Visitors to the United Kingdom may be familiar with the London Bridge, Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street, the Victoria and Albert Museum or the Tower of London from guide books or via travel, but the Big Ben needs a bit more explaining and deserves its true history to be revealed as it’s undeniably one of London’s main and most famous landmarks!
1. Ring any Bells?
If ever you had heard of the Big Ben and never heard the actual Big Ben, be informed that this term actually refers to the largest bell in Clock Tower of Westminster, which is at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, England. Different designers were behind the grand structure’s clock, tower, but the Great Bell or “Big Ben” was first cast in Stockton-on-Tees by John Warner & Sons, however this prototype cracked upon first testing and another smaller bell was cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry which also found its way to be cracked. Three years later, a square piece of metal around the rim of the crack was effectively chipped out to repair the new bell, which was turned an eighth of a turn but when the hammer struck the new spot, the bell had a new sound, and had never changed since.
2. What’s in a Name
The Big Ben is a nickname that had wound its way to the clock and the clock tower itself, however, newbies in London can now associate the whole thing more directly to their queen. In 2012, the Big Ben was officially renamed Elizabeth Tower in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee Year – her 60th year on the throne. Big Ben was purportedly named after either Sir Benjamin Hall, the First Commissioner for Works, or after heavyweight boxer Benjamin Gaunt, both prominent contemporaries of the bell.
3. The Sound
Since we’d established the Big Ben as also referring to the clock and clock tower, it’s the world’s largest four-faced chiming clock. During World War II, their broadcasted chimes signalled that Britain had not yet been defeated. The Westminster Chimes, resounding every quarterhour, were the “Cambridge Chimes,” first sounded at Great Mary’s Cambridge. Big Ben itself, we note, the Great Bell itself, is the hour bell chiming the note E.
4. New Year’s Celebration
United Kingdom tunes in to the chimes of the Big Ben to welcome the new year, wherein radio and TV stations closely broadcast the countdown live as the country’s focal New Year tradition. Actually, it was in the New Year of 1924 that the chimes were first broadcasted on radio.
5. Inscribed and Enlightened
Along each of the clock faces are the Latin inscriptions “Domine salvam fac Reginam nostrum Victoriam Primam” or “O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First” in gold lettering. Now, children can assemble their own Big Ben LEGO sets, part of the LEGO Architecture series; and, on the line of government and assemblies, a light in the Big Ben tells whenever the House of Commons is in session.
The Big Ben can mean many things; you should know that it had become a part of British history and culture and deserves its place as one of its most iconic features.
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