The Churchill War Rooms are a basement complex of rooms and corridors in the Office of Works building, where Churchill, the war cabinet, and the chiefs of staff operated from during World War II.
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The 10-foot below ground rooms are authenticómuch in them has remained there since the end of World War II. Of particular interest are the cabinet room, the prime ministerís room (complete with Churchillís desk), and the map room, which contains the map on which the war campaigns were charted. The telephone room was home to the hot line to the White House. Itís interesting to note the old fashioned typewriters in the secretarial room.
The cabinet room was where the prime minister, selected ministers, war cabinet advisers, and chiefs of staff held their secret meetings. The prime minsterís room was next to the map room. It contained a bed for when he had to spend the night and his desk from which he made his famous radio broadcasts. The map room has large scale maps of the theatres of war on the walls. It is as it was left on August 16, 1945.
The Churchill suite is a group of nine rooms that provided private accommodations for Churchill and his wife and a meeting room for the chiefs of staff. They were restored to their original look in 2003.
Several times throughout the day, there is a Ďbriefingí in the cafeteria by actors in authentic costumes. They are great fun to attend as they give you a real wartime feel for being a member of the underground team that supported the efforts of Englandís leaders.
The Churchill Museum opened in Feb 2005 in the underground site. It is dedicated to Churchill and his life and times. This room includes state-of-the-art interactive displays on all of Churchillís writings and related documents and his life experiences.
A tour of the War Rooms starts with an audio guide and a number of displays, then moves on to the actual rooms. Allow at least one hour. The corridors can become overcrowded during peak times.
Website: Churchill War Rooms (virtual tour of some of the rooms)
Tel. 020 7930 6961
Open daily (exc. Dec 24-26) from 9.30am-6pm
Location: King Charles street by St James park.
Underground: St James Park or Westminster
Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy of Churchill War Rooms