated to the Thomas Coram Foundation in the care of the Handel Institute; the endowment accompanying the Collection is now managed by the Gerald Coke Handel Foundation.

The Gerald Coke Handel Collection was awarded the 2012 Excellence Award for Music Libraries by the International Association of Music Libraries (IAML) in May 2012. The award highlights and celebrates all the good work that is carried out by the Gerald Coke Handel Collection from supporting research to providing sets of scores for choral and orchestral societies. Click here to find out more.

The Gerald Coke Handel Collection has formed a partnership with the music department of Goldsmiths College, University of London, to support undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Click here to find out more.

Handel House Museum recently made a film about Charles Jennens, featuring images from the collection -  watch it here.

Library facilities

The library also houses the research collection of the Handel House Museum which is included in the Gerald Coke Handel Collection catalogue.

In addition to the public exhibition gallery, open during normal Museum hours, the reading room of the Gerald Coke Handel Collection is open Wednesday-Friday for research by appointment.

For enquiries or appointments please telephone +44 (0)20 7841 3606 or send an email.  Please note that the Collection is usually staffed only from Wednesday to Friday. For Foundling Museum opening hours please click here.

Image: Ticket for performance of Messiah at the Foundling Hospital, 6 April 1773.