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past Events 2015

Family Day: Children's Christmas Party

Saturday 12 December

With Christmas just around the corner, children discovered the magic of the holiday – 18th century style – with crafts and treats. They sang along to festive classics such as ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ with accompaniment on the glass armonica, Franklin’s musical instrument. Children enjoyed mince pies and decked the halls with a Christmas wreath to make and take home!

Annual Friends and Neighbours Christmas Party

Wednesday 9 December

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

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thursday 26 November

An American Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings took place at magnificent Clothworkers’ Hall. Roast turkey (and stuffing, vegetables, and of course pumpkin pie) were a highlight. 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.

Museums at Night - Craven Street Bones

Friday, 30 October

In 1997, a chance discovery during conservation sparked an investigation at Benjamin Franklin House: how did human skeletal remains of up to 10 individuals come to be buried under the basement floor? Operations Manager, Braena Sykes,  explored the answer to this question and reveal the darker side of the 18th century’s pursuit of knowledge.

Family Day: Hallowe’en at Benjamin Franklin House

Tuesday, 27 October

Children were entertained by 18th century scary stories told by Polly Hewson, and ghastly games including Bobbing for Apples and Pin the Spider on the Web.

Annual Symposium in association with the Eccles Centre

 Making Room: New York and London, Cities in Crisis

Monday, 28 September

 Arguably the capitals of the world, New York and London, share great wealth and power. However at their heart they have some real challenges, including unaffordable housing and infrastructure not suited for modern life. Award-winning architect John McAslan of John McAslan + Partners adressed the housing crises in both cities and suggested a template for change.

Open House London

Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September

 Open House London is the capital’s largest annual festival of architecture and design. This annual event allows the public to cross the threshold of some of London’s most interesting buildings, including Grade I listed, 1730s Benjamin Franklin House. Half-hourly guided tours will take place throughout the day.

 Free – half-hourly tours run on a first come first served basis

The Kite and Key

Wednesday, 9 September

 Education Manager, Stephen Wilson, delivered a lecture and live demonstration exploring the science and speculation behind Franklins infamous and much-mythologised kite and key experiment, said to have been conducted to prove that lightning is an electrical phenomenon.


Family Day: Big Ben Stamp Act

Tuesday, 25 August

In honour of his role as the first Postmaster General of the US Postal Service and his many other achievements in science, innovation, and diplomacy, Benjamin Franklin has often featured on postage stamps around the world. Children enjoyed a tour of Benjamin Franklin House in the company of Polly Hewson, daughter of Franklin’s landlady. They then created their own stamp postcard to Polly to share highlights of their summer adventures.

Franklin’s Fables

Tuesdays, 11 and 18 August

Benjamin Franklin inspired many a tall tale during his life and in the years since.  In this drop-in storytelling session for under 7s, children enjoyed fantastic fables about the remarkable man, including the story of Amos, Franklin’s pet mouse, who may have contributed to his best ideas.

Family Day: Children’s Summer Fete – Print This!

Saturday, 1 August

Leighton House Museum

Our annual Summer Fete, in collaboration with special guests from the world of heritage, included activities such as Print This, a workshop for all the family exploring Franklin’s contribution to printing, which allowed participants to print their own creation using everyday objects. The Fete was held in the lovely gardens of Leighton House Museum.

Concordia Concert

Thursday, 30 July

We hosted an 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. Many guests joined us for a programme of music for flute and harp.

Family Day: Festival of British Archaeology – Bones in the Basement

Tuesday, 28 July          

As part of the Festival of British Archaeology, 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

Friday, 3 July

Nearly 60 guests joined us for a celebration of Independence Day at Benjamin Franklin House. Visitors enjoyed cake and a glass of bubbly in the world’s only remaining Franklin home. As a founder of the United States, Franklin was the only statesman to have signed all four documents that created a new nation, including The Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris, and The Constitution. The first of these was signed on July 4, 1776, now an annual US holiday.

Robert H. Smith Lecture in association with the Eccles Centre for American Studies: 

 Magna Carta's American Adventure - Professor A. E. Dick Howard

Monday, 1 June

Professor A. E. Dick Howard spoke on the influence of Magna Carta on constitutionalism in America as part of the Magna Carta 800 year commemorations. This lecture was presented in association with the British Library and the US Embassy. Professor Howard teaches Law and Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.

 Listen to Magna Carta's American Adventure audio

Family Day: National Family Week - Georgian Homes

Tuesday, 26 May

Benjamin Franklin House was built circa 1730. As part of National Family Week, children explored how our homes are different today in this fun session, during which participants helped build a street of 3D, model Georgian terraces like 36 Craven Street.

Put your stamp on it: Ben Franklin and a Dreaded Act, 250 years on

Wednesday, 20 May

Benjamin Franklin House Director, Dr. Márcia Balisciano, showed that while Franklin did not initially realise the furore the Stamp Act would cause, he played an important part in its repeal.  Looking back on it today, she argued it was a catalyst for the eventual American Revolution.

Listen to Put Your Stamp on it: Ben Franklin and a Dreaded Act audio

Museums at Night – ‘Candle Lit’ Architectural Tours

Thursday 14 & Friday 15  May

The atmospheric rooms of Benjamin Franklin’s only remaining residence were the feature of this night-time architectural tour, highlighting the original features of our Grade I listed House.

Franklin the Abolitionist

 Monday 11 May, 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.

Listen the Franklin the Abolitionist audio


Private Spheres: Gendered Spaces in the Eighteenth Century House

Monday, 20 April

Using Benjamin Franklin House as a case-study, Front of House and Marketing Supervisor, Tara Sutin, delivered a talk about the gendering of private spaces in the eighteenth century home. Following, guests took a gender-focused tour of the building. Guests were then invited to draw their own conclusions by examining the correspondence between Franklin and his eighteenth century family at 36 Craven Street.

Listen to Private Spheres: Gendered Spaces in the Eighteenth Century House audio

Family Day: Go Fly a Kite!

Tuesday, 7  &  14 April

Ben Franklin infamously flew a kite in a storm to prove that lightning was caused by electricity. Children learned about the science of kite-flying and apply this to designing and built their own kite to take home. 

Annual Fulbright Lecture: Professor William Hodapp on Benjamin Franklin, Liberal Learning, and the Foundation of Higher Education in the West

Monday, 30 March

2015 Fulbright Scholar, Professor William Hodapp, gave a lecture at Benjamin Franklin House where he  traced the development of liberal learning in the West, explored Franklin’s impact on higher education in Colonial America, and reflected on the current role and value of a western liberal education. Professor Hodapp teaches English at the College of St. Scholastica, and is a visiting scholar at Durham University.

Listen to Professor William Hodapp on Benjamin Franklin, Liberal Learning, and the Foundation of Higher Education in the West audio


Family Day: Float Ben’s Boat!

Tuesday, 17 February

Benjamin Franklin crossed the Atlantic Ocean eight times in his life, charted the Gulf Stream, and investigated canals. He was clearly a man who loved the sea, and as a child wanted to work on a ship. Using the materials provided, children constructed a model boat Franklin would have been proud to sail – one that can stay afloat and hold as much weight as possible!

House 9th and Franklin 309th Birthday Celebration

Friday, 16 January

A celebration of Benjamin Franklin’s 309th birthday and the 9th anniversary of the opening of Benjamin Franklin House to the public as a dynamic museum and educational facility. It was a celebration attended by supporters and friends, with cake and bubbly for all.


Happy 309th Birthday, Ben!