What are some alternative or colloquial names for Big Ben?

Travel Destinations

By Lucas Reynolds

The famous clock tower in London

One of the most iconic landmarks in London and a symbol of the city is the clock tower located in the Palace of Westminster. The tower is known worldwide as Big Ben, but did you know that it has several alternative names used by locals and historians?

Why is it called Big Ben?

Before we dive into the alternative names, it’s important to understand why the clock tower is called Big Ben. Contrary to popular belief, Big Ben is not the name of the tower, but the nickname of the Great Bell that is housed within the tower. The bell weighs 13.5 tonnes and was cast in 1858. It received the name Big Ben after Sir Benjamin Hall, the First Commissioner of Works, who oversaw the installation of the bell. Over time, the nickname extended to the clock tower itself.

Alternative names used by locals

Londoners have come up with various alternative or colloquial names for the clock tower over the years. Some of these names are based on the tower’s official names, while others are simply humorous or descriptive.

The Great Bell: Official name of the bell

As mentioned earlier, the bell within the clock tower is officially known as the Great Bell. This name is rarely used by locals, but it’s still worth mentioning as it’s the most accurate term.

Westminster Clock Tower: Another official name

Another official name for the clock tower is Westminster Clock Tower. This name is often used by historians and architects when referring to the tower. It is a straightforward name that accurately describes the tower’s location and function.

The Clock Tower: Simple and straightforward

The Clock Tower is a simple and straightforward name that most people use to refer to the tower. It is a practical name that accurately describes the tower’s purpose, but not very imaginative.

The Elizabeth Tower: Honoring the monarch

In 2012, the clock tower was officially named the Elizabeth Tower to honor Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. The name change was approved by the House of Commons and the House of Lords. It’s a fitting tribute to the long-reigning monarch.

The Tower of Parliament: Descriptive and historical

The Tower of Parliament is another descriptive name that is often used by historians and tourists. The name refers to the fact that the clock tower is located within the Palace of Westminster, which is also known as the Houses of Parliament.

The Chimes: Referring to the sound

The chimes are the sound emitted by the Great Bell every hour. Some locals refer to the clock tower as the Chimes, as it’s the sound that they associate with the tower.

The Four-faced liar: A humorous nickname

The Four-faced liar is a humorous nickname for the clock tower that refers to the four clock faces on each side of the tower. The name is a play on words, as a "four-faced liar" is a person who tells different stories to different people.

The leaning tower of Westminster: A nod to Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Westminster is a playful nickname that refers to the slight tilt of the clock tower. The tower is not as dramatically tilted as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but it’s enough to give it a distinctive character.

Conclusion: A landmark with many names

As you can see, the clock tower in London has many alternative or colloquial names used by locals, historians, and tourists. From the official names to the humorous nicknames, each name reflects a different aspect of the tower’s history and character. Whatever you call it, the clock tower is an iconic symbol of London that will continue to delight and inspire visitors for generations to come.

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Lucas Reynolds

Lucas Reynolds, the mastermind behind TravelAsker's compelling content, originates from the charming Sedona, Arizona. A genuine local, he shares deep insights into the region, unveiling its enchanting attractions, tranquil resorts, welcoming accommodations, diverse dining options, and engaging pastimes. Lucas invites readers to explore captivating experiences within the stunning landscapes of Sedona and beyond, ensuring unforgettable adventures.

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