The only residence of the portly politico left standing is a sort of architectural preserve. Astonishingly, Franklin lived here in this boarding house by the Thames without his wife for nearly 16 years—he was here for the Boston Tea Party, the enactment of the Stamp Act, and his invention of the armonica—and it was only the Revolution (and scandal) that forced him to abandon his adopted home and move back to the Colonies. For much of his life Franklin was a fervent loyalist who, even as late as 1775, felt that the differences between Britain and the Colonies could be settled in “half an hour.” Tours are conducted by a young actress playing the landlady’s daughter, Polly Hewson, who became such a dear friend she moved to Philadelphia and was with him when he died. In empty rooms, Polly tells wistful tales as recordings chime in with voices from her memory. (Mondays are for architectural tours without the actress.) Rewards are mixed. Exhibits are sparse (one exception is the ghoulish deposit of human bones in the backyard, likely left over from dissections by Franklin’s doctor neighbor), and there are few kids’ activities. But on the other hand, it’s rare for a famous home of this age to have survived into our lifetime. It’s also humbling to see how this giant man made do with such small quarters. The worn wooden staircase, on which he got his exercise when French trollopes weren’t available, is so well preserved it feels ghostly.
The Benjamin Franklin House
36 Craven St., WC2
Our Rating Transportation Tube: Embankment or Charing Cross Phone 020/7925-1405 Prices Tours (required) £7 adults, £5 seniors/students, free for children under 15; ; 5 timed tours daily; Mon (Architectural tour) and Wed–Sun (Historical tour) noon–4:15pm Web site The Benjamin Franklin House
Map36 Craven St., WC2 London
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.