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Submitted by on Oct 3, 2021

Big Ben is a nickname for the Great Bell of the striking clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster, however the term is also used to apply to the clock and the clock tower as well. The official name of the tower in which Big Ben is housed was originally Clock Tower, but in 2012, it was renamed Elizabeth Tower to commemorate Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee as Queen of the United Kingdom.

Augustus Pugin designed the tower in a neoGothic style. When it was finished in 1859, the clock was the world’s biggest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock. The tower is 316 feet (96 meters) tall, with 334 steps from ground level to the belfry. It has a square foundation that measures 40 feet (12 meters) on each side. The clock’s dials are 22.5 feet (6.9 meters) in diameter. The rose for England, thistle for Scotland, shamrock for Northern Ireland, and leek for Wales are all represented on the tower by shields with a rose for England, thistle for Scotland, shamrock for Northern Ireland, and leek for Wales. On the 150th anniversary of the tower’s construction, celebrations were conducted on May 31, 2009.

Big Ben is the tallest and heaviest of the five bells in the tower, weighing 13.5 tons (13.7 tonnes; 15.1 short tons). For 23 years, it was the biggest bell in the United Kingdom. The bell’s moniker is unknown; it might be called for Sir Benjamin Hall, the man who oversaw its installation, or heavyweight boxing champion Benjamin Caunt. At 15, 30, and 45 minutes past the hour, four quarter bells ring, immediately before Big Ben tolls on the hour. The clock’s original Victorian mechanism is still in operation, although an electric motor may be utilized in the event of a power outage.

The tower is a globally recognized British cultural symbol. It is one of the most well-known symbols of the United Kingdom and parliamentary democracy, and it frequently appears in the opening scenes of films set in London. Since 1970, the clock tower has been a Grade I listed structure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

On August 21, 2017, construction on the tower began on a four-year restoration plan. Among the renovations will be the addition of a lift, re-glazing and repainting the clock dials, improving lighting, and replacing roof tiles. The bells will be quiet until the construction is done in 2022, with a few exceptions such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday.

After the ancient Palace of Westminster was completely damaged by fire on October 16, 1834, the Elizabeth Tower, initially known as the Clock Tower but more often known as Big Ben, was constructed as part of Charles Barry’s plan for a new Palace of Westminster. Despite the fact that Barry was the primary architect of the neo-gothic palace, the Clock Tower was designed by Augustus Pugin, and it reflects earlier Pugin designs, such as one for Scarisbrick Hall in Lancashire. On September 28, 1845, work on the tower began. Thomas Grissell and Morton Peto were the general contractors.

Emily, Peto’s daughter-in-sister, law’s was given the honor of laying the first stone, according to an engraved trowel currently in the Parliamentary Archives. “I never worked so hard in my life for Mr Barry for tomorrow I render all my designs for finishing his bell tower and it is beautiful,” Pugin wrote at the time of Barry’s last visit to him to collect the drawings, “I never worked so hard in my life for Mr Barry for tomorrow I render all my designs for finishing his bell tower and it is beautiful.”

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