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past Events 2008


Bands at Bens

Saturday, 6 December, 7pm

Tickets £8/ £5 Friends & concessions

Acoustic music from indie groups The Melting Ice Caps and First Black Precedent.

The Franklin Cabaret

Friday, 12 December, 7pm

Tickets £10/ £6 Friends & concessions (includes a glass of wine)

Benjamin Franklin House actress Kathryn Sharrat will perform Franklin-inspired cabaret from both sides of the Atlantic. 

Craven Street Lecture

Benjamin Franklin and Espionage

4 December 2008, 6.30pm

£5, £3 concessionary rate

The last quarter of the 18th century was a turbulent time – the American War of Independence and the French Revolution in particular exacerbated international tensions. Tales of espionage were common throughout the western world, and countless prominent figures were accused, at one time or another, of spying for other nations - including Franklin himself. Was there some truth behind any of these accusations…? The UK’s foremost Franklin expert and Benjamin Franklin House trustee, Lady Joan Reid, investigates!
£5/£3 Friends & concessions


Monday Lecture Series

“A Day Without Dissection is a Day Wasted”:
Surgery in the 18th Century

Monday 13th October, 6pm

The eighteenth century saw a variety of changes in surgery, in particular a move from traditional training by apprenticeship to the foundation of hospital and private anatomy schools, such as Hewson’s. Despite the advances in anatomical understanding made by dissection, however, in an era before anaesthetics, surgery could still be a brutal and bloody affair…

£5/£3, not recommended for under 12s

Surgeons’ Lives

Monday 20th October, 6:30pm

Sally Frampton, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL

The lives of surgeons in the late nineteenth century - the era of such elite surgeons as Joseph Lister, James Paget, Frederick Treves and Victor Horsley - could differ greatly from Hewson’s time. Following the Anatomy Act of 1832, anatomical research and experimentation in the hospital led to further advances in surgery: the nineteenth century saw the introduction and gradual acceptance of anaesthesia and antisepsis – followed by abdominal and brain surgery. Surgeons were also increasingly accorded much wider respect, which impacted both the way they worked, and their social lives.

£5/£3, not recommended for children

William Hewson and the Craven Street Bones

Monday 27th October, 6pm

Tania Kausmally, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL

Born in Northumberland in 1739, Hewson received medical training in Newcastle-upon-Tyne before departing for London, where he attended William Hunter’s renowned anatomy school, as well as the hospital schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’. He became assistant and partner at Hunter’s school, before setting up his school at Craven Street in 1772. Hewson’s short-lived school provides a well defined snapshot of anatomical teaching prior to the Anatomy Act of 1832 when, without a legitimate source of corpses, surgeons had no choice but to turn to the infamous Bodysnatcher for supply.

£5/£3, not recommended for children

Medical London Day, Saturday 18th October

Blood, Bones & Bodies: Children’s activitieschild with skull
10:30am – 12pm

How did people in the past discover the body under the skin? Find out about important anatomists, like William Hewson, who helped us to understand how the human body works, through a series of hands-on activities: build your own skeleton, play dressing up and puzzle games, and much, much more!

FREE activities, aimed at 5-11 year olds

“A Day Without Dissection is a Day Wasted”:
Surgery in the 18th Century (adult talk)
11am – 12pm

The eighteenth century saw a variety of changes in surgery, in particular a move from traditional training by apprenticeship to the foundation of hospital and private anatomy schools, such as Hewson’s. Despite the advances in anatomical understanding made by dissection, however, in an era before anaesthetics, surgery could still be a brutal and bloody affair…

£5/£3, not recommended for under 12s

democrats and republicans abroadUS Presidential Debate in Association with the Eccles Centre

Between the Chairs of Republicans Abroad and Democrats Abroad; Sir Robert Worcester, founder of MORI, to moderate.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008, 7pm

£8; £5 Friends and concessions (at Conference Centre, British Library)


Open Rehearsal

From 26-28 October Benjamin Franklin House helped to celebrate the launch of the Cultural Olympiad by taking part in Open Rehearsal. Visitors got the opportunity to speak to 'Polly' backstage after the Historical Experience Show.

