The British Tours blog

Big Ben Tours – Why Big Ben is the most iconic London sight

A visit to London is never complete without a mesmerizing tour of this lovely and historic city; Big Ben is by no means an exception.  Big Ben’s official name is the Elizabeth Tower, but local residents have affectionately nicknamed her “Big Ben” after the nickname of the Great Bell that is housed within the stunning Elizabeth Tower. This massive clock tower is considered by many to be the most iconic sight in the city, not only for its spectacular view, but also for its colourful and inspiring history.

Guided tours of Big Ben will take its visitors up 334 spiral steps to the top of the 62 metre high clock tower to hear Big Ben strike the hour, as well as a unique opportunity to visit the mechanism room where you can learn about how Big Ben’s clock works. These tours are available free to UK residents, but require to be sponsored by a Member of Parliament or a Member of the House of Lords.

The actual origin of the nickname is not known; however there are 2 theories; one that is was named after the commissioner of works Sir Benjamin Hall who because of his large size was lovingly known in the house as Big Ben. The other theory is that it was named after heavy weight boxing champion Benjamin Caunt who was also referred to as Big Ben. Historians and landmark enthusiasts have argued these theories for decades.

Aside from its timeless beauty, masterwork construction, and unfaltering timekeeping, is the sensational history that surrounds it. Most notably its role in the Second World War, during this time Big Ben’s chimes were heard the world over on the BBC World Service radio. During the blitz people would listen for Big Bens uplifting chimes, it was these chimes that let the world know that Great Britain had not yet been defeated, which offered people a much needed feeling of comfort and hope.

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