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past Events 2012

Children’s Christmas Party
Saturday 15 December, 11am-1pm

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



London Shh... Christmas Carol Concert
LOCATION: John Wesley's Chapel, 49 City Road, London EC1Y 1AU
Thursday 13 December, 6.15pm

The Medici choir performed a repertoire of favourite Christmas carols and festive pieces at Wesley’s Chapel. The programme, introduced by a short ecumenical service, included Handel's Largo, Mozart’s Kyrie: Mass in C minor, pieces from Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and a selection of well-known Christmas hymns and sing-along carols. Proceeds from the concert supported the London Shh (small historic houses) group.

Christmas Door

Annual Friends and Neighbours Christmas Party
Wednesday 12 December, 6pm

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


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

Thursday 22 November, 7.30pm

An American Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings took place at London’s famed Butcher’s Hall. Roast turkey (and stuffing and vegetables and of course pumpkin pie) were 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.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Toy WOrkshop

18th Century Toy Workshop
Tuesday 30 October, 11am and 2pm

We discovered how Georgian children entertained themselves through long winters. Children explored the past and made 18th century toys, such as whirligigs and button pulls, optical illusions, and paper dolls!


Presidential Debate Logo

US Presidential Debate in association with the Eccles Centre for American Studies
LOCATION: British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Friday 19 October, 6.30pm-8pm

Just prior to the American Presidential election, we hosted a debate featuring representatives of
Republicans Abroad and Democrats Abroad on the best person to lead the United States in the years
ahead. The debate was moderated by Sir Robert Worcester, Founder of MORI (Market and Opinion
Research International).

Annual Symposium in association with the Eccles Centre for American Studies: Chasing Venus by Andrea Wulf
LOCATION: Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Monday 24 September, 6.30pm

Award-winning author Andrea Wulf told the extraordinary story of the first global scientific collaboration set amid warring armies, hurricanes, scientific endeavour, and personal tragedy. Andrea revealed the spirit of the Enlightenment and man’s quest to understand the world.

Download the poster here

Andrea Wulf

Open House Weekend

Open House London Weekend
Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September

Open House London 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.


Poor Richard’s Lament Book Reading
Monday 10 September, 1-2pm

Tom Fitzgerald read excerpts from his Poor Richard’s Lament: A most timely tale, in which
Franklin returns to present day America. Revelation and redemption are intricately woven in this imaginative piece of fiction.


Poor Richard's Lament Book Cover

Georgian Home

National Family Week: Georgian Homes
Tuesday 28 August, 11am and 2pm

Benjamin Franklin House was built circa 1730. How are our homes different today? We found out in a fun session for kids big and small, during which everyone helped to build a street of 3D, model Georgian terraces like 36 Craven Street.

London Shh...Summer Garden Party
Thursday 23 August, 6-8.30pm
Location: Keats House, 10 Keats Grove, Hampstead, London NW3 2RR

We enjoyed a late summer soiree in the garden of an English poet: an evening of poetry and romance in Keats’ secret garden in the company of London’s Small Historic Houses.


Children's Summer Fete – Print This!
Tuesday 21 August, 11am-2pm

Benjamin Franklin House hosted the second annual Summer Fete, in collaboration with special guests from the world of heritage. Activities included Print This! – a workshop for all the family exploring Franklin’s contribution to printing, which allowed participants to print their own message, picture, or sign using everyday objects.

Printing Workshop

Franklin's Armonica

A Musical Evening: Franklin's Glass Armonica
Monday 6 August, 6.30pm

In 1762, Franklin premiered his new musical invention, the glass armonica which had been devised a year earlier 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. House Operations Manager, Sally James, talked about the fascinating history of the glass armonica and performed excerpts from pieces written for the instrument.

Self-Made Man

Benjamin Franklin: The Making of a Self-Made Man
Monday 30 July, 12pm

In the two centuries since his death in 1790, Benjamin Franklin has emerged as the epitome of a cherished ideal: the self-made man. In this lunchtime lecture, historian Richard Bell revealed how Franklin’s vaunted independence and extraordinary upward social mobility was actually the work of many hands, not merely his own.


Festival of British Archaeology
Tuesday 24 July, 11am-1pm

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. Led by House Education Manager, Stephen Wilson.


Lady Reid Lecture – Franklin and Joseph Priestley
Monday 23 July, 12pm

Joseph Priestley, English theologian and scientist, is best known for ‘discovering’ oxygen, however his ideas in areas like education, history, and human progress influenced many US founding fathers – including Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams – as House historian and Franklin scholar Lady Joan Reid revealed.

Joseph Priestly

Fulbright Lecture: Benjamin Franklin, Karl Marx and the Romani
Monday 16 July, 12pm

What connects Franklin, Marx and the Romani?  The Founding Fathers led a successful ‘revolution’ and Benjamin Franklin has been described by some historians as part of the intellectual tradition of thinkers who influenced the development of Marxism. Ethel Brooks, 2011-2012 US-UK Fulbright Distinguished Chair, discussed Karl Marx’s use of Franklin’s ideas in his Economic and Political Manuscripts – with relation to Roma, and particularly, Romani practices.

