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View of Big Ben from Westminster Bridge

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A view of Big Ben (properly known as St Stephen's Tower - Big Ben is actually one of the bells inside the tower) taken from Westminster Bridge on a cold and snowy morning in February, 2009.

UK Parliament and Dr .. added this photo to their favorites.

  1. The Duke of Waltham 60 months ago | reply

    Correction: it is not properly called "St Stephen's Tower", either. It's name is simply "The Clock Tower". I know it doesn't sound very impressive, but what can I say; there's over a thousand rooms to name in that building...

    This is St Stephen's Tower:

    St Stephen's Hall entrance

  2. Jessicastjohn 60 months ago | reply

    Thank you. But on the Stephen's Tower point, my understanding is, yes and no. The tower which houses Big Ben is commonly refered to as St.Stephen's Tower - as a quick google search will show. Indeed, just opposite used to stand St Stephen's House before it was demolished in the 1990s to make way for Portcullis House. But it is not the name used by House of Commons authorities which usually refer to it as The Clock Tower or the Westminster Clock Tower. I guess this is to avoid confusion with Stephen's Entrance, which is the photo you posted, which has also come to be known as St Stephen's Tower - and was used by Commons authorities in the recent refurbishment project. St Stephen's Entrance opens up into St Stephen's Porch and then into St Stephen's Hall, so it's easy to see how the confusion arose. With a building which is in parts almost a 1,000 years old and, as you say, with well over a thousand rooms, nomenclature shifts over time and is often indistinct. At least that's my tuppennyworth. But hey, I've worked there since '93 and still don't know my way around, so what do I know?

  3. The Duke of Waltham 60 months ago | reply

    You work there... I suddenly love you fifty times more. (Don't be fooled, though; I don't know you, so that remains stuck to 0.) For about a month now, I have been doing research on the Palace of Westminster, with the dual purpose of getting to know a building I am extremely fond of, and ultimately giving back to its Wikipedia article its long-lost Featured Article star.

    A long uphill struggle, considering that I live in a modest-sized town in Greece (therefore far away from most primary and secondary printed sources), and have no particular experience in researching, but I am making steady improvement. Still, I expect this to take me a very long time... So it's a good thing that I like the subject.

    Regarding St Stephen's Hall, I'd summarise the situation thus: neither Big Ben nor St Stephen's Tower is official usage, but the former is much more popular. Either is more interesting than the official name, and the public obviously dislikes uninteresting names (see 30 St Mary Axe)—that can be problematic in terms of accuracy, but at least the inability to direct the people in this way is symbolic of their power over the occupants of the Palace. The supreme will of the public, the elected representatives of which...

    All right; now I'm just ranting.

  4. The Duke of Waltham 59 months ago | reply

    "The Bell is Big Ben, the tower is the Clock Tower - not St. Stephen's." I'm not sure how much this adds to the argument, but at least it clarifies modern practice. Most people call the tower Big Ben, so this might have made it a de facto alternative name, but is the usage of St Stephen's Tower similarly overwhelming? I don't think so.

    And now there's the other St Stephen's Tower, which I'm not even sure qualifies as a tower. It's more like a wing...

    (I'm also not sure these offices have direct access to the rest of the Palace, considering that there is this huge window in the middle. I'm thinking that either there's a corridor in the roof, or, more likely, one has to use a staircase near St Stephen's Entrance, perhaps inside one of the corner turrets.)

  5. Waterford_Man 52 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called It's (still) not about you!, and we'd love to have this added to the group!