Big Ben 1859-2009

Big Ben

The name Big Ben is often used to describe the tower, the clock and the bell but the name was first given to the Great Bell.

The Elizabeth Tower was completed in 1859 and the Great Clock started on 31 May, with the Great Bell's strikes heard for the first time on 11 July and the quarter bells first chimed on 7 September.

Inside the Elizabeth Tower

Want to know what goes on behind the scenes? Take an online tour and find out how the Great Clock keeps going.

Facts and figures

How high? How heavy? How accurate? Everything you ever wanted to know about Big Ben

Key dates: Big Ben and Elizabeth Tower

Key dates

Find out about the history of the Elizabeth Tower; from the first medieval clock tower built in the old Palace of Westminster to the design and construction of the present Elizabeth Tower and its 150th anniversary in 2009

Big Ben downloads

Big Ben downloads and e-cards

Download Big Ben ringtones, banners and wallpapers

Frequently asked questions: Big Ben and Elizabeth Tower

Frequently asked questions

Find the answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the Elizabeth Tower

Related information

Living Heritage

Like this page on Big Ben?  Find out more about the fascinating history of Parliament, its buildings and how it has affected the lives of everyone over the centuries in Living Heritage
Climb Big Ben

The Elizabeth Tower is the name of the famous tower of Parliament - more popularly known as Big Ben. Although often referred to as Big Ben, this is actually the nickname of the bell housed within the Elizabeth Tower - and Big Ben's official name is the Great Bell.

Race Against Chime

Big Ben's clock dial needs a good clean in time for its 150th anniversary party. Can you swing to the rescue?

Play this addictive game by Parliament's Education Service, produced for Big Ben's 150th anniversary in 2009.