Polly speaks to the public

Benjamin Franklin House Annual Symposium in Association with the Eccles Centrerichard horton

Featuring Dr. Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet, the world's number one global medical journal.  Dr. Horton is the 2007 winner of the Edinburgh Medal and will speak on Benjamin Franklin and the Globalisation of Science; tickets include reception.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008, 6:30pm - 20.30pm

£8; £5 Friends and concessions (at Conference Centre , British Library)

Dr. Richard Horton qualified in medicine from the University of Birmingham. In 1990, he joined The Lancet as an assistant editor and became Editor-in-Chief in 1995.  He was the first President of the World Association of Medical Editors and is an honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University College London, and the University of Edinburgh. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and a Founder Fellow of the UK’s Academy of Medical Sciences.  He co-chairs a WHO Scientific Advisory Group on Clinical Trials Registration and is a Council Member of the Global Forum for Health Research.

In 2007, he received the Edinburgh Medal for professional achievements judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding of human health and wellbeing.  He has been a medical columnist for The Observer and writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and New York Review of Books. He published a book about controversies in modern medicine, Second Opinion, in 2003.

Benjamin Franklin and his Female Relationships

franklin and women

An Insight into Franklin’s Female Relationships whilst here in London. Given by Lady Reid, one of Britain’s foremost Franklin Scholars.

Throughout his life, Benjamin Franklin forged extremely close and long-lasting relationships with many of his female friends. In London, his landlady’s daughter Polly Stevenson (later Hewson) became a second daughter to Franklin, and a sounding-board for many of his intellectual ideas. Long letters exchanged by the pair show a mutual interest in scientific discovery, and a life-long friendship saw Polly join Franklin’s own daughter, Sally, at his deathbed. Sometimes flirtatious, frequently witty, and always engaging, Franklin’s letters to his female friends provide a comprehensive picture of the many facets of this fascinating man.

(£5 standard, £3 concession. To book, call 020 7839 2006)

Thursday, 24 September  2008, 6.30pm

Benjamin Franklin House

Meet Mrs Polly Hewson - Summer Holiday Family Days Polly

Every Tuesday in August & September 2008, 11:30am & 2:30pm

Kids go FREE! Adults only £3.50 each. All children must be accompanied.

Discover what life was like in Georgian England by meeting Mrs Polly Hewson, the daughter of Franklin’s landlady, who will guide you around the House, built 1730. Learn about everyday life in the 18th century, as well as the extraordinary story of Benjamin Franklin himself. There will also be the opportunity to follow in Franklin’s footsteps as a scientist, re-creating one of his most famous experiments, a fearsome display of the awesome power of lightning!

World Architecture Day at Benjamin Franklin HouseBFH Exterior

Benjamin Franklin House is celebrating World Architecture Day on the 6th of October 2008.

Throughout the day, we will be hosting detailed tours of one of London’s heritage gems and the efforts that have been employed to conserve its Grade I status.

The house is the sole surviving residence of Benjamin Franklin; scientist, inventor and one of the greatest  political figures of the 18th century.

Tours run at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm.

Entry: £3.50, free for children under 14.

National Archaeology Week at Benjamin Franklin House

child with skullTuesday, 15th July, 2.30pm – 6.30pm FREE

Numerous families participated in this fun-packed archaeology-related open day, A Midden Of Mystery, which was recommended by Time Out critics. Participants had the unique chance to take on the role of archaeologists and used their powers of detection to uncover more about the rich history of the house and its inhabitants.

National Archaeology Week is a national event which aims to encourage young people and families to explore the archaeological heritage of the United Kingdom. In line with the ethos of the house, this event aimed to satisfy scientific curiosity and enhance historical knowledge in an accessible and exciting way.

