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Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower official guide book

The ‘Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower’ official guide gives a fascinating insight into the trials and tribulations of the world’s most beloved clock tower.

As the tower and its renowned bell, Big Ben, undergo a period of essential refurbishment, the history behind this remarkable building continues to captivate and enthral visitors from around the world.


Purchase the guide

This beautifully illustrated 68 page book can be purchased from Parliament’s shops at Westminster and the online shop.


The stories surrounding Parliament’s celebrated landmark never cease to amaze and this souvenir guide contains stunning photographs, designs and reproductions of artwork, as well as records from the Parliamentary Archives that brings to life the truths, myths and people involved in the creation of this inimitable building.

The guide is divided into six sections:

  • History: Find out how advances in Victorian innovation, science and technology inspired Parliament’s new clock tower.
  • Inside the Elizabeth Tower: A total of 399 winding steps connect eleven floors, a clock mechanism room, the clock itself, and the belfry containing the famous ‘Big Ben’ bell.
  • The Clock and the Clock Room: Discover how bitter rivalry erupted between the three clockmakers, who fiercely competed to win the clock tower contact.
  • The Bells and the Belfry: The casting of Big Ben and its four quarter bells were born of frustrating delays, bad communication and bitter conflict. Yet they survived the turmoil and Big Ben made its first strike on 11 July 1859.
  • The Ayrton Light: Beginning as a single, great, gas jet flame, the light remains to this day, a reminder to monarch and country that Parliament is sitting.
  • Heritage, Conservation and Maintenance: See superb images of the Gothic clock faces, buttresses and columns, and learn how the clock tower is conserved and maintained.


The guide was compiled by a team of experts, including staff, who look after the clock tower, the belfry and its bells, as well as the technological treasures it contains.

Contact information

Houses of Parliament Shop

  • 12 Bridge Street, Parliament Square
  • London SW1A 2JX
  • Phone 020 7219 3890
  • Fax 020 7219 3866
  • Email