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past Events 2011


Kid's Christmas Party

Children's Christmas Party
Saturday 17 December, 11am-2pm

With Christmas just around the corner, children discovered the magic of the holiday 18th century style with traditional carols, crafts and treats.

Annual Friends and Neighbours Christmas Party
Tuesday 13 December, 6pm

We celebrated the festive season with our Craven Street friends and neighbours.  In the great British holiday tradition, all enjoyed a mince pie and a glass or two of homemade mulled wine!


Christmas Berries

Thanksgiving Dinner



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Thanksgiving Dinner (Now Sold Out)
Thursday 24 November, 7.30pm

LOCATION: The Butcher’s Hall, 87 Bartholomew Close, London EC1A 7EB

Guests enjoyed an American Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings e at London’s famed Butcher’s Hall.  Roast turkey (and stuffing and vegetables and of course pumpkin pie) were all highlights.  Franklin, in addition to suggesting the turkey become one of America’s national symbols, practised cooking it as part of his early work on electricity.


Black History Month: Franklin the Abolitionist
Monday 31 October, 1pm

How did a man who once owned slaves become, in his last public role, President of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery?  Franklin historian, Lady Joan Reid, explored Franklin’s evolving views on slavery from acceptance to abhorrence during his lifetime. 



Slavery Etching

Georgian Crafts
Tuesday 25 October, 11am and 2pm

As the days get shorter and the nights draw in, guests discovered how Georgian children entertained themselves through long winters. Families linked to the past and make 18th century toys, such as whirligigs and button pulls, stringed cat’s cradles, dolls and balls!

Craft Materials

Dr Steve Neishesl

From Subject to Citizen - The Political Transformation of Benjamin Franklin
Wednesday 12 October, 6.30pm

Franklin scholar Dr Steve Neiheisel of St. Mary’s University in Texas examine the transition in Franklin’s thinking about British politics and American independence during his time in London. He arrived a loyal British subject but departed a revolutionary republican.

Founding Gardeners Book Cover

Annual Symposium in association with the Eccles Centre for American Studies: Founding Gardeners by Andrea Wulf
Monday 19 September, 6.30pm

LOCATION: Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

This beautifully illustrated talk looked at the lives of the American founding fathers and how their attitude to plants, gardens, nature and agriculture shaped the American nation. Award-winning historian Andrea Wulf demonstrated how plants, politics and personalities intertwined as never before.

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London Open House Weekend
Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 September

London Open House Weekend celebrates the city’s incredible architecture.  This annual event invites the public to cross the threshold of some of London’s most interesting buildings, including Grade I, 1730s Benjamin Franklin House. Guided tours took place throughout the day.

Open House Weekend

‘Liberty and Common Values’ with Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty
Wednesday 7 September, 6.30pm

The Young Supporters of Benjamin Franklin House held a wonderful private discussion over whisky.

Children's Summer Fete - Print this!
Tuesday 9, 16 and 23 August, 11am - 2pm

Benjamin Franklin House hosted the first annual Summer Fete, in collaboration with special guests from the world of heritage. Activities included Print This! a workshop on the printing process. Fun for all the family was had learning about Franklin’s success as a printer: visitors printed their own messages, pictures and signs using everyday objects. 

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Ben Cartoon


A Musical Evening: 250 years of Franklin's Glass Armonica
Thursday 11 August, 6.30pm

We celebrated the 250th anniversary of Franklin’s glass armonica, the musical instrument he developed in 1761 at 36 Craven Street.  Ethereal sounds are produced from rotating glass bowls which inspired compositions by Mozart, Beethoven, (JC) Bach, and more recently rock musicians like Jarvis Cocker and Damian Albarn.


Festival of British Archaeology
Tuesday 26 July, 11am and 2pm

Children explored the House’s fascinating archaeological history. They discovered why human bones were found in the basement and the story they tell about the history of medicine.



Independence Day Party
Monday 4 July, 12pm-2pm

Guests joined us for a celebration of Independence Day at Benjamin Franklin House. We enjoyed cake and a glass of bubbly in the world’s only remaining Franklin home.

4th July Cake

The United States Constitution: Blueprint for a Republic
Monday 27 June, 12 noon

During the summer of 1787, fifty-five men, including Benjamin Franklin, convened near his Philadelphia home for the purpose of designing a government.  On September 17 of that year, they published their handiwork:  the four page United States Constitution.  What had they wrought?  Scott Varland, an American lawyer and author, spoke on the Enlightenment ideas that permeate the Constitution, as well as its ongoing centrality to American law and politics.



Lady Reid Lecture - Franklin the Spy
Wednesday 22 June, 1pm

Franklin: printer, publisher, politician, philosopher...spy?  House Franklin Scholar Lady Joan Reid considered whether Franklin engaged in espionage during his London sojourn and beyond.


