Big Ben, London and the Houses of Parliament

London's Big Ben is not the tower, but the bell in the tower, that forms part of our Houses of Parliament.

Officially called the Palace of Westminster, there was a royal palace here in the middle ages. Henry VIII gave it over to government. A fire almost completely destroyed the old palace in 1834. The present building was built in the distinctive Victorian Gothis between 1840 and 1860 by Sir Charles Barry and A W Pugin

The great bell is named after the first Commissioner of Works, Sir Benjamin Hall. Also in the clock tower is a prison cell for MPs who transgress against Parliamentary privilage - it was last used in 1880 for this purpose

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Big Ben, London