History London: To Do + See

Along Peter Pan’s Route: Climbing Big Ben

April 13, 2011

Not to be a TOTAL tourist,
but I have to tell you about one of the most exciting things I’ve done so far

(okay, there have been many)

I put on my Tinker Bell wings and paid Big Ben a little visit

They only give small private tours, which are free but require a bit of planning ahead

(even Tinker Bell needed a background check)

Tour Big Ben

It was so exciting to be inside one of the most recognized structures in the world!
We climbed a dizzying 334 steps

And literally gasped when we saw the backside of the clock face made of white glass

We could see the shadows of the hands and numbers

Absolutely magnificent

Notice the light bulbs on the opposite wall?
They light the face at night

One piece of glass opens for maintenance and for shooing birds away

(which has stopped the clock in the past)

Peter Pan flies through that little window sometimes too

The clock was built in Victorian times

This famous clock is still wound three times a week by hand

They use a sophisticated method of changing the speed of the pendulum swing…

weighing it down with coins!

Afraid of heights: Need Not Apply

We wore ‘ear defenders’ (ear plugs) for the chime and bongs at noon

We held onto the wall for support due to the vibration

It was spectacular

Although there are 5 bells, Big Ben is the name of the biggest bell

It has a crack and hole in it

The tune of the famous Westminster chime came from Handel’s Messiah

During the First World War, the clock tower’s lights and chime were turned off

to hide in the darkness from low flying enemy blimps

And although its lights also went out during WWII, the chime remained a sound of hope for the city

Nearby ‘London Eye’ in Spring

If you reside in the UK (and at least 12 yrs old),

you absolutely must contact your local council and go on this behind-the-scenes tour

Watch out for that ‘cheeky’ Peter Pan and Capt’n Hook on the way there

Read 21 Unique Things To Do In London

Exterior photos by me

Interior photos & clock face cleaners from parliament.uk

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