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Big Ben, bell.

Point of fact: You have very likely never actually seen Big Ben in London.

“Oh no,” you say, “I’ve been there. Big tower, big clock, lots of noise, connected to the Houses of Parliament. I’ve seen it.”

Well, unless you climbed the 334 steps to the belfry above the clock, no, friend, you haven’t.

Big Ben is not the name of the tower or even the clock in the iconic landmark. It’s the central bell in the five-bell set of the spire.

Hung in 1859, the bell, whose name now universally applies to the tower, sounds the E note in the set, and is big, if nothing else.

Weighing in at more than 15 tons, it has a nine-foot diameter and stands seven feet tall, and is also known as the Great Bell, said Sam Jones, from Parliament’s information department.

There are two theories on whom it is named after, he said. One guess is prizefighter Ben Caunt, who had the same nickname at the time, and the other is then-Commissioner of Works Sir Benjamin Hall, a more likely choice by most accounts.

Not that the rest of the landmark is small: The tower rises to 316 feet and the Roman numerals in the clock face are each two feet long.

Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around the United Kingdom? E-mail us at: uknews@mail.estripes.osd.mil

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