Disclosure: We were invited on this day out for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own.
We first heard about the Churchill War Rooms, randomly, when we visited the London Transport Museum a couple of years ago and walked through the underground where people had lived during the war. When we were invited to the War Rooms on a trip to London last week we couldn’t wait to visit.
What are the Churchill War Rooms?
The Churchill War Rooms were the underground nerve centre where the British government directed the Second World War. It’s also home to the award-winning Churchill Museum and high on the list of must-see attractions in London. If you enjoy learning more about history then you’ll appreciate a visit to the War Rooms.
Is a guided tour available?
When you first enter the Churchill War Rooms you are offered audio guides and they have a special child friendly one available too. This helped to keep the children engaged throughout and was really interesting for the adults – with their adults versions – too.
The audio tour is included in the ticket price and works by typing in numbers and pressing play as you see them dotted around the site. There are also boards to read which is always my preference on educational days out as I can take in the information in my own time.
What can you see at Churchill War Rooms?
There is so much to see in the Churchill War Rooms. From the first room – The Cabinet Room – where Churchill famously said “This is the room from which I will direct the war.”. You can stand inches away from the room where some of the most important decisions about the course of the war were made.
As soon as we walked from the entrance to the huge windows of The Cabinet Room I felt quite sombre. The War Rooms are such an important place, and they saw so much during the war, but it’s always quite sobering to think about what our ancestors went through back then.
I was so glad to step foot in the War Rooms, to walk the same footsteps as Churchill and to learn more about Britain’s part in World War II. So much of the Churchill War Rooms is familiar from the Darkest Hour movie too, with a lot of it featuring in the film.
In the War Rooms you get to walk through the top-secret rooms and corridors that were once only accessible to those with the highest security clearance in the country. From the main door to the Cabinet Room to the map room where you can see the maps just as they were left when the war ended.
A big part of the War Rooms is seeing what day to day life was like back then. You got to see the kitchen where Churchill’s food would have been made as well as his bedroom, his wife’s bedroom and other senior official’s living quarters. There is also a glimpse to another floor further underground where less official staff lived – and where they had to stoop to walk through the space.
One part of the Churchill War Rooms we loved was the Transatlantic Telephone Room which was disguised as a private toilet. The room was used to house a secure radio-telephone link between the Prime Minister of Britain and the President of the United States and you could just imagine Winston Churchill sitting in this tiny room making some of the most important phone calls of his life.
So much thought has gone into the War Rooms to preserve as much of the space as possible, making it a real trip back in time. But there are also sound effects and audio recordings played at various parts and you can even hear some of Churchill’s most famous speeches.
It was really interesting to find out more about Churchill, and what he was like as a Prime Minister. We found out how much he valued a quiet working environment and saw photos of his time in the War Rooms – including a colour photograph that was a real wow moment, as you never see photos from back then in colour. It’s as if history was made in black and white.
What is in the Churchill Museum?
The Churchill Museum is included in your ticket to the Churchill War Rooms. It is split into five chapters, War Leader, Cold War Statesman, Young Churchill, Maverick Politician and the Wilderness Years. Each one works through a time in Churchill’s life and we learnt so much from the museum and its exhibits.
In the museum you can see so much about Churchill’s life, his time as Prime Minister and his family. There are letters to read that were sent between Churchill and his wife, Clementine and you can learn more about the woman behind the Prime Minister.
You can see the original Number 10 Downing Street door that Churchill first walked through as Prime Minister on 10 May 1940 as well as so many interactive exhibits that children will love to play with. A highlight of these is the 15 metre long, electronic, interactive table which is a living biography of Sir Winston Churchill’s life.
We really enjoyed our trip to the Churchill War Rooms and spent over an hour there moving from exhibit to exhibit and room to room in our own time. If we hadn’t had the kids with us we would definitely have spent longer and a suggested trip is around two hours.
You can find out more about the Churchill War Rooms over on their website and I made a little Reel of our visit over on Instagram too.