National Children’s Art Day

Tuesday, 1 July, 2008

Children’s Art Day encourages and inspires children to engage with art in museums.  Students will learn about 18th century portraiture in Benjamin Franklin's only remaining home and create their own works based on Georgian designs, using Franklin as a muse.  This family event is free of charge and suitable for children aged 5 to 11.   

National Design and Technology Week

Monday, 23 June until Sunday, 29 June 2008

Benjamin Franklin House is helping celebrate the UK's seventh annual Design and Technology Week, which celebrate pupils’ achievements in design and technology.  One key feature is presenting exhibitions of student work and, accordingly, Benjamin Franklin House will be showcasing student art inspired by the creative inventor, Benjamin Franklin, in our Grade I building.  Working with partner schools, we have provided all necessary materials and guidance.  Students will receive certificates and their paintings will be on exhibit throughout the summer.

american flag4 July 2008

Fourth of July cake and bubbly

Friday, 4 July 2008

Tickets £8, £5 Friends and concessions

Craven Street Lecture

An Apple A Day: Benjamin Franklin and Medicine

With Lady Joan Reid, the UK’s foremost Franklin authority

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Tickets £5 standard; £3 Friends and concessions

concordia logo

29 May 2008, 6pm - 18th Century Soiree in association with the Concordia Foundation. Concordia's talented young performers, at the start of their professional careers, will entertain with period music; tickets are £30 and include a reception (at Benjamin Franklin House)


uncommonplace21, 22 and 28 May 2008, 6-8pm - ‘Uncommon Place,’ a dynamic art installation featuring the work of Michael De Guzman and other artists; free entry (at Benjamin Franklin House)




Benjamin Franklin House Annual RSA Lecture: Heritage and Learning Beyond the Classroom

Barry Sheerman MP, Chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families, was guest speaker for the first Benjamin Franklin House-RSA Lecture in celebration of Franklin's 302nd birthday on 17 January 2008 - the start of the House's third year as a dynamic museum and educational facility.  The Royal Society of Arts was a fitting location given Franklin's membership and service to the organisation during his many years in London.

Barry, a member of Parliament since 1979, is Chair of the House of Commons committee that considers policy to improve education services and childcare in schools, colleges, and the care sector.  His theme was the importance of engaging young people with cultural heritage, in particular, the benefits for citizenship when we make the experience of key historical figures relevant to young people today. 

He has long been a fan of Benjamin Franklin and highlighted Franklin’s legacy of harnessing personal curiosity and responsibility for a greater good: whether investigating the nature of lightning and distilling his discoveries into the life and property-saving lightning rod or fostering civic institutions like schools, hospitals, and libraries.  This is a legacy, he said, that can inspire young people.

In his career, first as the head of an American studies department at a Welsh university, and then as a Parliamentarian interacting with teachers and other educational experts, Barry stated he discovered that learning outside the classroom is where real learning can take place.  He cited the educational offerings at Benjamin Franklin House as an example of a fresh approach to public education through the Historical Experience and Student Science Centre, which melds the great heritage of the site with the timeless character of the man who called it home for nearly 16 years.

Barry referenced the project he is leading to similarly spur awareness of an intriguing figure from the past through his historic former home: British environmental poet, John Clare's former cottage in Helpston, England, located in Barry's district.  His John Clare Education and Environment Trust is working to conserve the 18th century building and create an international environmental educational centre which shares Clare's respect for the environment with young people and adults.

Benjamin Franklin House Director, Marcia Balisciano, chair of the session, recognised Barry's important message with a quote: "As the historian Karl Weintraub noted, 'I doubt that the study of history provides us with simple lessons.  Its promise is less in easy lessons than in the hope of understanding and wisdom about human affairs.  It can curb our egocentrism, and perhaps it endows us with an essential sense of proportion.  …Our humanity is in its essence historical…we cultivate our humanity when we cultivate our historical sense and consciousness.'”

Listen to the Podcast

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