Concordia Musical Soiree
Wednesday 8 June, 7.30pm

We hosted a musical evening in keeping with Franklin’s love of 18th century music in association with our Craven Street neighbours, the Concordia Foundation, which serves young musicians. The Karelia String Quartet performed in Franklin's Parlour at the House.

Concordia logo


National Family Week: Georgian Homes
Tuesday 31 May, 11am and 2pm

Benjamin Franklin House was built circa 1730.  How are our homes different today? Children found out in a fun session during which everyone's help was needed to build a street of 3D, model Georgian terraces like 36 Craven Street.



Benjamin Franklin House Etching


Dr David Allan Lecture: Franklin and the Shipleys
Monday 23 May, 12.30pm

Dr Allan, historian of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and Honorary President of the William Shipley Group for RSA History,  highlighted the friendship between Franklin and RSA Founder William Shipley and his family.  For over fifty years, Dr. Allan has lectured and written extensively on aspects of the Society’s history, including the Benjamin Franklin connection, and he remains involved in its affairs.

International Museums Day - Museums and Memory
Wednesday 18 May at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3.15pm and 4.15pm

Do you think museums capture and share memories?  In honour of International Museums Day, we asked all visitors this important question, and uploaded their responses to our website. Read more here.


US Flag

Robert H. Smith Annual Lecture in American Democracy
Monday 16 May, 6.30pm

LOCATION: Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Sir Christopher Meyer, former British Ambassador to the United States, drew on his background as a diplomat, public servant, and author, in delivering The Lessons of History at the first Robert H. Smith Lecture in American Democracy, in association with the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. American business leader and philanthropist Robert H. Smith, for whom the Benjamin Franklin House Scholarship Centre is named, exemplified Franklin’s belief in the importance of civic and personal responsibility.

Museums and Galleries at Night - Late Night Historical Experience
Saturday 14 May, 6.15pm and 7.15pm

Visitors enjoyed the celebrated Historical Experience at night – live interpretation and sound and visual projection revealed the uncertainty and excitement of Franklin’s London years in the great man's own words.


Science Day

Annual Science Day
Tuesday 10 May, 10am

NEW LOCATION: Westminster Cathedral Hall, 42 Francis St, London SW1P 1QW

School children took part in fun and informative sessions which highlighted what became of Franklin’s most important investigations.  Special guests including Bryson Gore, captured the children’s attention with experiments that popped, illuminated and crackled, showing how Franklin’s 18th century explorations led to some of today’s most important technologies.


Lady Reid Lecture - Franklin: From Printer to Author
Monday 18 April, 1pm

Benjamin Franklin was a master communicator.  His 18th century writings are clear and engaging and his lasting fame is due in part to the form and substance of his written words.  He was equally skilled as a printer from type and production, to marketing and distribution.  House historian, Lady Joan Reid, informed us why literary Franklin matters.


Easter Week Kids Days: Georgian Sports Day
Tuesday 12 and 19 April, 11am & 2pm

We Sprang into action at our Georgian Sports Days at Benjamin Franklin House! Children took part in 18th century games that would have delighted children on Craven Street including Blind Man's Bluff, marbles, and pass the thimble. The event was suitable for 6-11 year olds.



The Archive in a Global Age: Reflections on the Future of the Past
Thursday 3 March, 12pm

Joseph Heathcott is a writer, curator, photographer, and professor of urban studies at The New School in New York.  Currently he holds the U.S. Fulbright Distinguished Chair for the United Kingdom at the University of the Arts, and is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics.  His work considers the role of collective memory and creative expression as everyday civic practices that shape the contemporary metropolis. In this talk he began with some of Franklin’s thoughts on intellectual property.

National Science and Engineering Week
Saturday 19 March, 11am

Communication and light were our themes for 2011 National Science and Engineering Week.  Benjamin Franklin believed light can bounce off surfaces and act like a wave. 250 years later, this quality is what makes fibre optic technology, the essence of transatlantic communication, possible. In this light-hearted session for young and old, participants discovered Franklin's theories by directing a laser beam through a maze, and by making their own kaleidoscopes!



Thomas Paine in Lewes and London 1768-1774
Monday 28 February, 12pm

Benjamin Franklin's support was the key to Thomas Paine's success in America.  The radical's incendiary pamphlet Common Sense helped unify the American colonists and galvanise support for the War of Independence. During the war, Paine's 13 Crisis Papers were similarly influential and gave America enduring phrases like "These are the Times that Try Mens Souls...."  This talk by researcher Paul Myles included rare 18th century images of Paine, Lewes, and London.

House 5th and Franklin 305th Birthday Celebration
Monday 17 January, 7-9pm

On 17 January 2011, 7-9pm we hosted a reception to celebrate the 5th anniversary of opening the House to the public and Franklin’s 305th birthday. The House’s original 1875 ‘blue’ plaque was unveiled for the first time.

Ben Franklin