Big Ben's Bongs Are Back For Good

Big Ben's Bongs Are Back For Good
Big Ben at 11 o clock
Big Ben's back. Image: iStock.com/maynardcase

Big Ben gets its bongs back full-time this November — after it strikes 11 on Remembrance Sunday.

During extensive conservation work, which started in 2017, the chimes of the famous clocktower bells were silenced — only returning on special occasions, such as New Year's Eve and the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

However, at 11am on Sunday 13 November, the quarter bells will peal, followed by 11 strikes of the great bell, all heralding the customary two-minute silence to remember the fallen. From then on, Big Ben will be back in action around the clock... if that's not too confusing a phrase.

The quarter bells shown hung around Big Ben, December 1858. Image: public domain

And in fact, you'll be able to hear Big Ben chime twice before then. On Tuesday 8 November from 3pm, people in the Westminster vicinity should be able to hear the famous chimes intermittently, as the quarter bells and Big Big are tested. On Friday 11 November — Armistice Day itself — Big Ben will also strike 11.

The restoration of the Elizabeth Tower has taken five years, and reportedly ran £80m over budget.

13 November marks exactly 166 years since Big Ben was first struck, and a Times reporter described the sound as "Like a potent poison, the vibration penetrates every vein in the body; it strikes every nerve, it attacks and tries every fibre in the muscle, it makes your bones rattle and your marrow creep."

Londoners have come to love the sound since then.

Last Updated 11 November 2022

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