Saturday, February 2, 2019

London: The Churchill War Rooms

This post is shorter than the great attention it deserves. It is a visit to one of my "must see" attractions and one of the best of our trip -- The Churchill War Rooms. (But at the very bottom you'll find a must-see link, one that is so well written and well photographed that it is a must for history, Churchill and WWII fans.)


We had started our day earlier with a trip to the Westminster Archives to find more information about my great grandmother and her parents. The archive center was located near Westminster Abbey, which was just a short walk from the Churchill War Rooms. We approached in the drizzle and this is what we saw.


But I was determined. This was our last opportunity to see the exhibits as the remainder of our time was planned in ways we didn't want to change. Besides, how long could it be?


(This is the one place where we should have bought our tickets online but we didn't really have a schedule). After awhile, Rick went to get sandwiches while I stayed in line and just about the time he got back, we moved near to the front and in the next go-round were admitted. (Admission includes the audio tour and wheelchairs are available.)


One goes underground. This is where Winston Churchill and his key advisors did their planning and discussions of WWII. If you saw the film "The Darkest Hour," you will be familiar with the idea that Churchill and his team were often in this underground bunker.


It is a labyrinth of rooms that includes offices for individuals...


...a broadcasting studio...


...a bedroom for the Prime Minister...



...The secretary pool...


And a full kitchen.


The map room is presumably left as it was, filled with enormous maps that with push pins chronicled the moves of the Allied Forces.


The audio tour was reverent -- and irreverent, highlighting both the lows and highs of working with the effusive Prime Minister.


I would have thought I would be quite happy simply with the reconstructed rooms, but the museum provides much more than this. In addition to these historic spaces is a comprehensive museum on the life of Winston Churchill.


Included are numerous films and videos, interactive exhibits (the one that followed his passionate interest in painting was especially fun) and personal artifacts.


Of particular interest to me was the beautiful correspondence between Churchill and his wife, Clementine.


Another treasured piece, a handwritten from George VI.


The light here wasn't the best and as I was wheeled along it was often difficult to get good photos. But there was so much good material that photos weren't really my priority at the moment.


The printed materials for the museum/war rooms suggest at least 90 minutes. If you are one who really appreciates history, I would recommend something more like three hours.


We were close to closing time and had to rush a bit at the end. I would be inclined to return, just to take things in a little longer and at a more leisurely pace. besides, I like to read all the letters and watch much of the film. (And I think we were there probably at least two and half hours.)


If you head to the War Rooms, and fancy a snack or a sip after, you might want to try Two Chairmen, which is a block away. No, we didn't go there because we didn't really know about it but after reading Mike's post about it on A Bit About Britain, it was just the kind of pub we would have loved to find! And while you're at Mike's blog, check out his outstanding post HERE on the War Rooms. (If I had told you there was a MUCH better post about this fabulous attraction, with better photos and even more intriguing history at the top of this post, you never would have made it to here!)

Sharing with:    Take Me Away!    

37 comments:

William Kendall said...

I would love to visit there!

After one of his downturns in health during the war, he was over this way for visits with King and FDR, and stayed with King at Laurier House. King offered him the use of the elevator, which is only really big enough for one person. King was going to take the stairs up, and Churchill would have none of that, regardless of his weakened state.

Sally Wessely said...

Wow, just wow. I must go back to London I must go here.

thel day said...

What an interesting post. I would love to visit there. I have watched "The Crown" twice on Netflix and "Victoria" is presently playing on PBS. British history is so interesting and fascinating. I've learned a lot since my visit there last yr. It's nice to blog our visit as we can look back and remember. Nice memories...
Take care, Thelma xo

Lilbitbrit said...

You really did see a lot on your trip. Thank you for sharing this with us, so interesting.

eileeninmd said...

Hello,
What an interesting and must see exhibit on Winston Churchill. I think my hubby would really enjoy it too. Great post and thanks for the links! Enjoy your day!

Joanne Huffman said...

Very interesting. It's always intriguing to touch history like that.

Valerie-Jael said...

This was a wonderful place to visit, Churchill was a great man and a fantastic artist. Hugs, Valerie

bobbie said...

VERY cool ~ I will check out Mike's blog too.

DUTA said...

That was a visit to remember, and your post does it full justice. Churchill was a leader, a great one; sadly, there are no leaders today at all, only politicians.

Jean R. said...

What an interesting and sober experience the museum must have been. I'm glad someone had the foresight to preserve it like a time capsule.

My name is Erika. said...

I have been here and it truly amazing how everything was just left after the war. I don't think they thought bout it becoming a museum. I can't get over how busy it was when you went and how long the line was. When we went (in late February) we were able to just walk in. But it was worth the wait, wasn't it? When we visited we actually had a hard time finding it, but maybe it has become better signed or more popular. Happy weekend. Hope you are warming up. Hugs-Erika

Pom Pom said...

Wow! How interesting! I do find Winston Churchill fascinating. Thank you for sharing, Jeanie!

La Table De Nana said...

Memorabilia is exquisite isn't it?

