Here's something that'll get any London aficionado's bell chiming: new tours of the Elizabeth Tower.
Often referred to as Big Ben (although tbh we're not fussed what you call it), the Elizabeth Tower is the 96m-high building which houses Big Ben — the largest of the bells — plus the four smaller bells, and the inner workings of those four clock faces.
Now the public is being given a chance to climb up 334 steps inside it, and stand next to the bell as it strikes the hour — which, given that the first incarnation of the "unearthly, sepulchral" bell made people's "marrow creep", sounds like quite a challenge on the lugholes.
It's the first time that the full public tours have been restarted since the lengthy conservation project on the tower, which silenced the bells for several years, and cloaked the world-famous clock faces under scaffolding — though shorter, preview tours were offered earlier this year. It's also the first time that international visitors will be allowed inside, as previously UK residents had to organise tours through their own MP.
Tours start in Westminster Hall, which hosted the Lying-in-State of Queen Elizabeth II last year, before crossing New Palace Yard to the Elizabeth Tower. In addition to getting up close to the bells, the tour includes a visit to the clock mechanism room where the clock dials are kept ticking over — or not, as was the case recently — and to rooms which have never been opened to the public before.
Tickets for the tours in October go on sale at 10am on Wednesday 12 July on the UK Parliament website — and we expect they'll be very popular — priced at £25 per adult/£10 for 11-17 year olds. After this, tickets will be made available for future months on the second Wednesday of each month at 10am, on a rolling basis. Note that you won't be allowed to take photographs inside the tower.