BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HOUSE

Benjamin Franklin; scientist, diplomat, philosopher, inventor and founding father of the United States of American lived in London for just over 15 years.  The house he lodged in is the only one of his residences to still be standing anywhere.  It nestles just below Charing Cross station in Craven Street. Twenty years ago it was derelict and in danger of destruction. 

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36 Craven Street was built in around 1730.  Nearly thirty years later Benjamin Franklin arrived to negotiate peace between the American colonies and London and became a lodger here.  Although these are the rooms, fireplaces and shutters that he would have known, nothing remains of the furnishings of the time.  No attempt has been made to set-dress the rooms as they might have been, rather there are a few sparse items of furniture.  You can take two types of tour; an architectural one that focuses on the building or an historical experience where a costumed guide takes you round the house interacting with a fancy multimedia show as she goes.  We opted for the latter.

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Our tour started with a short film about the life and times of Benjamin Franklin shown in the basement.  Also on display is a macabre display of bones that were dug up from the site, thought to have been left over from the anatomy school that also occupied the house at the time.  One of the many ideas that Franklin came up with were bifocal glasses, a replica pair can be seen.  As the lights go up our guide suddenly appeared from behind us and led us through the upper rooms, seeming to talk to Mr Franklin as she went.

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Objects that Franklin actually touched are absent from the house but it doesn’t matter.  To be in the very beautiful sparsely furnished rooms hearing the story of his time in London skillfully told is really interesting.  What amazed me was how small the rooms were given that he was a man of status.  Craven Street is just around the corner from Trafalgar Square which makes a fine venue for a picnic.  If the weather is wet, then picnics can be eaten in the National Gallery which also has a good café. 

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HOUSE

36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF

 Historical Experience Tours: Wednesday-Sunday 12 noon, 1pm, 3.15pm and 4.15pm

Adults £7, Concessions £5, children under 16 free

 Architectural Tours: Monday 12 noon, 1pm, 3.15pm and 4.15pm

Adults £3.50, children under 16 free

 Book tickets in advance by clicking here

MummyTravels

 

12 Comments

  1. June 28, 2016 / 11:35 am

    an interesting place for sure:) I love visiting such houses.#city tripping

  2. June 28, 2016 / 12:05 pm

    Nice to know about Benjamin Franklin’s house during his years in London. Enjoyed reading your post.

  3. June 29, 2016 / 9:15 am

    Nice to read about Benjamin Franklin House in London. Always admire how British doing a good job on conserving historical houses. #CityTripping

  4. Urska @ Slovenian Girl Abroad
    June 29, 2016 / 12:20 pm

    I almost got an internship there! I’m happy to read about this place as it is not among the best known London’s attractions. 🙂

      • Urska @ Slovenian Girl Abroad
        June 29, 2016 / 2:16 pm

        I agree! 🙂 #citytripping

  5. June 30, 2016 / 8:49 am

    I had no idea this was here – it sounds like they’be done it very cleverly given the limitations of what they have, and definitely worth a tour. #citytripping

  6. July 12, 2016 / 5:42 pm

    I have walked past this loads I didn’t realise you could inside! This or one of the houses on the street has a full size skeleton in a window doesn’t it: scare me lol #CityTripping

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