"the great bell of Westminster"
The clock tower of Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster
GNU Free Documentation LicenseThe clock tower of Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster - Credit: David Iliff

The bell in Westminster’s clock tower is known as Big Ben – a name which extends to the clock face – and is a London landmark and British icon. It is the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and has stood at the north end of the Palace of Westminster since 1859.

Named in honour of Sir Benjamin Hall, the MP and civil engineer responsible for its installation, the 13.5 ton bell has been cracked since 1859 when the striking hammer damaged it – despite this, the bell continues to chime, albeit with a slight twang. Four other bells housed in the belfry play the Westminster Quarters every fifteen minutes.

In June 2012, the bell tower was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. Although not open to the public, it is possible to arrange a tour of the tower to see Big Ben through an MP.