I know I will never visit..but I liked your post depicting your visit;)

Pamela said...

I haven't visited this place, but will on my next trip. It looks like you went back in time. Thanks for the tip about buying tickets ahead.

David Gascoigne said...

A very worthwhile visit, Jeanie. This is part of world history, not just British history. I regret now that on the few visits I have made to London I didn't take this in. We are still sweltering in Costa Rica but will be home on Thursday and should be right back in the groove by the weekend.

Anonymous said...

Jeanie, Another place I'd love to visit. I love the plainness & simplicity of the bunker life. They had just what they needed! Thank you for sharing!

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

WOW!! This is amazing!! So much history here!! Thanks so much for stopping by!!
Hugs,
Deb

Iris Flavia said...

It's a bit scary, but maybe just to a German...
It is also interesting, I agree, sad you had to rush.
Oh, I am so thankful we can live "in peace", I can not imagine to live in fear and with bombs and all. Braunschweig was attacked badly and I was so stupid to read about it.... nightmares for nights. Somehow I could imagine if women ruled there'd be no war (but maybe I am totally wrong!).

shoreacres said...

It doesn't surprise me that the lines were so long. I think it's pretty clear that people are hungering for real leadership these days, and paying more attention to people who exhibited leadership qualities in the past. Too many of the people hungering to be elected president only want to be president: they don't seem interested in uniting the nation, or leading it. (Grump, grump!)

BB said...

This really sounds interesting to me. This would be high on my list of things to do. He was a fascinating man.

Question about the photo of the Prime Minister's bedroom: is that a chamber pot on the floor, at the foot of the bed? Weren't there facilities?

Running on empty said...

In a Doctor Who episode there is also a Dalek in there :))

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

It's amazing how much you packed into your visit. The War Rooms are intriguing. I'm fascinated about WWII - it was my parent's war and I imagine how it affected them. Great post!!

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Amazing tour, Jeanie! My husband would really enjoy visiting there. Thank you for letting me know you can book online. I'll check that out before our visit. Have a happy week. ♥

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

So much history to see and read about and I can easily see why this would take a bit of time.

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, I love history so I would have thoroughly enjoyed spending many hours reading everything. Thanks for sharing, I have loved every post of your amazing trip!

Liz@ HomeandGardeningWithLiz said...

Since my Dad served in WWII I am intrigued about many aspects of the war. Visiting the War Rooms of Winston Churchill would be fascinating. This had to be a real highlight of your trip.

Sami said...

I watched "The Darkest Hour" and I would have loved to see this Museum as I also love History.
Great photos Jeanie.

Carola Bartz said...

This is one place in London I certainly want to get back to. I was fascinated the first time I was here, and you are spot on in saying reserving a lot of time for it. I was drawn to the letters as well. Have you been to Blenheim Palace where Churchill grew up? They have displayed some of his letters he wrote as a child from boarding school - when I see all these letters I'm really sad that this art form is more and more disappearing.

Jenny Woolf said...

A place I've never been, because I too never get around to pre booking and I hate to stand in line. I didn't realise that there was also a churchill museum, though, He's an interesting man so I would love that.Also his country house Chartwell, which isn't far from London.

Mary K.- The Boondocks Blog said...

Jeanie I just came here from Insta where someone posted some negative things about Churchill. Mainly that he was not at all sympathetic to the plight of the Indian famine after WWII. It put a bit of a sour feeling in my stomach. The British are really great but all of that imperialism was just too much and he wished that Gandhi would starve to death? Say it isn't so!

Hena Tayeb said...

Wow what a great look into history. I don't know much about Churchill. I had heard of him and then when I watched The Crown I learnt a bit more about him.. though it was mainly his later years.

Thanks for sharing

http://www.henatayeb.blogspot.com

Sandra Cox said...

How fascinating. I did not know the War Rooms were open for public display.
Darkest Hour was one of the best films I've seen.

Vagabonde said...

Hi Jeanie – I am trying to catch up with my blogging friends. I read your whole month of November in Paris and what a trip! Your photographs were fabulous. I’ll come back and read on your London trip soon. Thanks for coming to my blog while I was unable to visit blogs.

My Grama's Soul said...

Wedid this and it was absolutely fabulous. Your pics serve as a trip down memory lane. I especially liked the large board where you could find any date in history simply by touching and moving it with your hands.

xo

Jo

handmade by amalia said...

This reminded me of my own visit. What an amazing place, so full of history and atmosphere.
Amalia
xo

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I'm so fascinated by WWII so this is a museum I would really enjoy. I actually learned a lot about Winston Churchill by watching the series The Crown. We also read a non-fiction book for book club that was about Churchill and a couple of other prominent figures during WWII (the name of the book has escaped me, though!). I need to watch The Darkest Hour. I think that is a film that both Phil and I would enjoy!!

The French Hutch said...

I am so happy you didn't turn back when you saw the long line. We took my mother and father in law to see the war rooms. It was so interesting. London offers so much history and it's so hard to pick and choose what to see. I am so happy we saw the war rooms........

Popular Posts