BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HOUSE LONDON - eGAZETTE Q2 2012
Latest developments of the exceptionally active
"must-see" site for your next visit to London:
Only surviving residence of Benjamin Franklin
From left to right: Lord Hannay of Chiswick discussed the nuances of American diplomacy at the 2012 annual Robert H. Smith Lecture; Sharlina Hussain-Morgan, Assistant Cultural Attaché at the US Embassy London, congratulates Jordan Dalrymple, winner of the 2012 joint Embassy-House debate; 36 Craven Street's Georgian interiors are revitalised following conservation work.
“You will forget me quite, my dear old Friend, if I do not write to you now and then. I still exist, and still enjoy some Pleasure in that Existence, tho’ now in my 79th Year. Yet I feel the Infirmities of Age coming on so fast, and the Building to need so many Repairs, that in a little time the Owner will find it cheaper to pull it down and build a new one.” –– Benjamin Franklin to Polly Hewson, 1784
Greetings and Happy 4th of July,
Writing to Polly Hewson in 1784, daughter of his landlady Margaret Stevenson, who had grown up with him during his long residence at 36 Craven Street (before she moved from London to Philadelphia with her family to be near him), Franklin compared his body to an old building needing repair. His only surviving residence, nearly 300 years old, and the largest Franklin artefact, requires ongoing attention to ensure it lasts another 300. Nearly 55,000 people have visited the House since it opened to the public on Franklin's 300th birthday in 2006.
This spring the Grade I listed interiors underwent necessary conservation. Works included re-treatment of the 18th century floors, joinery repairs, including to the House's original front door bolt, and redecoration and were made possible with support from the Heritage of London Trust, Leche Trust, and the Veneziana Fund.
Also lending support to the House are invaluable volunteers – between 15-20 at any one time – who help with visitor services, marketing, events, and more. One of them, Ryan Smith, received Volunteer Centre Westminster’s Youth Volunteer Award at a ceremony on 13 June. He was recognised for exceptional dedication and enthusiasm. During a break in his studies, Ryan assisted us with outreach to key groups such as tour operators and guidebook publishers.
In celebration of America's national day we welcomed some 50 guests this afternoon for cake and bubbly. We raised a toast to all our friends across the UK, US, and farther afield.
Read on for more House news over the period.
- *We welcomed over 200 students from London schools to the Student Science Centre, including Westminster Cathedral RC Primary School, Willow Primary School, and Smithy Street Primary School.
- *House Education Manager, Stephen Wilson, delivered Ben’s Travelling Suitcase outreach sessions to schools like Parkgate House and Surrey's Bromley Cubs Pack.
- *2012 Science Day took place in May at the Salvation Army Regent Hall with 174 school children in attendance; activities included presentations about the nature of electricity and the science of kite-flying. Participating schools included St John's Walham Green Primary, Rotherfield Primary and Eaton Square.
- *In April, students from Burntwood School, Ernest Bevin College, and St Cecilia's School debated motions like 'This house believes that voting in local and national elections should be mandatory' at our annual debate competition in conjunction with the US Embassy. Winner Jordan Dalrymple and runner-up Katya Smith will be attending the Benjamin Franklin Summer Institute at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
- *We concluded the 2011-12 Sister Schools pairings, successfully connecting: Weston Park Primary School in Haringey, North London and PS 208 in Brooklyn, New York; Risley Avenue Primary in Haringey and PS 244 in Brooklyn; and Westminster Cathedral School in Westminster and Sam Adams Elementary in Boston, Massachusetts. More pairings between schools in London and Boston, New York and Philadelphia will take place in the autumn.
- *We hosted a teacher round table in June to gain important feedback on our education programme. We aim to establish a teacher advisory panel to ensure our offerings meet the interests of students, schools, and funders.
- *Over the Easter holiday we held our annual Georgian Games, allowing children to play games popular in the 18th century including quoits, marbles ,and cat's cradle. In celebration of the upcoming London Olympics, Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes were awarded to top performers!
- *Also in the quarter, we consulted with the London Mayor's office on a proposed 'London Curriculum.' The intention is to encourage teachers to make better use of the history, culture, and resources on their doorstep like Benjamin Franklin House.
- *To find out more about educational visits (each Tuesday the House is closed to the public and open to schools free of charge) email: Education@BenjaminFranklinHouse.org
- *On 21 May, we hosted the second annual Robert H. Smith Lecture in American Democracy, in association with the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. 2012 speaker, distinguished diplomat Lord Hannay of Chiswick, former Minister at the British Embassy in Washington and former British Ambassador to the United Nations, discussed ‘Some Thoughts on the Diplomacy of a Great Democracy by an Outside Observer.’ Lord Hannay’s thought provoking remarks will be available soon here.
- *House historian Lady Joan Reid discussed Franklin and the Artists. Franklin’s likeness was painted and etched many times during his lifetime, and he consequently developed friendships with a number of artists.
- *The House's Young Supporters hosted an engaging debate on civil liberties with special guest David Davis MP, sponsored by Jameson.
- *New challenges and inspiration was the theme for International Museum Day 2012; to mark the occasion we offered 2 for 1 tickets to see the Historical Experience.
- *We participated in nationwide Museums and Galleries at Night in May inviting visitors to see evening runs of the Historical Experience.
- *Scott Varland, American lawyer and author, explored the trajectory of American democratic thought in his June lecture on The American Enlightenment from Franklin to the Reverend Martin Luther King.
- *Lady Reid Lecture – Franklin and Joseph Priestley, Monday 23 July, 12pm. Joseph Priestley, English theologian and scientist, is best known for ‘discovering’ oxygen, however Lady Reid will reveal that his ideas in areas like education, history, and human progress influenced many US founding fathers. £5/£3.50 Friends and concessions.
