Attraction Reviews

Benjamin Franklin House Review: Fascinating History or Humdrum?

Thanks for visiting my site! Google penalized my site and made it impossible to find, so I appreciate that you use another search engine and trust me to help me plan your trip.

Would you be scared or intrigued if human bones were found under your house? When the Benjamin Franklin House in London was renovated in 1998, 200-year-old bones of 15 people were found in the basement, indicating that they were probably buried there when Franklin was in residence! 

This property is the only former residence of Benjamin Franklin that still exists today. Dating back to 1730, Franklin resided here for around sixteen years, not an insignificant length of time.

Benjamin Franklin House Museum Review Hero

Thankfully, the Georgian terrace is now a Grade-I listed property in the UK, and retains many original features, such as the floorboards (they’re quite rickety, to be honest- please walk carefully!), ceilings, and staircases, so it’s easy to imagine Franklin’s life there.

As for why there are bones in the basement, I’ll let you visit the Benjamin Franklin Museum yourself to find out! Follow me as I share more about the museum with you in my Benjamin Franklin House review.

Bonus! As part of the London Pass, you can book free tickets for the Historical and Architectural tours at the Benjamin Franklin House (valued at £10-12pp in 2024!). Click here to read my London Pass review and click here to buy your own London Pass and save during your London trip.

Basics of Visiting Benjamin Franklin House

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Franklin House via Instagram

As usual, I’d like to share with you where the museum is, how much it costs, and how you can get there. Hopefully, this info helps you better plan your visit.

Location & Transport

Benjamin Franklin House has a terrific location, right in the heart of London, and very close to Charing Cross Station. (It’s also just a few minutes from Embankment, so I recommend preceding or following your visit with a nice riverside stroll.)

The easiest way to get there would be to take the Tube to either Charing Cross or Embankment stations – you have the Northern, Bakerloo, District, and Circle lines – but you can also take Buses 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 77a, 91, and 176.

Hours, Admission & Tickets

The Museum is only open from Friday to Sunday (10:30am to 5pm), so you will need to plan your London itinerary carefully if you want to visit. In addition, there are two types of visits: an Architectural tour or a Historical tour. The former is only conducted on Fridays and the latter on the weekend.

The (approximately one-hour) tours are conducted five times a day, at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3:15pm, and 4:15pm.

Important: You must book in advance if you want to visit this museum, as it is not a “free-roaming” museum; instead, small groups of visitors are escorted through the house. However, if you’re in the area without a reservation, you can try your luck- sometimes they just happen to have extra space!

Tickets are £12 for the Historical tour, and £10 for the architectural visit, with children under 12 visiting for free. (As a reminder, you can get free tickets if you use your London Pass!)

Food Options & Facilities

This is an extremely tiny museum, so it does not have a cafe. However, luckily, there are a ton of good food options nearby.

The closest would be the Ship & Shovell, a traditional English pub just behind the house, in Craven Passage. (The fish and chips are popular, or you can have some pub classics such as burgers and British pies.) Pub-hopping is the quintessential British pastime, so I highly recommend stopping by if you’ve not been to a pub in the UK before!

Alternatively, if you’re at the Museum between Friday to Sunday, cross the River Thames to the Southbank Centre Food Market, which has a large range of street food stalls. 

A third option would be walking over to nearby Chinatown near Trafalgar Square, where you can find dozens of (generally inexpensive) Asian eateries. (The Asian food scene in London has improved dramatically over the last 2 decades, so some of them are actually quite good.)

Gift Shop & Souvenirs

There is a tiny display selling souvenirs – it’s so small, I wouldn’t really call it a gift shop! You can buy some Franklin-themed gifts, such as reusable coffee cups, tea towels, and tote bags with the Benjamin Franklin House logo on them. There are also a couple of books about Franklin, targeting both adults and kids, but the range is not wide.

The designs are not bad – they’re mainly monochromatic prints, so they look fairly stylish – but generally, I’d say the souvenirs here lack the sophistication you see at other London attractions.

My Experience at Benjamin Franklin House

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Franklin House via Instagram

This was certainly one of the most unique museums that I have visited in London, as it’s a bit of a dramatic performance-meets-museum. (I did the historical tour, not the architectural one.)

Unlike most museums, it’s not an open door. You have to knock to be let in, and you don’t feel particularly encouraged to enter early (commuting times in London can be unpredictable, so I arrived quite early to avoid being late if that makes sense.) I ended up wandering around Charing Cross to while away the extra time.

Your visit will begin in the basement, where you can learn a bit more about the house, its history (the bones!), and Franklin’s time in London. His relationship with his landlord’s family is very interesting! (I would have enjoyed learning more about Franklin in general – and not just his London life – but I guess there’s only so much you can fit into an hour’s tour.)

After that, an actress in period clothing will bring you through the house, playing the role of Polly Hewson, the daughter of Franklin’s landlord. (For the less mobile, note that this involves climbing a number of stairs.)

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Franklin House via Instagram

One thing to note is that most of the rooms are very bare – you won’t find any of Franklin’s furniture or belongings – and projections are used to help you imagine what they would have looked like during Franklin’s time. It’s really more like an interactive performance, than a regular Museum visit.

If you’re elderly, you may struggle as you may have to stand for a while. (I suddenly felt extremely faint during my visit, and there weren’t even enough chairs for everyone to sit on when watching the various performances.)

Last but not least, there is no space to hang around once the tour is done (so you don’t have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the surroundings if that’s how you prefer to conduct your Museum visits.)

So, all in: is the Benjamin Franklin House Museum worth it? Here’s my final verdict:

Visiting the Benjamin Franklin House Museum would definitely be very rewarding for Americans, or other people with a deep interest in Benjamin Franklin. However, for general museum visitors, the Museum may be a bit too niche to feel worth the money. The concept is unique, but it’s not for everyone.

Have any other questions about this Benjamin Franklin House review? Let me know in the comments below!

Don’t Forget! As part of the London Pass, you can book free tickets for the Historical and Architectural tours at the Benjamin Franklin House (valued at £10-12pp in 2024!). Click here to read my London Pass review and click here to buy your own London Pass and save during your London trip.

Avatar photo

Zhen fell in love with London when she first visited at the age of 4. After that, she was lucky to have the opportunity to live in UK for 11 years, 7 of which were spent in London. (She particularly adores the areas around Kensington, Southwark and Baker Street!) As someone who loves both food and travel – don’t we all? – you can find her sharing her Asian food recipes over at greedygirlgourmet.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *