Sunday, February 13, 2011

Big Ben - The Clock Tower

Big Ben is not open to the public. Perhaps the most famous clock and chimes in the world, Big Ben is actually the name of the biggest bell (13.5 tons) inside the Clock Tower (320 meters), part of the Chambers Parliament. Built in 1858 / 9 the bell was named after Sir Benjamin Hall and when it was released was a heaviest bell in Britain.

The four clock dials each have a diameter of 23 feet, minutes hands are 14 feet long and the numbers in each face are nearly 2 feet tall. The placement of ancient coins in the mechanism for checking the accuracy of the movement, however, is incredibly accurate.

The tower that houses Big Ben has been called by many names, one of the most popular is St Stephen's Tower. from the official line of the Head of Public Information at the Palace is that Clock Tower is simply called The Clock Tower. However, the name Big Ben was in daily use and the locals call it Big Ben, so we will going along with it too.

There is a light at the top of the tower, when lit, tells that the House of Commons is sitting. During the day you can see if they're sitting in a banner near the top of Victoria Tower, which is the highest and largest of the towers of Westminster.

The subject of John Buchan '39, Steps', the Clock Tower is unfortunately not open to the public so that they will not be able to verify the number of steps actually lead to the belfry.

However, we can say that there are 39 - is actually closer to 400, depending on where it begins and ends.
It is generally believed that Buchan came up with the idea of using the 39 steps at a time when he was recovering from illness in a nursing home. Directly in front of your window there were 39 steps leading to the courtyard lawn!

The room in which the mechanism of the actual clock is full of mechanical marvels Victorian genius and the band every time the clock strikes the hour.

The Ding-dongs that precede the striking of the hour were taken from George Frederick Handel's "Messiah," and really have too many lyrics.
"During all this time,
Lord is my guide,
By his power,
No foot shall slide. "
The clock rings at the forefront in the quarter after the hour, the first and second every half hour, three lines in the quarter and all the time!

Address: Houses of Parliament, Parliament Square, Westminster, London, SW1A 2NE

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