I know I am not alone in my love for Big Ben. This famous clock tower is the most synonymous icon with the United Kingdom. When you Google search London, Big Ben will always be among the top search results for this transcendent city. It’s the primo location shot in many films and Big Ben still one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.
Everyone has their own love story with Big Ben and I thought I’d share mine with you.
How My Love of Big Ben Started
The first time this young wide-eyed girl saw Big Ben was in the 1953 Disney animated film, Peter Pan. The next occurrence was in the ground-breaking masterpiece, with both live action and animation, of Mary Poppins. I was hooked and believed this clock tower was practically perfect in every way.
As an adult, I am still very sentimental when it comes to Big Ben. In fact, I have a confession to make. I dearly love the Tinker Bell films produced by DisneyToon Studios. I’ve watched each one several times. The animation is flipping amazing, the stories are very clever, and nearly every film includes a shot of Big Ben. Each time I watch the films and see that iconic clock tower, I cry.
I realized the tears were of longing. I fell in love with Big Ben, as a little girl, and wanted to see this amazing clock tower in person. The closest I’ve come, thus far, was seeing it on Periscope. The most amazing experience was a broadcast of the clock tower at midnight all lit up. The quarter bells would chime first, preceding the “father bell” and then, I heard him. It was Ben, the big bell, ringing out 12 times with that unmistakable BONG! Once again, I found myself shedding tears of both joy and longing. The sound was music to my ears but fueled the ache in my heart to personally see my beloved Big Ben.
A Few Facts about Big Ben
Before I get into the reasons why I love Big Ben, I thought I’d share a few interesting facts.
In 2012, for her Diamond Jubilee, the famous London clock tower was renamed the Elizabeth Tower after Queen Elizabeth II.
The bells of Big Ben were silenced during a few notable events:
- Winston Churchill’s funeral on January 30, 1965
- Margaret Thatcher’s funeral on April 17, 2013
- A lengthy maintenance that was performed for 33 hours on October 25, 2005, on the clock and chimes.
The chimes of this iconic clock tower were first broadcasted by the BBC on December 31, 1923. It is a tradition that continues to this day.
No Outsiders Allowed
The saddest fact I’ve learned, about Big Ben, was its restriction to outsiders. Only UK residents may tour the interior and it must be arranged by a Member of Parliament.
10 Reasons Why I Love Big Ben
Aside from being the number one tourist attraction of the UK, here’s my list of the top ten reasons why I love Big Ben.
- The Nickname – the name “Big Ben” refers to the Great Bell of the famous London clock tower. It was speculated this nickname came from Sir Benjamin Hall, the overseer of the Great Bell installation. Another possibility of this nickname comes from English Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Benjamin Caunt.
- Clock Face – there are 312 pieces of opal glass in each clock dial. A special light is illuminated above the clock faces when parliament is in session.
- The Great Bell – the incomparable “bong” comes from a patched crack in the bell due to the faulty design of the original hammer. The bell was repaired, given an eighth of a turn, and fitted with a proper hammer to apply the correct striking force.
- At Night –the entire tower is lit up at night and then goes into “lights out” mode after the stroke of midnight. After the stroke of twelve, only the clock faces are still illuminated.
- Big Ben’s Survival– After a bomb destroyed the House of Commons chamber during WWII, the clock tower survived and Big Ben continued to chime every hour.
- Queen Victoria – the Latin words, at the base of each clock dial, DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM, which means O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First.
- Location, Location – Big Ben has been named the most popular film location and seen in countless TV shows and movies.
- Worth Its Weight in Pennies – a stack of pennies is piled on the pendulum to regulate the clock’s time.
- Washing Up – using only soap and water, a group of window washers will abseil (rappel) from the belfry down to the clock faces to give them a proper washing up. This cleaning is performed every 5 years.
- New Year’s Eve – this famous clock tower is the focal point of London’s New Year’s Eve celebration, highlighted by a massive fireworks display.
Do You Love Big Ben Too?
Is anyone else in love with this iconic London clock tower? If so, why? Log into our website and post your comments.