- Big Ben
- Big Ben, the famous bell in the Clock Tower that strikes the hour over the British Houses of Parliament and is sounded by the British Broadcasting Company throughout the world, was originally cast in 1856. But the fifteen-ton bell showed a serious crack, justifying a recasting. The new bell was completed in 1858, and it weighed some thirteen tons. The first stroke of the bell marked the hour; four smaller bells the quarter hour, and these were first broadcast in 1923.The bell was to be named "St. Stephen," but a whimsical use in the press of "Big Ben" caught the public's fancy, and that name persisted, honoring Sir Benjamin Hall (1802-1869), the chief commissioner of works at that time. Hall had nothing to do with the construction of the bell; it was just that the bell was cast during his term in office. A strange incident occurred on the morning of March 14, 1861. As related, "the inhabitants of Westminster were roused by repeated strokes of the new great bell, and most persons supposed it was for the death of a member of the royal family. It proved, however, to be due to some derangement of the clock, for at four and five o'clock ten and twelve strokes were struck instead of the proper number." Within the next twenty-four hours, word came that the Duchess of Kent (Queen Victoria's mother) was dying. She died early March 16. Did the clock toll for her?
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.