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!)
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