London is well known around the world for many things like the London Eye, Big Ben, the West End and its fabulous art galleries.
The city has a 2,000 year history- even more depending on who you ask- and has plenty of museums to back it up.
Many of the city’s museums are class leading, like the British Museum for example; nowhere else on earth has a collection that can match its ability to tell a comprehensive story of humanity and its culture.
There is a museum for pretty much any interest in London, including a transport museum, a toy museum and even a Sherlock Holmes museum!
But there is one that is different from all the others; one that tells the story of one of the country’s biggest war-time icons; Sir Winston Churchill.
Visiting the War Rooms is unlike any museum you may have been to before, so let’s take a deep dive into everything you need to know before you go to this incredible window into war-time Britain.
What are the Churchill War Rooms?
In 1936, a few years before the start of the 2nd World War the British Government decided it would need a secret emergency base of operations.
It decided to use the basements of existing buildings and was finished in 1938, just one year before war broke out.
Churchill became Primeminister and declared the rooms to be the location from which he would orchestrate the British war machine.
Fast forward to 2023, the secret basement office is now one of the very best museums in the country.
You can walk in Churchill’s shoes and explore the location where the brave men and women worked below the streets of the city to win the war in Europe.
The War Rooms are open to the public between the hours of 9:30 and 6:00 Monday to Sunday. Last entry to the museum everyday will be at 5pm.
The best times to visit are first thing in the morning, or towards the end of the day, and it is recommended that you give yourself around two hours to properly explore the museum.
It can get crowded in the middle of the day- especially at the weekend- so be prepared.
The museum is located beneath the Treasury building in the City of Westminster.
The nearest tube station would be Westminster Station which is serviced by the Circle, District and Jubilee Lines.
If you’re getting the bus or walking then heading to Parliament Square and following the War Room signs would be your best bet.
Tickets can be purchased online and should be purchased in advance to avoid disappointment.
Tickets Start at £27.25 without a donation, and there are many types of ticket, so head to the website for more information.
Things To See
There is a lot on offer at this remarkable museum and you’ll enjoy everything on offer.
It’s the perfect insight into life underground during the war and the personal effects of Churchill himself can be seen scattered around the rooms.
The Museum is split into two main rooms and then some smaller anti chambers.
Let’s take a look at the highlights.
The War Cabinet Room
There are very few places left in the world that act as a perfect window into the past- and this is one of them.
The Cabinet Room is essentially untouched after its use was discontinued at the end of the war. Step back in time and see the location where great military minds planned and executed the winning strategy.
The Map Room
The Map Room is always a favourite and is perhaps the one people will recognise from many war films.
The large table in the centre of the room was dominated by a gigantic map of Europe where members of the Air Force, Army and Navy would work together to ensure the plans were being put into action correctly.
Each battle was tracked precisely in this room, and information was displayed and passed on to the King and government officials.
Churchill’s office actually became the great man’s bedroom towards the end of the war.
You can see it today, perfectly halted in time.
His bed, personal possessions and desk make up what is the only ‘luxury’ room in the bunker and you’ll also see his personal radio that he used to contact the outside world.
The Broadcasting Room
The Broadcasting Room is the very location where Churchill addressed the nation with a rousing speech before the horrors of D-Day.
It’s also the room where communications would be sent between allied forces, and Churchill would confer with American Leaders in secret.
Churchill’s Siren Suit
One of the thing’s people are often surprised by is the ‘Siren Suit’ worn and loved by Churchill himself.
It was an all in one ‘romper’ suit that became very popular during the war. People would sleep in them and when the air raid sirens would sound, and they would have to rush outside they would look at least a little bit presentable.
Needless to say, Churchill was a very big fan.
Once you’re finished in the absorbing bunkers, you can head above ground and visit the Churchill Museum where you can learn about the leader’s life before politics, what inspired him and what made him the great leader he was.
So there you have it; everything you need to know before you visit the amazing Churchill War Rooms.
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You’ll be perfectly positioned to explore the very best of the city, like the War Rooms, then head to the best West End bars for an end of the day drink.
Sounds like a perfect trip to me!