You will discover that touring the Churchill War Rooms in London is a fascinating experience that immerses you in history. The War Rooms still exist in an underground complex that served as the nerve center of British wartime operations during World War II. A tour of the War Rooms takes you along the hallways where the English planned their strategy. The offices look just as they did in the 1940s. Everything from the war years sits in place, from the furniture to the colored map pins to the red and green telephones.
Begin exploring in the underground bunkers
Exploring the underground bunker, twisting through darkened hallways. You see the cramped living quarters, the fascinating map room, and the communications center, giving you a sense of what life was like for those who worked there.
A museum on the life and work of Churchill is now in the building, next to the War Rooms. Follow the arrows showing the direction of the tour, and about midway you will enter the museum. It’s a well done museum telling of an eccentric leader. He wouldn’t allow his staff to whistle, for example. And he took a nap in the afternoon, making it clear he was not to be disturbed.
Learn about leadership from the life of an expert
Churchill has long been studied as an example of leadership in wartime. The museum exhibits give insight into the leadership and decision-making process of Churchill, one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. The displays are in chronological order. So, you can start with Churchill’s youth and go forward. Or you can skip to WWII, if you are short on time.
Churchill, who had served his country before WWII, came in as Prime Minister in May 1940. By the beginning of June, 400,000 Allied troops sat on the beaches of Dunkirk in France, pushed to the edge of the water by the Germans. Today, historians look at the successful evacuation of these soldiers as a turning point toward Allied victory. The British army was saved instead of captured. The U.S. took notice and immediately started sending supplies to Britain. And Churchill gave one of his most memorable speeches:
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
Re-enter the bunker area and head to the map room
The real heart of the bunker is the offices where the war planning took place. My favorite parts of the War Rooms are the maps that show with stick pins and string the plotting of troop movements. An entire war was planned without computers. The detailed maps will amaze you.
The War Rooms served as a hive of activity throughout World War II. Fortunately for all of us history buffs, they were left for years as they were on the day the war ended. They opened to the public in the 1980s. So you and I today can walk in the steps of the war leaders and imagine that dark and uncertain time.
The War Rooms are open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Buy tickets online before you go, if your plans allow. You can just show up, but you may be stuck waiting in a long line. And why waste time in London? Tickets are 27.25 pounds for adults, 13.60 pounds for children 5 to 15, and children under 5 are free. Many visitors find the audio guides provided at the Churchill War Rooms are informative and helpful.
Hi there! This post may contain affiliate links. That means I earn a bit of money if you purchase products through me. This involves no extra cost to you and it helps me maintain this blog.