Independence Day Party
Wednesday 4 July, 12-2pm

We celebrated Independence Day at Benjamin Franklin House with a lunchtime reception. Guests enjoyed cake and a glass of bubbly in the world’s only remaining Franklin home. Sponsored by Konditor & Cook.

4th of July

The American Enlightenment from Franklin to the Reverend Martin Luther King
Monday 18 June, 12pm

In 1787, fifty-five men constructed the United States out of Enlightenment ideas propounded by Benjamin Franklin and others like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Locke, and Adam Smith. Following in their footsteps, individuals such as Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King have refined these ideas without abandoning them. Scott Varland, American lawyer and author, explored the trajectory of American democratic thought.

Franklin and Luther

US Flag

Robert H. Smith Annual Lecture in American Democracy in association with the Eccles Centre for American Studies
LOCATION: British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Monday 21 May, 6.30pm

2012 speaker, distinguished diplomat Lord Hannay of Chiswick, former Minister at the British Embassy in Washington and former British Ambassador to the United Nations, discussed ‘Some Thoughts on the Diplomacy of a Great Democracy by an Outside Observer.’ This annual lecture honours American business leader and philanthropist, Robert H. Smith, a key supporter of Benjamin Franklin House, who was passionate about the roots and reach of American democracy.

Museums and Galleries at Night – Late Night Historical Experience
Saturday 19 May, 6pm and 7pm

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


House brick work

International Museums Day – Museums in a changing world
Friday 18 May at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3.15pm and 4.15pm

New challenges and inspiration was the theme for International Museum Day 2012. To honour the day, we offered 2 for 1 tickets to see our Historical Experience, which presents history in a new way – using drama and technology to make real Franklin’s life and times in his only surviving home.

Annual Science Day
LOCATION: The Salvation Army Regent Hall, 275 Oxford Street, London W1C 2DJ

Thursday 10 May, 10.30am

School childrentook part in fun and informative sessions which highlighted what became of Franklin’s most important investigations. Special guests captured the children’s attention with experiments that pop, illuminate, and crackle, showing how Franklin’s 18th century explorations led to some of today’s most important technologies.

Science Day 2011

Young Supporters Logo

Young Supporters Debate with David Davis MP
Wednesday 2 May, 7-8pm

The Young Supporters of Benjamin Franklin House, dedicated to promoting the House and its offerings to young professionals, hosted a debate on civil liberties with special guest David Davis, a Conservative MP, former Shadow Home Secretary, and staunch defender of civil liberties. The evening featured drinks and stimulating discussion. Sponsored by Jameson.

The Strange Life – and Even Stranger After Life – of the Reverend Dr William Dodd
Monday 30 April, 12pm

William Dodd, popular curate and chaplain to King George III, was sentenced to hang for forgery in 1777. Dodd hoped surgeon and anatomist John Hunter could save him. Hunter's brother, William, was mentor of anatomist William Hewson, son-in-law of Franklin’s Craven Street landlady. Wendy Moore, author of The Knife Man and Wedlock, revealed what became of the ill-fated Reverend Dr Dodd.



Lady Reid Lecture - Franklin and the Artists
Monday 23 April, 6pm

Franklin’s likeness was painted and etched many times during his lifetime, and he consequentlydeveloped friendships with a number of artists. Lady Joan Reid, House historian and Franklin scholar, highlighted some of these ties against the important backdrop of 18th century portraiture.

Easter Week Children’s Days: Georgian Games
Tuesday 3 April and Tuesday 10 April, 11am-1pm

In this Olympic year, children will took part in 18th century games that no doubt delighted children on Craven Street in years past, including quoits, marbles, stringed cat’s cradles, and cup-and-ball.


Lady Reid Lecture -
Franklin and Thomas Paine

Monday 27 February, 12pm

Thomas Paine was one of the most inspirational and challenging characters who enjoyed Benjamin Franklin’s patronage. House historian and Franklin scholar, Lady Joan Reid, explained some of the issues – and motives – behind their association.

Tom Paine

Ben Franklin

Strandlives Lecture Series: Benjamin Franklin at Craven Street , 1757-1775
Thursday 26 January, 6.15pm-7.30pm

Location: Anatomy Lecture Theatre, K6.29, Strand Campus, King's College London, WC2R 2LS

A lecture by Lady Joan Reid. An illustrated introduction to Franklin’s life amongst other mid-eighteenth century Enlightenment figures, and an exploration of the issues that led to the split between the American Colonies and the Mother Country. Supported by King's Annual Fund. Read more about Strandlines here

Franklin Hat

House 6th and Franklin 306th Birthday Celebration
Tuesday 17 January, 6pm-8pm

We celebrated Benjamin Franklin’s 306th birthday and the 6th anniversary of the opening of Benjamin Franklin House to the public as a dynamic museum and educational facility. We were joined by supporters and friends, with cake and bubbly served to all.