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past Events 2016

Family Day: Children’s Christmas Party

Saturday 10 December, 10.30am

With Christmas just around the corner, children will discover the magic of the holiday – 18th century style – with crafts and treats. Sing along to festive classics such as ’Silent Night’ and ’Jingle Bells’ with accompaniment on the glass armonica, Franklin’s musical instrument. Enjoy mince pies and deck the halls with Christmas crafts to make and take home! Suitable for 5-11 year olds.

Annual Friends and Neighbours Christmas Party

Thursday 8 December, 6.30pm

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

Thanksgiving Dinner

LOCATION: Clothworkers' Hall, Dunster Court, Mincing Lane, London EC3R 7AH

Thursday 24 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) will be 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.

Annual Symposium in association with the Eccles Centre:  30 Years of Bloomsbury

LOCATION: The British Library Conference Centre, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Monday 21 November

Nigel Newton, an entrepreneur and publisher like Benjamin Franklin, took us back over the thrills and spills - the key moments in the story of the publishing house he started 30 years ago.  Among Bloomsbury Publishing’s best known authors are J. K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books, Khaled Hosseini with The Kite Runner and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. 

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

Wednesday 16 November

Benjamin Franklin House Director, Dr. Márcia Balisciano, posed 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 that it was a catalyst for the eventual American Revolution.

Museums at Night - Craven Street Bones

Saturday 29 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?  Historian Braena Sykes explored the answer to this question and delved into the darker side of the 18th century’s pursuit of knowledge.

Presidential Debate

LOCATION The British Library Conference Centre Auditorium, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Friday 28 October

 Just prior to the American Presidential election, we hosted a debate featuring representatives of Republicans Overseas and Democrats Abroad on the best person to lead the United States in the years ahead. 

Family Day: Hallowe’en at Benjamin Franklin House

Tuesday 25 October

Children were entertained by 18th century scary stories told by Polly Hewson and ghastly games, including apple bobbing and pin-the-spider!

The Kite and Key

Monday 26 September

 Education Manager, Stephen Wilson, gave a lecture and live demonstration which explored the science and speculation behind Franklin’s infamous and much-mythologised ‘kite and key’ experiment, said to have been conducted to prove that lightning is an electrical phenomenon.

Listen to the Kite and Key audio.

Open House London

Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 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, 1730s Benjamin Franklin House. This year, we welcomed over 800 to the house for free guided tours.

Franklin and Climate Change

Monday 12 September

 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 explored Franklin's forward-thinking ideas about climate change.

Listen to the Franklin and Climate Change audio.


Family Day:  Faces of Franklin (and Friends)

Tuesday 23 & 30 August

Ben Franklin, like many of the most important figures in history, has been immortalised in sculptures such as the famous bust by Jean Houdon, on display in the Louvre in Paris. Children were invited to a free workshop and encouraged to create a variety of fun sculptures of Craven Street's most famous resident!

Family Day: Children’s Summer Fete

Location: Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Rd, London W14 8LZ

Saturday 6 August

 Our annual Summer Fete was organised in collaboration with special guests from the world of heritage, and included a wide range of activities for all the family. The Fete was held in the lovely gardens of Leighton House Museum.

Family Day:  Olde Time Olympics

Tuesdays 2 & 9 August

Whilst the 2016 Olympic Games were underway in Rio de Janeiro, we got on our starting blocks for some Olympic Games, Georgian style! Children had a go at tossing quoits and marbles, to compete for their very own Gold Medal!

Family Day: Festival of Archaeology

Tuesday 26 July

As part of the Festival of Archaeology, children were invited to explore 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. Suitable for 7-14 year olds.

Annual Science Fair

Thursday 7 July

At our annual Science Fair this year, children were encouraged to develop their own responses to problems Franklin considered at Craven Street, such as how to get more heat from less fuel. Their creations will be displayed at in-school science fairs with winning entries going forward to the end-of-year gathering were prizes will be awarded!

Independence Day Party

Monday 4 July

Guests celebrated Independence Day 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, an annual US holiday.

