Undoubtedly, Big Ben has to be one of London’s most iconic attractions, standing majestically over the city, reminding us of its presence every hour as it bongs away. However, what many may not know is that the name given to this tower is actually a nickname for the bell inside the clock, rather than the tower itself.
The tower holding the clock, which is the third tallest free-standing clock tower in the world, was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. After the previous Palace of Westminster was mostly destroyed in a fire in October 1834, plans were drawn up to built a new tower in a Neo-Gothic style, in conjunction with the new palace. Augustus Pugin overlooked the designs for the clock tower; the last project Mr Pugin would be involved in before he went into a downwards spiral of madness and death. The project was completed in 1858.
Standing at 315 ft high, the tower must simply be seen to be believed. While the structure is actually not open to visitors, UK residents can still arrange tours through their local council, and they will need to tackle 334 stairs to reach the top, as the structure actually has no lift.
So why Big Ben? Well, this was the name given to the Great Bell inside, cast in 1856 by John Warner & Sons, and named in honour of politician Sir Benjamin Hall. His name was inscribed on the bell, hence the nickname. The bell first chimed in July 1859, but then it cracked within the first two months, and as it had to be repaired, it has actually chimed with a slightly different tone since, that one that can be heard today.
Visit this fantastic attraction in London – you would be a fool to miss it.