Famous Landmarks in London. Big Ben and The Palace of Westminster

 Famous Landmarks in London.

Big Ben

Famous Landmarks in London Big Ben

Of course one of the Famous Landmarks in London is Big Ben but what is Big Ben?

The iconic Big Ben Tower with the clock in it I hear you say.

I am sorry you are wrong……………

It’s the bell in the Tower that’s called Big Ben.

The Tower is the Elizabeth Tower.

Truly one of the Famous Landmarks in London.

The original Westminster Palace started off as Westminster Hall and was added to over the years. It was used as the administrative centre of the kingdom as well as other uses and is now called the Houses of Parliament. The hall was built in 1016 and became the primary residence for kings  of England until it was badly damaged by fire in 1512

It was then used as the Houses of Parliament until it was again badly damaged by fire in 1834.

The remains of the Palace were incorporated into its much larger replacement. It was reconstructed in Gothic style by architect Charles Barry and the French architect, Auguste Pugin.

 The reconstruction took  early 30 years…………A couple of good books regarding the restoration.

another good book

In May 1941 a German bomb fell near Elizabeth Tower bringing tons of masonry down and causing a fire which destroyed the House of Commons and adjoining lobbies.

The reconstruction

In 1945 the House of Commons was rebuilt in the same Gothic style and took five years to complete.

It has over 1100 rooms and is nearly 300 meters long.

There are two Towers, the Jewel Tower which is not connected and the Elizabeth Tower which has the iconic clock face which is known as Big Ben.

The Jewel Tower, built in 1365 as a royal treasure house and used from 1621 as the Parliament Office and as a storage place for the records of the  House of Lords.

The Elizabeth Tower was known as the Clock Tower and previously St Stephens Tower. Its name was changed to Elizabeth Tower in tribute to Queen Elizabeth 11 in her Diamond Jubilee year.

In 1902 when the tower was called St Stephens Tower, people would be incarcerated in a cell in the Tower for causing trouble in the Palace of Westminster. The last of the rioters to be confined there was Emmeline Pankhurst. She was the leader of the Suffragette movement.

Elizabeth Tower  is 315 feet high and is of brickwork and limestone cladding and has a framed spire of cast iron and was finished in 1858

It was built on a 50 ft square concrete raft. 10 ft in depth which is 13 ft  underground.

The Leaning Tower

The Tower was inspected in 1968 and was found to be leaning  9.5 inches to the northwest.

The Tower may be leaning because of the construction of a four story car park under the Palace or because of the construction of the Jubilee line. There have been more unexplained movements and the Tower has tilted   further. There are cracks in the building due to age and probably movement over the years.

Is it going to tilt even further, or even topple over?

Tourists have remarked that they can see it is leaning. If you come and visit London see if you can see that its  leaning.

The Tower is not open to tourists but it has a staircase consisting of 334 steps to the top of the Tower.

Big Ben is the name of the bell but the Clock and Tower are known as Big Ben by the public.

Memorabilia of Big Ben…….

There are two theories surrounding the naming of the bell Big Ben.

The first is after Sir Benjamin Hall, the Chief commissioner of works when the bell was to be manufactured.

The second theory is after a boxer Benjamin Caunt who weighed 18 stone and fought a fight for 60 rounds in 1857.

Famous Landmarks In London

This brings us to this fantastic video of The Palace of Westminster regarding the restoration of the building.

And this other great video

Related items

And i’m sure you haven’t forgotten that Westminster Palace is also the Famous Landmark in London where Guy Fawkes a Roman Catholic convert and his conspirators were caught on 5th November 1605 in a plot to blow up King James 1 , his ministers and the members of parliament.

There’s a statue of Richard the Lion Heart in Old Palace Yard outside the Houses of Parliament in the House of Lords car park.

Richard 1 reigned between 1189-1199.

You can find this statue of Richard the Lion Heart in Old Palace Yard.  Erected in 1860.

For further reading on Richard the lion Heart………………….

For further reading on The Palace of Westminster……………………..

And finally check out the other pages on this site to find more Famous Landmarks in London.