A Million Big Bens


 

GRACIE 

That is the name of my piece of art that I spent a lot of yesterday doing.  I was inspired by my visit to Big Ben, but I decided to take a slightly unusual approach. I made a Big Ben out of ‘A Million Big Bens’.

 

My masterpiece!

My masterpiece!

If you look closely, you will be able to see my style. You will understand why I called it ‘A Million Big Bens.

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My visit to the Queen Elizabeth Tower, as it was named in honour of our queen’s Diamond Jubilee, was very special. Most people are content to stand and stare and have their photo taken in front of one of Britain’s most iconic and impressive buildings. Well, not me!

My friend Tiger and I went to Portcullis house. It was VERY grand. Here we were to begin our tour up the Elizabeth Tower and into the famous belfry, where we would be when Big Ben struck five o’clock.

The huge building was extremely high security. Tiger and I were very excited about being checked and searched.

We went down an escalator and then entered a low stone tunnel. It was all still very posh. Men in the smartest suits carrying briefcases and women with loads of makeup and some very tight dresses.

Then we were finally in Big Ben! We looked up and saw a spiralling staircase, it seemed to go on forever. We began to climb.

Eventually we reached the first stop. Everyone was totally out of breath. Our guide told us a little bit of history, there was so much information. It was incredible. Did you know that Big Ben was made by the Warners Bell Foundry?  It was delivered to London by boat and then paraded through the streets on a cart pulled by magnificent horses.  How did the bell get up to the belfry? Well, it was hauled up the 63 metre weight shaft by a team of around sixteen men. They used only a hand powered winch.

We went in the clock rooms, all four of them. The north facing one, the south facing one, the east facing one and the west facing one. At one point I reached out and touched the inner side of the clock face. It was huge! We saw the lights that illuminate the clock at night. The clock is actually accurate, within the  second. Isn’t that amazing?

Once the clock was five minutes behind time, but there’s a funny story about that. A flock of starlings landed on the minute hand and made it late. I forgot to mention that there is one removable pane of glass in the face. Someone working up there at the time removed the piece of glass, stuck a broom out of the hole and scared all of the starlings away! Ha ha ha!

Going up the spiral staircase was amazing.  Because through the gap in the middle you can see all the way to the floor, which was quite scary.

The mechanism room was crazy. Cogs, pendulums, pennies, weights, scales, wheels, I didn’t get how it all worked. Evan would have loved it. Where was my inventor brother when I needed him?

My favourite bit was the belfry. There was  Big Ben. Wow! It was bronze, a mixture of tin and copper,  and the thing that struck me most was it’s sheer enormity. There was something so cool about this giant king of bells. It was beautiful. The four chime bells sat around it like pawns protecting the king in a game of chess.

The belfry is actually open, the wind blew through and I was very cold,  but I didn’t care. The view down was slightly sickening, it made me feel quite nervous. I didn’t want to look down, but my eyes felt drawn to the fascinating view a long way below.


Big Ben is so grand on the outside. But I noticed how, on the inside, it's very tidy, but it's quite simple. There is no gold gilding or beautiful furnishing.

Big Ben is so grand on the outside. But I noticed how, on the inside, it’s very tidy, but it’s quite simple. There is no gold gilding or beautiful furnishing.

I still can’t quite believe that I was up there when Big Ben chimed five. I can’t even recall the moment it started, but I do know that the whole series of chimes were very loud. Tremendously loud. Even with the ear plugs that were provided.

On the way down, Tiger and I wearily counted the steps. There were 334. So we did 668 steps in total, WOW!

Well, I absolutely totally loved my tour. I thank Sarah, Tiger’s Mum, for taking me along.

It was one of the best trips out ever!

I was up there, behind that clock face!

I was up there, behind that clock face!

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This is a really handy little guide to Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower. It has lots of quick facts and a brief history.

 

 

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