Motorists travelling along the A51 in Cheshire between Chester and Nantwich may think they are seeing things when they see Big Ben in a field. But they're not.

Local businessmen Chris Sadler and Mike Harper built a straw replica of London's great icon in a field by the side of the road to celebrate Big Ben's 150th birthday.

The sculpture, made with 500 bales and weighing 20 tonnes, was completed on Saturday and will stay up until after Christmas.

Britain's Houses of Parliament are situated in the Palace of Westminster.

Britain's former Houses of Parliament were burnt down in a huge fire in 1834 (a stove used to destroy the Exchequer's stockpile of tally sticks ignited panelling in the Lords Chamber), and the Palace of Westminster was built over the next 30 years.

After the fire, William IV even considered turning Buckingham Palace into the new Houses of Parliament.

A previous Palace of Westminster was the monarch's chief London residence until 1512 when hit was hit by fire. Henry VIII was the last to reside there. Ever since, subsequent monarchs gradually starting using the palace to administer the nation until that became its sole purpose.

Big Ben is not, as some people believe, the great clock tower, but is actually the largest bell within the tower, which is call St Stephen's Tower.

Big Ben first chimed in July 1859, and is known as the Voice of Britain.

St Stephen's Tower was damaged by the Luftwaffe in 1941, but Big Ben continued to ring out in defiance. The Palace was hit 14 times by bombs in total. In one incident, three people were killed in the Commons Chamber itself.

In 1916, the bells were silenced and the clock face darkened at night to prevent attacks by German zeppelins.

Control of the Palace of Westminster and its precincts was for centuries exercised by the Queen's representative, the Lord Great Chamberlain. By agreement with the Crown, control passed to the two Houses in 1965.

Hay, clock this: Farmer builds Big Ben replica in his field from 50 bales of straw

By Daily Mail Reporter
05th August 2009
Daily Mail

The London landmark of Big Ben has been recreated in straw in a cornfield in Cheshire to celebrate 150 years of the famous clock.

The 70ft sculpture, made with more than 500 bales of straw weighing over 20 tonnes, dominates the view on the A51 road between Nantwich and Chester in Cheshire.

Built around a steel frame, it features a working clock which is illuminated at night.

Little Ben: The sculpture, which has a working clock, was built in celebration of summer and heralds the 150th anniversary of the famous London landmark. Previous straw creations have included a rocket and a windmill

The project was the brainchild of local businessmen Chris Sadler and Mike Harper, who have joined forces annually for the past 11 years to build a straw sculpture in celebration of the summer season.

Past designs have included a windmill, a rocket and the London Eye.

Mr Sadler, 56, who is director of Snugbury's Ice Cream in Nantwich, said:'It is 150 years since Big Ben was built so we wanted to commemorate the occasion.

London calling: The 70ft Big Ben sculpture, made with over 500 bales weighing over 20 tonnes, dominates the view on the A51 road between Nantwich and Chester in Cheshire

'It looks stunning and is particularly impressive at night when it is flood-lit and the clock face also lights up.

'The sculpture was completed on Saturday and will stay up until after Christmas.

'The clock face is about two metres wide and is an exact working copy of the real thing.

'It costs a lot of money so we have a fence around it with security manning it.

There is also an alarm which is activated if anyone tries to climb up it.'

Mr Sadler's ice cream parlour has also had Big Ben-shaped cones made to coincide with the project.

He explained that a percentage of the sale of the cones would go towards the charity Kids Company, which helps vulnerable inner-city children.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Aug 5th, 2009 at 12:08 PM..