- *Festival of British Archaeology, Tuesday 24 July, 11am-1pm. Children will explore the House’s fascinating archaeological history. They will discover why human bones were found in the basement and the story they tell about the history of medicine. Led by House Education Manager, Stephen Wilson. £5 per child, free for adults.
- *A Musical Evening: Franklin's Glass Armonica, Monday 6 August, 6.30pm. In 1762, Franklin premiered his new musical invention, the glass armonica, at 36 Craven Street. House Operations Manager, Sally James, will talk about its fascinating history and perform excerpts from pieces written for the instrument. £5/£3.50 Friends and concessions.
- *Children's Summer Fete – Print This!, Tuesday 21 August, 11am-2pm. The second annual Summer Fete, in collaboration with special guests from the world of heritage will include Print This! – a workshop for all the family exploring Franklin’s contribution to printing, allowing participants to print their own message, picture, or sign using everyday objects. Suitable for 5-14 year olds. £7 per child, free for adults.
- *Georgian Homes, Tuesday 28 August, 11am and 2pm. A fun session for kids big and small, during which we will build a street of 3D, model Georgian terraces like 36 Craven Street. Suitable for 7-14 year olds. £5 per child, free for adults.
- *Poor Richard’s Lament Book Reading, Monday 10 September, 1-2pm. Tom Fitzgerald will read excerpts from his novel Poor Richard’s Lament: A most timely tale, which finds Franklin in present day America. Free – Booking required.
- *Open House London Weekend, Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September, 10.30am-4pm. Open House London Weekend celebrates the city’s incredible architecture. Guided tours of Benjamin Franklin House will take place throughout the day. Free – Booking required via Open House London (www.open-city.org.uk)
- *Annual Symposium in association with the Eccles Centre for American Studies: Chasing Venus by Andrea Wulf, Monday 24 September, 6.30pm. LOCATION: Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB. Award-winning author Andrea Wulf will tell the extraordinary story of the first global scientific collaboration set amid warring armies, hurricanes, scientific endeavour, and personal tragedy. £8/£5 Friends and concessions.
- *Thanksgiving Dinner, Thursday 22 November, 7.30pm. It’s not too early to mark your diaries for our annual Thanksgiving dinnerat the Butchers’ Hall, 87 Bartholomew Close, London EC1A 7EB. Our traditional American feast will feature roast turkey, stuffing, vegetables and of course pumpkin pie.£68 adults, £28 children.
- *To book for all events call +44 (0)20 7839 2006 or email Info@BenjaminFranklinHouse.org
Support for the House
- *We need your assistance to continue bringing history to life! Please visit our support page to make an online donation.
- *Thank you to the following individuals who joined or renewed their Friends Membership since our last eGazette: Elizabeth Church, Geoffrey and Liz Fuller, Ruth Mulvenna, and Ella Weston. Our Friends programme is essential and growing. You can become a Friend with a gift of £25 and above and receive numerous benefits, including free entry to the House.
- *Our Google Ad Words grant continues to drive awareness of the House – searching on Google for Benjamin Franklin and other key words pulls up a free sponsored ad for Benjamin Franklin House.
- *Guardian Jobs online provide us with free advertising for volunteers on their website. We are seeking interns for 2012; read more here.
- *Using the House for your events brings us much needed operational support. In the quarter, Xtreme Everest and What If Innovation hired the House.
- *You can aid Benjamin Franklin House at no cost when shopping online with over 600 popular retailers, including Amazon, and many more: http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/benjaminfranklin. You can also raise funds for the House when performing an online search through easysearch: http://benjaminfranklin.easysearch.org.uk!
- *We need your support to raise the rest of our 2012 operational budget – please consider making a donation here.
*SPECIAL OFFER: Order a Glass Armonica CD (£10) and receive a FREE Benjamin Franklin House Cotton Bag (worth £5). To redeem, order from our online shop or email Info@BenjaminFranklinHouse.org. Expires on 01/10/2012.
Benjamin Franklin House in the News
- *Barron’s online magazine included the House in a feature on ‘The Little-Known London Gems’.
- *The Big Issue profiled the House as a key destination in their Hidden Britain feature the week of 18 June.
- *Flying to London via American Airlines this summer? Look for mention of the House in the 15 July issue of inflight magazine, American Way!
- *Online magazine Mental Floss highlighted the fascinating story behind the discovery of the Craven Street bones at Benjamin Franklin House in 1998.
- *The Westminster Chronicle noted the Youth Volunteer Award received by former House intern, Ryan Smith.
- *Follow Benjamin Franklin House on Twitter; sign up here! Become one of our Facebook friends at www.facebook.com/benjaminfranklinhouse and get daily news on Franklin!
- *Consider writing a review on TripAdvisor. If you have visited the House, click here to share your thoughts and upload photos. Benjamin Franklin House is currently 190 out of 847 London attractions; we’re aiming to be in the top 100!
What’s On – We Recommend
- *Kaffee und Kuchen: Sunday 19 August, 11am, at the Freud Museum. Enjoy traditional Austrian coffee and cake in Freud’s garden, followed by a house tour. For more information call +44 (0) 20 7435 2002
- *London Shh (Small Historic Houses) Garden Party: Thursday 23 August, 6.30pm, at Keats House Museum. A late summer soirée including guided tours of Keats House, poetry readings, and garden games. Details will be available soon on the www.londonshh.org
Wishing you a fruitful summer,
Dr. Márcia Balisciano
Benjamin Franklin House
36 Craven Street
London WC2N 5NF
Telephone +44(0)20 7839 2006