Big Ben | Celebrating the world-famous clock tower

The Great Palace: The Story of Parliament | Victorian Masterpiece

A view inside Britain's world famous Houses of Parliament.

CHANNEL | BBC 2

FIRST BROADCAST | 17 November 1983

DURATION | 49 minutes 16 seconds

FIRSTBROADCAST

1983

Synopsis

The Palace of Westminster is the legacy of architects Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. They began rebuilding Parliament after a fire all but destroyed it in 1834. Constructed on a site with 800 years of political history, this comparatively small seat of government has commanded respect ever since. Contributors who pay homage in this programme include then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who drew inspiration from its designs. Meanwhile, chiming reassuringly in the background is Big Ben, the palace's crowning glory.

Did you know?

The two architects with their different skills made for a successful partnership. On his colleague's advice, Barry modelled Big Ben on the clock tower of Scarisbrick Hall, which Pugin had designed. In contrast, their sons were uncompromising towards each other and disagreed on their fathers' achievements. Charles Barry's son Edward assisted with the upper parts of the clock tower and carried out his father's wishes by completing the Palace of Westminster.

Contributors

Christopher Jones
Presenter
Anthony Quayle
Narrator
Sir Hugh Casson
Contributor
Sir Robin Cooke
Contributor
Charles James Dugnale (Lord Crathorne, 2nd Baron)
Contributor
Ian Grant
Contributor
Donald Insall
Contributor
Wynn Lewis
Contributor
Phyllis Rogers
Contributor
Neil Simmons
Contributor
Contributor
Hugh John Vaughan Campbell (Earl of Cawdor)
Contributor
Clive Wainwright
Contributor
Alexandra Wedgwood
Contributor
Edward Elgar
Composer
Alan Scales
Producer
Executive Producer

Associated subjects

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Galleries

Close up of the inside of the Westminster clock face.

Big Ben

Photographs of Big Ben dating back to the 1920s.

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