Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

ADDRESS: Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
TEL: 0844 847 1672
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Adjacent to the Houses of Parliament, one of the most significant buildings in the city of Westminster, you will find Big Ben, officially known as the Elizabeth Tower, since it was renamed in 2012 to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The 320-foot tall clock tower is lovingly known as Big Ben, which is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament) in London, and often extended to refer to the clock and the clock tower itself.

Big Ben is one of the capital's most prominent landmarks, visited by thousands of people who come to London from all over the world every year and a key feature of the city's famous skyline.

20 Facts About Big Ben

  • The construction of the clock tower started in late 1843 and it was completed in 1859.
  • It is Great Britain's largest clock and the world's largest four-faced chiming clock.
  • There are two theories on how the Great Bell of the Clock got its name, the first being that it was named after a large man; Sir Benjamin Hall who was the Commissioner for Works from 1855 to 1858. Or it could have been named after Ben Caunt, a champion heavyweight boxer in the 1850s.
  • By all means, weighing in at 13,760kg, Big Ben is big however St Paul's Cathedral is home to the largest bell in London.
  • The spire at the top of the clock tower is named Little Ben.
  • The great bell weighs over 13 tons and its chimes can be heard for five miles.
  • On the 27th of July 2012, Big Ben chimed thirty times at the start of the London Olympic Games.
  • On the 31st of May 2009, Britain celebrated the 150th anniversary of the structure's completion.
  • There are 334 steps to the top of the clock tower.
  • The tower was built upwards from the inside so there was no scaffolding to be seen from the outside.
  • Big Ben is the UK's most popular tourist attraction.
  • The clock is adjusted every year using an old penny coin. If the clock is too fast, another penny is added to the pendulum, or if it is too slow, a penny is removed.
  • The dials are over seven meters in diameter and are cleaned every five years by abseilers using soap and water. The clock faces are illuminated when parliament is in session.
  • The Union Flag is also flown from the Victoria Tower whenever parliament is in session.
  • Three hundred and twelve pieces of glass can be found in each clock face.
  • The numerals are about 60cm long
  • The minute hands are 4.2 metres in length and weigh around 100kg
  • Big Ben is Britain's most frequently featured film location.
  • On 31st December 1923, the BBC first broadcasted the chimes of Big Ben and this has become traditional even in the present day.
  • The Elizabeth Tower is not open to the general public however UK residents can apply for a visit by writing in advance to their MP.

Map for Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament