Take a Tour of Churchill War Rooms to See How History Was Created

Located in the Whitehall area of Westminster in central London, the Churchill War Rooms is one of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum. The museum comprises of the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum. Whereas the former is a historic underground complex located under the Treasury Building from where the British government command centre operated throughout the Second World War, the latter is a biographical museum that explores the life of one of the greatest British statesmen, Sir Winston Churchill.

The Cabinet War Rooms were constructed from 1938 to 1939 and became operational, just before the onset of the war, in August 1939. They were in use throughout World War II and were abandoned after the end of the war and the surrender of Japan in 1945. It was only after the war that their historic value was recognised and sought to be preserved for which the responsibility was given to the Ministry of Works and later the Department for the Environment. However, it was only after Imperial War Museum was asked to take over its administration in early 1980s that they were opened to the public in 1984. It was reopened in 2005 and in 2010 both the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms were clubbed and shortened to the Churchill War Rooms.

Image Courtesy : Kaihsu Tai

Two of the Cabinet War Rooms were very important during the war, where important decisions were made. These were the Map Room that was used constantly and guarded round the clock and the other was the Cabinet Room that was Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s favourite room for directing the war. A total of 115 Cabinet meetings took place at the Cabinet War Rooms with the last one being held on 28 March 1945 at the end of the German V-weapon bombing campaign.

The other part of the Churchill War Rooms is the Churchill Museum which is the only museum in the world offering an insight into the life and achievements of Sir Winston Churchill through displays and interactive exhibits and about his speeches which were defiant and inspiring but never underestimated his enemy. Churchill was born in 1874 and died in 1965, aged 90. He had a state funeral watched by 400 million across the world on TV. At the museum you can see the Union Flag that was draped over his coffin as also his baby rattle and his school reports and his early work as a journalist. His handling of the Second World War made him a legend. He was born into the British aristocracy and had a privileged childhood.

If you wish to stay close to the museum, it would be best to stay at M by Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech City as it provides comfortable accommodation in the heart of the city, close to the Churchill War Rooms. Moreover, it would be convenient to take a tour of the museum to get pertinent information regarding the various features of the same and will take you round all important places and give you a commentary. All the rooms are below ground level and they are fully accessible with a lift access to the start of the tour. The tour will prove to be interesting for people of all ages and nationalities. The ticket price, though high, includes a freer audio guide that is available in eight languages. Free family audio tour and interactive trails are also available. The duration of the tour is 2 hours.

 People who are on a wheelchair or have a child with them in a buggy should walk around Parliament Square and reach the entrance of the museum on Horse Guards Road, opposite St James’s Park instead of walking down King Charles Street as they will have to negotiate steps which would be difficult. When you arrive at the entrance, you will find the Security Desk where your bags will be checked as a security procedure. You should switch off your mobile phone as it can interfere with the alarm system. It would be best to use the toilet at the start of the tour since there are no other toilets in the tour route. Photography is allowed in the Cabinet War Rooms but not in the Churchill Museum. It is important to be aware of the fact that the corridors get narrow towards the end and so you may have to wait for your turn.

The museum opens daily, except 24, 25, and 26 December, between 9:30am and 6pm. The last admission is at 5pm. The admission price in 2015 is £18 for adults and £14.40 for seniors, students and disabled people. Children (5-15) pay £9.00 and a family ticket (1 adult and 2 children) is for £31.50 whereas a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) is for £47.25. There are special rates for groups of 10 or more. IWM Friends go free. The entry prices are inclusive of a voluntary donation that is for the care and conservation of this historic site. In case voluntary donation is not desired, the admission prices are Adults £16.35; Children £8.15; Senior, Student, Disabled £13.05; Family Ticket (1 adult and 2 children) £28.60; Family Ticket (2 adults and 2 children) £42.95. If you have a London Pass, you can get free admission to the museum. The nearest tube stations are Westminster and St James’s Park.

The premises offer the Switch Room Cafe which is situated about halfway through the tour after the Churchill Museum. Friendly staff will greet you at this small, welcoming cafe. At the end of the tour, you will find a small shop where you can buy gifts and souvenirs at all price ranges.

Science Museum to pay tribute to Churchill’s influence

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