Group visits are welcome at Benjamin Franklin House. There are a variety of ways for your group to uncover the historical, architectural and scientific importance of the Grade I listed building and its inhabitants. Please contact us on +44 (0) 20 839 2008 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to discuss specific requirements.
A group visit costs just £6 per person (normal admission £7), and usually includes either the Historical Experience or Monday Architectural Tour and a further demonstration.
We can accommodate up to 15 people for the Historical Experience. Usually group bookings take place Wednesday-Sunday afternoons, although out of hours bookings at other times may be possible for an additional cost.
The Historical Experience (Wednesday to Sunday)
The Historical Experience presents the excitement and uncertainty of Franklin’s London years using the rooms he inhabited for nearly sixteen years as staging for a drama which seamlessly integrates live performance, cutting edge lighting and projection technology. With its ‘museums as theatre’ approach, it stands alone among London attractions. The main character is Polly Hewson, daughter of Franklin’s landlady who became a ‘second daughter’ to Franklin. Visitors experience a sense of the complexity of the man and the times in which he lived: food, health, botany, and daily living in the basement kitchen; social and personal relationships, musical inventions and political tension on the ground floor; scientific work, political triumphs and woes, and a hurried return to America in the face of the looming War of Independence on the first floor.
Architectural and Conservation Tours (Mondays Only)
For those groups for whom the architecture of the historic building is of primary interest, we can arrange a tour of the House with a knowledgeable guide. Thevisit will highlight the Houses original features and provide information on the conservation project which rescued the building from derelictionm, 36 Craven Streets 300 years of its history will come to life, including the preiod of Franklin’s residence.
The Glass Armonica
Franklin invented the glass armonica in 1761, after seeing Edmund Delaval play water filled wine glasses in Cambridge in 1758. Franklin’s armonica, capable of creating more harmonies within the actual melody, consisted of 37 bowls mounted on an iron spindle, which could be turned by means of a foot-operated treadle, and played with moistened fingers. Mozart, Beethoven, and many others composed works on the armonica, although by the early 19th century, suspicion that the ethereal music could drive performers mad caused a decline in the instrument’s popularity. Visitors will have the chance to play this intriguing intrument .
The Lightning Experiment
In London, Franklin continued his innovative work in science. On the banks of the Thames at the bottom of Craven Street he demonstrated his kite and key experiment proving lightning to be an electrical phenomenon (St. Paul’s Cathedral was the first building in Britain to have a Franklin lightning rod). This exciting experiment provides a visual demonstration of Franklin’s theories. A demonstration of the work Franklin carried out at Craven Street on the effect of canal depths on ships is also available.
William Hewson and the Craven Street Bones
One of the more unusual findings during conservation of 36 Craven Street were a number of human and animal bones, excavated from what would have been the House’s garden. In just one square metre of ground, more than 1,200 human and animal bones were discovered. Forensic archaeologists confirmed that these remains dated from the 18th century, the remains of dissections carried out at Hewson’s Anatomy School, run from the house from 1772 (after his marriage to Polly Stevenson) and his death in 1774.