Franklin’s Singing Bowls: An Evening with the Glass Armonica

Monday 20 June

In 1762, Franklin premiered his new musical invention, the glass armonica which had been devised a year earlier at 36 Craven Street. Mallory Horrill, Front of House and Marketing Supervisor,  demonstrated how ethereal sounds are produced from rotating glass bowls which have inspired compositions by Mozart, Beethoven, (JC) Bach, and more recently, rock musicians like Jarvis Cocker and Damian Albarn.

Listen to the Franklin's Singing Bowls audio.

Family Day: Franklin In Frame

Tuesday 31 May

Ben Franklin, 18th century scientist, inventor, and US Founding Father, was fascinated by the natural world and it’s exploration. He investigated lightning and the Gulf Stream. He was intrigued by the Aurora Borealis and attended the first manned flight of the Montgolfier Brothers’ hot air balloon in 1783. At half-term, children were invited to help bring these historic scenes to life by creating mixed-media art, to be displayed at Benjamin Franklin House for a short-term exhibition before being returned to their creators!

2016 UK Robert H. Smith Lecture: The Intimate History of Democracy and Money in America

Tuesday 24 May

The American political system in 2016 is awash in billions of dollars, a situation that may well compromise the country’s democratic aspirations.  How did this happen?  Cambridge University’s Gary Gerstle took us back to America’s origins and reconstructed the strangely intimate and symbiotic relationship of democracy and money across the whole of the nation’s history.

Listen to The Intimate History of Democracy and Money in America audio.

Science On Stage

Friday 20 May

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


Museums at Night – ‘Candle Lit’ Architectural Tours

Thursday 12 & Friday 13 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 Georgian townhouse in evening light.

2016 US Benjamin Franklin House Robert H. Smith Lecture in American Democracy - Benjamin Franklin: American Democracy and Innovation

Wednesday, 11 May

 The New-York Historical Society hosted a US edition of our annual Robert H. Smith Lecture. Best-selling author Walter Isaacson discussed how in his pursuit of innovation Benjamin Franklin shaped American national character and left an enduring Enlightenment-era legacy. Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, is the author of several best-selling biographies, including Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.

London Small Historic Houses: Behind the Scenes

Tuesday, 3 May

 Representatives from London Shh! houses and special guests from the sector discussed their careers in museums and offered advise to anyone interested in joining the sector.

Benjamin Franklin in London

Thursday, 28 April

 Benjamin Franklin House Author in Residence, George Goodwin, discussed Franklin’s life on Craven Street and provided a short reading from his new book, ‘Benjamin Franklin in London'. Guests also enjoyed an Architectural Tour of the House. 

Annual Fulbright Lecture: Of Faith and Works

Monday, 4 April

 The origins of charitable deeds are firmly rooted in religious traditions. Of Faith and Works explored the contours of the relationship between faith, broadly construed, and work, both paid and unpaid, in the charitable sector. Dr. Patrick Harman serves as the Executive Director of the Hayden-Harman Foundation. He is currently a Fulbright scholar at Durham University.

Frankly Speaking! A Benjamin Franklin House Debate Competition in collaboration with the US Embassy in London

Thursday, 10 March

To encourage tomorrow’s thinkers today, we proudly hold an annual Benjamin Franklin Fellowship Debate Competition for upper secondary school students, in collaboration with the US Embassy London. The winner will join students from across Europe and the United States at the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute in America!


Family Day: Float Ben’s Boat!

Tuesday, 16 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 stays afloat and hold as much weight as possible!


First Benjamin Franklin House -Rothermere American Institute Lecture

 'American Isolationism as Seen from the Most Local of Places'

 Monday, 8 February 2016

 Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History, Kristin Hoganson, reconsidered the myth of American isolationism by uncovering hidden histories of one of the seemingly most local of places – the U.S. heartland –  in one of the seemingly most local of times.

House 10th and Franklin 310th Open House

Sunday, 17 January 2016

We celebrated Franklin’s birthday and the 10th anniversary of the opening of Benjamin Franklin House to the public as a dynamic museum and educational facility with an open house, cake and bubbly. Guests discovered more about our current work and big plans for 2016 and beyond, including the new Virtual Georgian Interior.