Online: Knight Errant of the Distressed: Horace Walpole’s Philanthropy in Eighteenth-Century London

Image at top showing the arms of the Foundling Hospital in London in black against a blue-gray background, below it are the words "Knight Errant of the Distressed" in gothic font, followed by Horace Walpole’s Philanthropy in Eighteenth-Century London in italics

Thursday, May 5, 2022 - 9:00am to Monday, June 30, 2025 - 12:00am
Open to: 
Was Horace Walpole really a “miser,” as William Hazlitt claimed? 
This online exhibition uses images, manuscripts, artefacts and extracts from publications and correspondence to situate Walpole within the burgeoning philanthropic culture of his age. It reveals Walpole’s secret giving to prisoners and other good causes and examines the principles that underlay his philanthropy. A main aim of the exhibition is to stimulate discussion about philanthropy today. Walpole wrote that “if it ever is justifiable to good sense to act romantically, it is by being the knights errant of the distressed.” The exhibition  unravels contradictions in Walpole’s approach to philanthropy, illuminates the importance of charitable giving in the eighteenth century, and opens up for the first time this most intimate, often hidden, aspect of Walpole’s life.