I am a medievalist in the process of completing a PhD (involving medieval medicine). I travel as much as possible at home (UK) and abroad. I'm always ready for new experiences!
Published June 13th 2015
A day for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
For people living in the United States, the Fourth of July typically means hot weather, BBQs with family and friends, parades, patriotic displays, and fireworks. For the expat looking for a taste of home or for the local looking to experience a bit of Americana, there are several events in London that you can attend in honour of America's Independence Day. The following is a small selection of four favourite American-themed activities.
Visit the US Declaration of Independence
The US Declaration of Independence is the name of the document accepted by the Continental Congress on 4 July, 1776. The document officially declares the United States of America as a nation independent from the British Empire. Thomas Jefferson's handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence and one of the original copies of the Bill of Rights are on display for the first time in the UK at The British Library's Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy exhibition. America's Founding Fathers were greatly influenced by the legal provisions of Magna Carta, which helped to give birth to one of the most revered statements in American life: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." You can read these famous words for yourself in one of the original documents within the context of a stunning exhibition spanning 800 years of world history.
Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. Image by New York Public Library (via British Library)
Address: 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB
Phone: 44 (0)1937 546546
Cost: Full Price: £12.00; Senior 60 and over: £10.00; Concessions: £5.00; Under 18: Free
Independence Day Party at Benjamin Franklin's House
Benjamin Franklin lived in London between 1757 and 1775 where he served as a representative for the interests of the American colonies and as a mediator in the revolutionary conflict. Franklin is remembered as being a diplomat, statesman, and founding father of the United States, but he also possessed myriad other talents in the fields of science, writing, music, and philosophy. He also was the only statesman to sign all four of the documents that led to the creation of the United States: The Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris, and The Constitution.
On Friday, 3 July from 12 to 2pm there will be an Independence Day celebration at the house, which will include cake and champagne. The cost is £8 / £5 (Friends and concessions).
Image courtesy of the Benjamin Franklin House
The house is also open for tours throughout the year at the following times:
Monday: Architectural tours run at 12 noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3.15pm and 4.15pm
Tuesday: Schools Day (advance booking required)
Wednesday–Sunday: Historical Experience shows run at 12 noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3.15pm and 4.15pm (booking is recommended)
Address: 36 Craven Street, WC2N 5NF
Phone: 44 (0) 207 925 1405 (Line open 10.30am to 5pm every day, except Tuesday)
The Mayflower Pub is the oldest pub on the Thames and it has preserved the spirit and ambiance of sixteenth-century London. On 'Blackout Sundays' the pub even recreates its original atmosphere by lighting the pub solely with candles and fire. Although it is not directly connected with the Independence Day of 1776, the pub claims to be the original mooring point for the Mayflower ship, which carried the Pilgrim Fathers to New England in 1620. The pub has a lovely historical atmosphere, a cosy setting, beautiful views of the Thames, and a selection of traditional British pub food alongside European-fusion dishes.
The Lockhart is a Southern-style US restaurant located in Marylebone. The head chef, Brad McDonald, is originally from Mississippi and has developed a "refined spin on Southern American cooking." The restaurant is hosting an All-American Picnic on the Fourth of July from 11am to 10pm for £50. The menu includes watermelon punch, BBQ ribs, fried chicken, patriotic-coloured donuts, and many other American-themed snacks and picnic dishes.
American-style BBQ. Image courtesy of Arnold Gatilao