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Benjamin Franklin House London

Only surviving former home of one of the Founding Fathers of the United States

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Benjamin Franklin House London - exterior view

Benjamin Franklin House London - exterior view

© Benjamin Franklin House

Benjamin Franklin House Introduction

Benjamin Franklin House in London was his home between 1757 and 1775 and is the only surviving former home of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Benjamin Franklin House opened as a museum on Franklin's 300th birthday on 17 January 2006.

This museum is included in the list of:
Famous London People Museums and Houses.

About Benjamin Franklin

Scientist, diplomat, philosopher, inventor, writer, US Founding Father and so much more. How do you you label someone as important as Benjamin Franklin?

Benjamin Franklin was the fifteenth child of a family twenty. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts to an American mother, Abiah Folger and a British father, Josiah in 1706.

Franklin is the only statesman to have signed all four documents that created a new nation: The Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris establishing peace with Britain (1783) and The Constitution (1787).

Franklin's influence and innovation still impact our lives today. He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 17 April 1790 as one of history's great figures.

Benjamin Franklin House

Benjamin Franklin House London - interior view

Benjamin Franklin House London - interior view

© Benjamin Franklin House
36 Craven Street is just off Trafalgar Square. This Georgian terraced house was built circa 1730 and is now Grade I listed (has architectural significance). It retains a majority of original features (central staircase - which Franklin claimed to use for daily exercise!; 14 fireplaces; lathing; 18th century paneling; stoves; windows; shutters; fittings; beams; floors; brick, etc) 'unimproved' over time.

This was Franklin's home for sixteen years between 1757 and 1775. He was incredibly busy during this time but his main occupation was Colonial agent mediating unrest between Britain and America. Though ultimately unsuccessful, he planted seeds of a special relationship that has continued between the nations. 36 Craven Street was the first de facto US Embassy in London and therefore holds a special place in Anglo-American history.

During his London tenure Franklin was also Postmaster for the Colonies, pursued science (the energy-saving Franklin stove, daylight savings time, the Gulf Stream and designs for the lightning rod); health (inoculation, air baths, cures for the common cold); music (the glass armonica for which Mozart and Beethoven composed) and letters (articles, epitaphs, and his witty Craven Street Gazette) -- all while forging a hearty social life and close friendships with leading s figures of the day.

Craven Street Bones

During the building's restoration human bones were found in the area than was the garden (now an indoor seminar room). These are remnants from the anatomy school run by Franklin's landlady's son-in-law, William Hewson.

Benjamin Franklin House Visitor Information

36 Craven Street

Nearest Tube Station: Charing Cross

Use Journey Planner to plan your route by public transport.

Telephone: 020 7839 2006

Email: info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org

Official Website: www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org

See official website for online booking.

Opening Times: Wednesday - Sunday: 12pm - 5pm
Closed from 24 December to 1 January inclusive.

Historical Experience Showtimes: 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3.15pm, 4.15pm.
The Historical Experience is a unique tour of the building. (See below.)

Visit Duration: 1.5 hours.

Benjamin Franklin House is an historical building and therefore there is no elevator/lift available. There is a staircase to go upstairs and downstairs but be aware the steps down are quite steep. There are also a few steps to enter the building. The building has been well-restored but do watch your step as some flooring/steps are uneven due to the age of the building.

Benjamin Franklin House Historical Experience

Benjamin Franklin House London - Historical Experience (Polly)

Historical Experience

© Benjamin Franklin House
The rooms have been restored but are mostly empty, so how can this be brought to life for visitors to imagine what is was like when Benjamin Franklin lived there? Benjamin Franklin House has devised a unique tour idea with a member of the household from his time and the use of audio and video projections.

An actress plays the part of the landlady's daughter, Polly Hewson, and leads you through the rooms, cleverly interacting with audio in each room. You can't speak to her during the tour as she has a script to follow and it's rather like being on a stage but being invisible (do you know what I mean?)

The tour starts in the basement with an informative film and then Polly leads the group to each room. A video is projected on the walls to compliment the audio. It initially seems a little strange being in the way of this actress talking to the voices in the room but you soon get used to it.

You hear Benjamin Franklin and other occupants of the house and they call to the guide. She moves through to the next room and the group follow her.

Be aware climbing stairs is involved but nothing too strenuous. I wouldn't recommend this tour for younger children but over 7s should get something out of it.

The tour ends when Polly leaves the last room but you are met by a museum assistant so you can ask questions. The tours lasts about 50 minutes.

This is a really unusual and quirky way to explore the building and although I wasn't expecting to find it so good I haven't stopped telling people about it.

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