ews - 2013
Linking young people on both sides of the Atlantic
Weston Park Primary School in Haringey, London are linking with Public School 255 in Brooklyn, New York, through our Sister Schools programme. For approximately six weeks in June and July, over two hundred 10 and 11 year olds from both schools will experience a collaborative curriculum based on the inspiring life of Benjamin Franklin. Read more here.
To mark National Family Week, we held 'Georgian Homes' on Tuesday 28 May. Children and parents explored our 18th century building looking for clues about family life at 36 Craven Street, where Franklin lived “in serene comfort and affection” with his surrogate family Margaret and Polly Stevenson. Following, they created a terrace of Georgian cereal box houses inspired by 36 Craven Street!
Posted 30 May 2013
Lady Mary Bessborough
Lady Mary Bessborough was Benjamin Franklin’s House’s founding governor. She died on Saturday, 13 April 2013 at her home in Philadelphia and was 98.
She was born Mary Astor Munn to Charles A. Munn and his wife, Mary Astor Paul on 3 March 1915 in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Mary spent her early days there, but moved to Amado, her parent’s estate in Palm Beach, Florida, completed in 1920. It was a special place frequented by the leading lights of 1920s society. The family regularly visited Paris, and as a young woman, Mary lived there pursuing her talent as a still life painter. She served as a nurse in the American Red Cross during the Second World War. When she returned to Paris after the war she met and in 1948 married, Frederick Edward Ponsonby, Viscount Duncannon, later the 10th Earl of Bessborough, then working as second secretary at the French Embassy. Mary was now Countess of Bessborough. She gave birth to a daughter, Charlotte.
After they moved to London, the Earl of Bessborough introduced Mary to Benjamin Franklin House, for he had ties to the British Society for International Understanding, whose headquarters were at 36 Craven Street. By the late 1970s, the House, now empty, was becoming increasingly derelict and Mary set up the Friends of Benjamin Franklin House as the first step toward preserving the building. She was tireless in her dedication and enlisted the support of many, including Margaret Thatcher, who gave the building’s freehold to the charity. Mary’s great dream of a Benjamin Franklin House open to the public was realised on Franklin’s 300th birthday in January 2006. We have now welcomed over 60,000 visitors.
She is survived by her daughter Lady Charlotte Petsopoulos and two grandsons and two great-granddaughters. We will always be grateful to Mary’s passion for Franklin and his only surviving home.
Posted 19 April 2013
Benjamin Franklin Fellowship Debate Competition in association with the US Embassy London
On 5 March 2013, students from ten London schools (up from three in 2012!), including Burntwood School, Wilson's School, Ernest Bevin College, and Harrow High School, took part in the annual Benjamin Franklin Fellowship Debate Competition in association with the US Embassy London. They debated motions like 'This House believes that the Royal Family have a duty to remain politically neutral' and 'This House supports the recent United Nations resolution recognising the importance of universal coverage in national health systems.' The winner, James Heale from Kingston Grammar School, will take part in the Benjamin Franklin Summer Institute at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina this summer. He will join students from across the US and Europe. All participants will be invited to a summer reception at Benjamin Franklin House.
The winning team with the judges. From left to right: Bobby Adelson (Assistant Cultural Attaché, US Embassy), Luke Kosky (Wilson's School), Tim Sharpe (Wilson's School), Monique Quesada (Cultural Attaché, US Embassy), James Heale (Kingston Grammar School), Rob Hayes (Kingston Grammar School), Dr. Márcia Balisciano (Director, Benjamin Franklin House)
Posted 12 March 2013
Sir Bob Reid Award for School Science
Pupils from Coteford Junior School, winners of our 2012 Sir Bob Reid Award for School Science, have been busy creating Victorian toys such as jumping jacks, pop-up people, and balances, examples of which can be seen below. The school used the Award to purchase the necessary materials. The Award, honouring former House Chairman Sir Bob Reid, recognises excellence in integrating history and science in the classroom. For information about the 2013 Sir Bob Reid Award, please contact House Education Manager Stephen Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (207) 839 2013.
Posted 25 February 2013
BBC's The One Show
Benjamin Franklin House featured on BBC's The One Show on Wednesday 23 January 2013. The segment presented by Gyles Brandreth focused on the fascinating story of the Craven Street bones discovered at the House in 1998. Visit us to find out more about the bones and the history of the House!
Visit BBC iPlayer here to see the programme (our feature is in the last 10 minutes). It is available to watch online until 30 January 2013.
Posted 24 January 2013
In Conversation with Chris Dercon and Will Gompertz
Thank you to everyone who joined us on Monday 21 January for The Young Supporters' In Conversation debate with Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern and BBC's Will Gompertz. The stimulating debate focused on art and social change. Proceeds from ticket sales helped to advance our charitable objectives. Listen to a segment from the discussion below.
Posted 23 January 2013
House 7th and Franklin 307th Birthday Celebration
On 17 January 2013, we hosted a reception to celebrate the 7th anniversary of opening the House to the public and Franklin’s 307th birthday. Thank you to our Friends and supporters who joined us to celebrate.
Posted 18 January 2013