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past Events 2013

Children’s Christmas Party
Saturday 14 December, 11am

With Christmas just around the corner, children discovered the magic of the holiday – 18th century style – with crafts and treats. We sang along to festive classics such as ’Silent Night’ and ’Jingle Bells’ with accompaniment on the Glass Armonica, Franklin’s musical instrument. In addition we enjoyed mince pies and made Christmas wreaths!

Snowman Christmas Card

Cranberries looking festive

Annual Friends and Neighbours Christmas Party
Wednesday 11 December, 6pm

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


Thanksgiving Dinner (SOLD OUT)
LOCATION: The Butchers' Hall, 87 Bartholomew Close, London EC1A 7EB

Thursday 28 November, 7.30pm

An American Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings took place at London’s famed Butchers' 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.


Toy WOrkshop

18th Century Toy Workshop
Tuesday 29 October, 11am

As the days started to get shorter and the nights draw in, we discovered how Georgian children entertained themselves through long winters. We explored the past and made 18th century toys, such as whirligigs, cup-and-ball, optical illusions, and paper dolls!

Lady Reid Lecture – Franklin and the Dissenters
Monday 7 October, 12pm

House historian, Lady Reid, concluded her 2013 lecture series with a thought provoking talk about Franklin and religion. Many of Franklin's London friends were dissenters from the state church's 39 Articles. Who were they, and how did they influence Franklin’s middle years? Lady Reid answered these questions and brought Franklin's contemporaries to life. .

Christchurch PA

Open House

Open House London Weekend
Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September, 10.30am-4pm

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. Half-hourly guided tours took place throughout the day.

Annual Symposium in association with the Eccles Centre for American Studies: The Rediscovery of Wisdom
LOCATION: British Library, Eliot Room, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
Monday 9 September, 6.45pm

According to Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather and Technology Correspondent for The Spectator, “recent advances in the social sciences, Darwinian psychology and behavioural economics point to one conclusion: a lot of very clever dead people were right all along.” Rory’s starting point was Franklin’s maxim: “There are two ways of being happy: We must either diminish our wants or augment our means - either may is for each man to decide for himself and to do that which happens to be easier."

Rory Sutherland

Franklin and Armonica

A Musical Evening: Franklin's Glass Armonica
Monday 5 August, 6pm

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, spoke about the fascinating history of the glass armonica and performed short excerpts from pieces written for the instrument.

Festival of British Archaeology: Bones in the Basement
Saturday 27 July, 11am

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 Climate Change
Monday 15 July, 12pm

The term 'climate change' refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. This may include changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns. House scholar Lady Joan Reid discussed how Franklin's eighteenth century thinking touched on
climate change.

Independence Day Party (SOLD OUT!)
Thursday 4 July, 12-2pm

Thank you to all those who joined us for a lovely celebration of Independence Day at Benjamin Franklin House. Our guests enjoyed cake and a glass of bubbly in the world’s only remaining Franklin home.



Men Who Lost America Cover

The Men Who Lost America
Monday 1 July, 12pm

Author Andrew O’Shaughnessy discussed his new book about British command during the Revolutionary War. In 1781 the British Empire suffered its most humiliating defeat in a war they should have won. Blame has traditionally been cast at the feet of incompetent British military commanders and political leaders whose arrogant confidence and out-dated tactics were no match for the innovative and determined Americans. But this is far from the truth. Andrew O’Shaughnessy is the Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and Professor of History at the University of Virginia. See here for more details about the book, and purchase a copy here.

Annual Benjamin Franklin House Science Fair
Tuesday 25 June, 11am

Science Fair allows children to develop skills associated with scientific enquiry, helping them become autonomous thinkers and creative problem solvers. They are encouraged to develop their own responses to problems Franklin considered at Craven Street, such as how to get more heat from less fuel. Young
people created and displayed their own experiments at in-school Science Fairs, with winning entries going forward to this special gathering.

Science Fair


'Streets of London' – An Evening of Music and Poetry inspired by the Famous Residents of Craven Street, London
Friday 14 June, 6.30pm

The Concordia Foundation and Benjamin Franklin House presented the 'Streets of London'; a concert at the National Portrait Gallery followed by a reception at Benjamin Franklin House. This evening of music and poetry was inspired by the famous residents of Craven Street, London, including Benjamin Franklin, Herman Melville, and Heinrich Heine.

