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Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms

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Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, London
© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The Churchill Museum is the world's only museum dedicated to the life of Sir Winston Churchill. You can find out about his life and achievements through interesting displays and interactive exhibits.

The Cabinet War Rooms were used by Churchill and his government throughout the Second World War from 1939 to 1945. You can see the rooms where historic decisions were made.

Pros:

  • Even though it all below ground level, all rooms are fully accessible and there is lift access to the start of the tour.
  • Interesting for all age groups and nationalities.
  • Free audio guide included in ticket price. Available in eight languages.
  • Free family audio tour and interactive trails.

Cons:

  • Ticket price is not cheap so plan to spend at least a few hours to get your money's worth.

Visit Duration:

2 hour +

Top Tips

  • Tip 1: If you are a wheelchair user or are traveling with a child in a buggy, don't walk down King Charles Street as you'll have steps to negotiate. Instead, walk around from Parliament Square and reach the entrance on Horse Guards Road, opposite St. James's Park.
  • Tip 2: The first desk you'll see when you arrive is the Security Desk. They need to check your bags so have them open and ready for inspection.
  • Tip 3: All mobile phones (cell phones) must be switched off as they can interfere with the building's alarm system.
  • Tip 4: There are only toilets at the start of the tour so make good use of the facilities.
  • Tip 5: Photos are allowed! This is great news so enjoy taking photos of the Cabinet War Rooms but refrain from photography in the Churchill Museum.
  • Tip 6: The corridors get narrow towards the end so be prepared to wait your turn.
Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms London© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Churchill was always a controversial politician and began as Conservative then crossed over to the radical Liberal Party in 1904.

Churchill was 65 years old in 1940 and I can't imagine us having such an 'old' Prime Minister these days but the Second World War made Churchill a legend.

The Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms are operated by the Imperial War Museum and they first entered the rooms in the 1970s and decided to keep them in the state they were found so we can get a real feel for what it was like to work in these rooms, deep underground, with no natural light. The audio guide has some fascinating insights from people who worked there.

Opening Hours

Open Daily: 9.30am – 6pm.
Last admission is 5pm.
Open daily except 24, 25, and 26 December.

Admission

Check the official website for the latest ticket prices.
Children under 16 go free.
(Note, admission prices rise on the 1 January each year.)

Contact details

Address:
Clive Steps
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AQ
Location map

Telephone: 020 7930 6961

Fax: 020 7839 5897

Email: cwr@iwm.org.uk

Official Website: cwr.iwm.org.uk

Nearest Tube Stations:
Westminster
St. James's Park

Use Journey Planner to plan your route on public transport.

Switch Room Cafe

The Switch Room Cafe is situated halfway round your tour of the Cabinet War Rooms (after the Churchill Museum). It's a small, welcoming cafe with friendly staff.

Shop

There is a small shop at the end of the tour with gifts and souvenirs at all price ranges. I particularly loved the green Churchill tank teapot at £39.99!

Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms Review

Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms London© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The tour starts with The Cabinet Room, left as it was in 1945. This was where the Prime Minister and his top ministers held meetings, often late into the night.

I liked the atmospheric sounds in the corridors, such as phones ringing or typewriters typing.

The Churchill Museum opened in 2005 to celebrate the life and times of Sir Winston Churchill. I enjoyed learning, through interactive displays, 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. You can see the Union Flag that was draped over his coffin.

Strangely, after watching his funeral, you move onto his birth. He had a privileged childhood and was born into the British aristocracy. You can see his baby rattle and his school reports and his early work as a war journalist.

Do look out for:
  • The chronology table running through the middle of the room. It list years and important events in his life and you can touch the arrows to find out more.
  • His 'Siren suit'. This looks like an adult-size romper suit worn by babies! It was so named because it could be put on quickly if there was an air raid.

It was really interesting to find out more about the man behind the facade. I learned about his love of painting which he used to overcome severe depression. Near this display there is a soft toy in a 'bookcase' which, when picked up, gives you quotes from the great man.

From here, you can easily walk to the Houses of Parliament or Buckingham Palace.

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