Big Ben History Facts Big Ben in Popular Culture



Interesting Facts about Big Ben

Much attention is given to the chimes of Big Ben. But how much do we know about the famous Westminster clock? There are many people who ask when was Big Ben built or who built it, but for these facts you can easily find an answer on our site. 

On this page you can find some interesting and lesser known facts about Big Ben: 

1. Although now generally applied to the clock and tower, the name 'Big Ben' was originally given to the hour bell cast by John Warner and Sons in 1856. 

2. The 'Ben' in the name is thought to be a tribute to Sir Benjamin Hall, commissioner of works for the project, who was, appropriately, a man of great size. 

3. The diameter of each of the clock's four dials is 23ft and each contains 312 panes of glass. 

4. The hour hands are 9ft long, the minute hands are 14ft long, and the numerals are 2ft high.  

5. The hour bell - Big Ben itself - chimes the note E.  

6. The 'Westminster Chimes', played on the quarterhour, were once the Cambridge Chimes, having first sounded on the clock at Great St Mary's, Cambridge.  

7. In 1857, the original Big Ben bell cracked under the weight of the striking hammer. See bellow a picture of New Big Ben Bell from that period: 

The New Big Ben Bell 1858
The New Big Ben Bell 1858

8. The base of each clock face bears a Latin phrase: 'Domine salvam fac reginam nostram Victoriam Primam'. This means 'Lord save our Queen Victoria I'. 

9. The first radio broadcast of Big Ben's chimes was to welcome in the New Year of 1924.  

10. Big Ben's clock lost four-and-a-half minutes in August 1949 when a flock of starlings perched on a minute hand.  

Big Ben Colck Tower
Big Ben Clock Tower

Big Ben London
Big Ben Tower