What time is it?

What is Big Ben?

Big Ben is a huge clock tower, known by the name of its largest bell that dominates the northern end of the building. The height of Big Ben towers is 316 feet.

There are two unproven theories about the name Big Ben. One plausible story is that the name is drawn from Sir Benjamin Hall, chief commissioner of works at the time Big Ben’s was hung in 1858.

Big Ben is the largest clock in Britain, with four dials that are each twenty-four feet in diameter; the minute hands are fourteen feet long. Big Ben is actually the second 13-ton bell made for the clock; the first cracked during testing.

Big Ben’s clock is lit at night. A second lamp above the face is illuminated anytime Parliament is in session

Why is the clock called Big Ben?

Most visitors and many Londoners call St. Stephen’s Tower of the Houses of Parliament “Big Ben”, but the title is actually specifically applied to the largest of five bells hung within the 320-foot-tall tower that rises over the Houses of Parliament: it chimes on the hour, while four smaller ones sound on the quarter hour.

The History of Big Ben

The next 114 years of the clock’s history were relatively serene and Big Ben soon developed a reputation for great accuracy. In 1906, the Big Ben’s gas lighting of the dials was replaced by electric lighting. Electric winding of Big Ben was introduced in 1912.

Londoners set their watches by the chimes of Big Ben, which are broadcast around the globe by the BBC World Service.

The first radio broadcast of Big Ben was made by the BBC at midnight on the 31st December 1923 to welcome in the New Year. Shortly afterwards, a permanent microphone installation enabled regular broadcasts of the chimes and the bell of Big Ben to function effectively as a time signal. The broadcasting of the bells of Big Ben on the BBC World Service assumed particular importance during the Second World War, when the sounds were a source of comfort and hope to those hoping that Britain would not be overcome.

Big Ben today

Big Ben is still broadcast today on BBC Radio 4 at certain times.

The sounds of Big Ben have traditionally been the focus of the entry of the New Year. In December 1999 they were of particular significance, marking the beginning of the new Millennium. The sounds of the chimes of Big Ben were relayed on television and radio broadcasts and to the crowd assembled in the Millennium Dome. For the first time also, cameras were located in the belfry of Big Ben, so that viewers could see as well as hear the chimes and twelve o’clock being struck on bells.

Accommodation near Big Ben

If you like to see, how all these mechanisms work, to hear the chiming and the beautiful lights at night, please come to visit Big Ben.

The Georgian House Hotel makes a great place to stay when you plan a trip to see Big Ben. The hotel is relatively close, easy to reach by bus or underground and offers a variety of rooms, facilities and prices. Many people enjoy our Full English breakfast and recommend it to friends.