Benjamin Franklin was famous as a founding father of American Independence but we forget he spent many years in the mother country. While lodging at 36 Craven Street, Franklin's main occupation was mediating unrest between Britain and America, but he also served as Deputy Postmaster for the Colonies; pursued his love of science (exploring bifocal spectacles, the energy-saving Franklin stove); explored health (inoculation, air baths, cures for the common cold); music (inventing the delightful glass armonica for which Mozart, Bach 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 figures of the day. This is the only surviving former home of Franklin in the world and he lived here for 16 years. The House, built circa 1730, is architecturally significant. It holds a Grade I listing and retains a majority of original features (central staircase; lathing; 18th century paneling; stoves; windows; fittings; beams; brick, etc) 'unimproved' over time.
The "Historical Experience" includes an actor portraying historical characters associated with the house along with dialogue, sound, lighting, and special effects. The character used in the "Historical Experience" is Polly Hewson, the daughter of Franklin's landlady who became a "second daughter" to Franklin (her son went on to run an anatomy centre at the house). The "Student Science Centre" allows students to re-create experiments from Franklin's sojourn in London. It includes a Medical History Room (focused on the medical research of William Hewson, who did his work from the house for a time), a Discovery Room (containing historical artifacts), and a Demonstration Room (in which students can replicate Franklin's experiments). The top floor Robert H. Smith Scholarship Centre is a focal point in Europe for Franklin and the myriad subjects with which he is associated, featuring a full set of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin, as catalogued by Yale University, as well as an active internship programme, and nearly 40 public events per year. Unfortunately the tours are not wheelchair accessible.
Location : 36 Craven St, WC2N 5NF
Opening Times: Monday, Wednesday to Sunday 10:30 to 17:00.
Historical Experience at 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:15 and 16:15.
Tickets : £7.00 adults, £5.00 Concessions, Children under 16 and Carers free.
Tel: 0207 925 1405.