The Churchill War Rooms is No.5 in our list of London's best museums
It's not exactly cheap, but a private tour of the Churchill War Rooms offers military buffs the chance to step behind the glass and experience Winston Churchill's wartime bunker as he did. That's the real beauty of this tour -- it allows you to actually enter the rooms themselves. If you visit as a normal tourist then you'll be stuck on the outside of them, with your nose pressed up against a plate glass window.
You'll be led around the maze of underground rooms by an expert guide, who will show you the nerve centre from which Churchill directed the war. You'll see Winston's seat in the War Cabinet Room, the Map Room with troop movements and shipping lanes pinned all over them, the top-secret scrambler room where he spoke to Roosevelt (disguised as a toilet!), the little kitchen filled with post and pans, Winston's Dining Room and bedroom, and even his wife Clemmie's bedroom.
Some of the corridors and rooms and so cramped that it's easy to imagine what life must have been like during the Blitz. The Churchill War Rooms are only a short height below Whitehall (they spread out from the basement of the Treasury, under Horse Guards and St. James's Park), so they would have heard the bombs dropping on the street. Churchill was supposed to have braved the air raids a few times so he could watch the bombs falling from the roof of Downing Street.
Craig has never been on a private tour of the Churchill War Rooms (he doesn't get paid enough!), but he has been on a normal visit -- which he definitely recommends. You might like to read his review of the Churchill War Rooms before you go, which has some more photos of the what the rooms are like. Feel free to ask him some questions about the War Rooms, or write your own review on the forum.
If you're interested in World War II, then Craig also recommends a visit to the RAF Museum, HMS Belfast and Bletchley Park (where they cracked the Enigma codes). Lots of people recommend the Imperial War Museum as well, but there's actually more stuff about the battles and personalities inside the Churchill Museum at the Churchill War Rooms. They do have some World War II-era vehicles you can walk around, though -- like tanks, jeeps and V2s, and they've got a few planes dangling from the ceiling. But the best planes are definitely at the RAF Museum.
> Craig’s review of Churchill War Rooms – “You know that war's inevitable when they start digging government bomb shelters. Chamberlain began planning these four months before his 'Peace In Our Time' speech, so while he was standing on the tarmac waving that little piece of paper about he was simultaneously ordering the furious digging and drilling beneath the Treasury. They got the whole thing rushed and done… continued”
Slavery, Culture & Collecting – 15 Sep 2018 to 15 Sep 2019 – This exhibition explores the connection between some of Britain's oldest cultural organisations and transatlantic slavery
Feliks Topolski — Drawing Debden – 1 Oct 2018 to 28 Jun 2019 – The Bank of England Museum will be putting on an exhibition of work by Feliks Topolski about the Debden printing works.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition – 19 Oct 2018 to 30 Jun 2019 – Wildlife Photographer of the Year returns to the Natural History Museum with this exhibition of the top 100 photos.
Victorian surgery at the Old Operating Theatre – Sat and Sun – A demonstration about Victorian surgery inside the original 19th-century Operating Theatre at St Thomas's Hospital.
Call in the Cavalry — National Army Museum – 25 Oct 2018 to 9 Jun 2019 – An exhibition about the British Hussars, exploring their history and shared traditions with the Hungarian Hussars.
Crime Scene Live! — at the Natural History Museum – 5 Nov 2018, 11 Jan, 8 Feb, 22 Mar, 5 Apr, 24 May and 7 Jun 2019 – A group event where you'll turn into a CSI and collect evidence around the Natural History Museum to solve a murder mystery
Reimagining Captain Cook – 29 Nov 2018 to 4 Aug 2019 – The British Museum will be marking the anniversary of Cook's Pacific voyage by looking at it from the Islander's perspective
If you enjoy Churchill War Rooms then you might like to visit HMS Belfast (catch the train from Westminster to London Bridge), Imperial War Museum (walk it in 20 mins or catch the tube from Westminster to Lambeth North) and National Army Museum (catch the train from Westminster to Sloane Square)
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