After our lovely but far too short time in Amsterdam, