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Captain Coram and his adventurous Ideas about Advent

As snow whitens the mountains to the east, the sexton climbs a ladder in the middle of the nave, and lights the first of Advent’s four candles in the big green wreath suspended from the rafters. Daylight is dwindling. The nights are growing longer. Christians are entering the Season of Advent, the first season of the church year. Advent means “the coming,” – it points to the birth of the child on Christmas – and has the same root as the word adventure.

One of those with adventurous ideas about the meaning of advent was Captain Thomas Coram, who opened a refuge for abandoned children in London in 1739. His work continues today at the Coram Family, a leading children’s charity. Coram’s outreach to orphans caught the imagination of his friend Hogarth, who donated paintings, and Handel, who donated concerts and a copy of his Messiah. Other artists followed suit, creating the first British art gallery at Coram's home for boys, which, in a marvellous and purposeful chain of events, became the catalyst for the Royal Academy.

In many parts of this site we mention the contributions made by individual Brits, away from the dead hand of government. We will be looking at this brilliant idea more closely.