On Friday I joined my sister for a weekend break in London. Right now London is riding on the crest of the Olympic Games wave and there’s evidence everywhere that the Games have just taken place and the Paralympics are due to begin in about ten days’ time. We checked in at our bargain priced four star hotel in the City early on Friday and shared ideas on where to go and what to do. My first suggestion, taken from Quiet London by Siobhan Wall, was to call and make a booking to visit Benjamin Franklin House.
We’d both come across Franklin in a vague sort of way on our various trips to Boston and New England but we really knew nothing much about him. Our visit to 36, Craven Street right next door to Charing Cross Station was to change all that.
Craven Street, WC2
Here’s a brief resumé of his career in England taken from the Benjamin Franklin House website.
“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.”
Franklin lived at 36 Craven Street between 1757 and 1775
Benjamin Franklin House, 36, Craven Street, London, WC2
The Historical Experience brings to life the years that Franklin spent in London lodging in this house with Mrs Margaret Stephenson and her daughter Polly, later to be joined by Polly’s husband William Hewson (in 1770) who ran an anatomy school on the premises. The Historical Experience is based on Franklin’s last day at the house (20 March 1775) and we followed the actress as Polly around the house from room to room as the drama unfolded with use of lighting, sound and visual projection.
The house itself held great interest for us. It was so very like 13, Princelet Street in Spitalfields where we stayed last January. Both houses were built in the first half of the eighteenth century and have a very similar design and layout and have managed to survive with surprisingly many of their original fixtures and fittings in place.
The Hall, Benjamin Franklin House
The rear of Benjamin Franklin House
The Friends of Benjamin Franklin House rescued the house from its dire condition at the end of the last century and after a great deal of hard work the Grade 1 listed Georgian building was opened to the public on 17 January 2006 which was 300 years to the day since the birth of Benjamin Franklin. Miraculously it is the only surviving house on the street. From the front this is not at all obvious but at the back the neighbouring houses are all of new brick.
“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.”
Read more athttp://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/benjamin_franklin.html#VtV0qrzico5gm2OK.99