Back in May 2015 went on a tour of the Elizabeth Tower.
We were on a London Walk (not just for tourists – even though I lived in London for 15 years I found the walks fascinating) and the guide mentioned that if you contacted your MP they could arrange for you to tour the tower. I wrote to our MP, Andrew Smith (who has now stood down from his position as MP for Oxford East) and he arranged places on the tour for us. I believe the tours are only available to UK residents (don’t hold me to that, things may have changed since we went) and they are free to go on but at the moment the tours of Big Ben and the Elizabeth tower have been suspended until 2021 while refurbishment work is being carried out. When the tours are running again it can be a long wait from your request to being offered a date but it was worth it.
We climbed the 334 steps in stages, stopping on each floor for a chance to see more of the mechanics of the bell tower and clocks, including a chance to stand inside of the huge clock faces which was surreal. We got to the Belfry and stood, with earplugs and fingers in ears, next to Big Ben as 3pm struck.
As you would expect security on the tours is tight and you’re security checked before your place on the tour is confirmed, sadly no cameras are allowed in the tower. There were so many photographs I wish I could have taken, especially the amazing view over London from the Belfry but it was nice to enjoy the day without viewing things through a lens for a change.