Lady Reid Lecture – Franklin and Medicine
Monday 3 June, 12pm

Lady Reid explored the connections between Franklin and medicine. He was an ardent supporter of inoculation, popularised bifocal spectacles, was one of the first to recognise the effects of lead poisoning, and invented a flexible catheter to assist those suffering from bladder stones.

Franklin and medicine

Georgian Homes

National Family Week: Georgian Homes
Tuesday 28 May, 11am

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


Museums at Night – Late Night Historical Experience
Saturday 18 May, 6pm and 7pm

Visitors enjoyed 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. This event was part of the annual Museums at Night: The festival of inspiring after hours cultural events in museums, galleries, and heritage sites.

Museums at Night

US Flag

Robert H. Smith Lecture in association with the Eccles Centre for American Studies: Wise Up America! A Friendly Word from a Foreigner
LOCATION: British Library Conference Centre, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
Friday 10 May, 6.30pm

BBC journalist Justin Webb focused on his view of America's problems and how they might be fixed. He set his remarks within the context of the US and the UK in the modern era. Justin Webb is a presenter of the Today Programme and was the BBC’s chief Washington correspondent between 2001 and 2009. The lecture honoured American philanthropist, Robert H. Smith, a key supporter of Benjamin Franklin House, who was passionate about the roots and reach of American democracy.

Annual Science Day
LOCATION: Central London venue to be confirmed
Wednesday 8 May, 10.30am

School children took 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 have led to some of today’s most important technologies.

Bryson Gore

Mrs Leitch

Lecture: The Thatched House Petition
Wednesday 24 April, 12pm

Catherine Leitch, author of “Discovering American History in England” gave a talk on the Thatched House Petition, signed in March 1774 by 29 American colonials who lived in London at the time, including Benjamin Franklin. It was sent to King George III to protest the Coercive Acts being considered by Parliament as a response to the Boston Tea Party. The stories of these men and what happened to them illustrated the varied web of relationships American colonials had with England.

Gin-Lane Gazette Cover

The Gin-Lane Gazette
Monday 15 April, 12pm

Gin-Lane Gazette is a new illustrated compendium of true stories from an 18th century epoch of frequent excess.  Author and cartoonist, Adrian Teal, brought to life a world of panache and bawdiness. Franklin made an appearance in some of the tales!


Lecture by Wendy Moore: How to Create the Perfect Wife
Wednesday 3 April, 12pm

Author Wendy Moore told the eighteenth century story of how Thomas Day, a young man of means, decided he could never marry a woman with brains, spirit, or fortune. Instead, he adopted two orphan girls from the Foundling Hospital, and set about educating them to become marriage material. Unsurprisingly, Day's plans did not run smoothly. Scientists and luminaries will feature including Franklin’s friends Erasmus Darwin and Joseph Priestley. Moore highlighted a moment when ideals about human development and child raising underwent radical change.

Wendy Moore Book Cover


Easter Week Children’s Days: Georgian Games
Tuesday 2 April and Tuesday 9 April, 11am

Children took part in 18th century games that no doubt delighted young people on Craven Street in years past, including quoits, marbles, stringed cat’s cradles, and cup-and-ball.

National Science and Engineering Week
Tuesday 12 March, 10.30am and 1pm

‘Invention and discovery’ was the theme of 2013 National Science and Engineering Week. Franklin's scientific endeavours resulted in exciting new knowledge about the true nature of electricity, the precise path of the Gulf Stream, the relationship between a canal's depth and the speed of barges, and much more. Students from TASIS recreated one of Franklin's investigations by experiencing an indoor lightning storm and learning about the invention of the lightning rod.


House 7th and Franklin 307th Birthday Celebration
Thursday 17 January, 6pm-8pm

We celebrated Benjamin Franklin’s 307th birthday and the 7th anniversary of the opening of Benjamin Franklin House to the public as a dynamic museum and educational facility. Supporters and friends joined us for cake and bubbly.

Frankin bday