When the old Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire on the 16th October 1834, a competition was announced for the design of a new palace building. Over 97 entries were received and in January 1836, it was announced that the competition had been won by the 40 year-old English architect Charles Barry. Barry soon recruited Augustus Pugin, one of leading lights of the neo-gothic movement, to assist with the project.
The foundation stone for the Clock Tower was laid on 28th September 1843 and it wouldn’t be completed until 1859. The Clock Tower was built from the inside outwards, meaning that no scaffolding was ever visible to the outside world. The Neo-Gothic style of the Clock Tower is particularly emphasized by the ornate decorations of its upper floors and the clock dials. Each dial is seven meters (23 ft.) in diameter and made from cast iron and 312 separate pieces of pot opal glass.
Big Ben was the unofficial name given to the tower’s Great Bell. It was the largest bell in the Britain at the time and named after either Sir Benjamin Hall, the first Works Commissioner, or Ben Caunt, a champion heavyweight boxer. The Clock Tower or Big Ben, has stood at the northeastern corner of the Palace of Westminster for over 150 years. Today it’s one of the most recognized landmarks in the world, and an iconic symbol of both London and England.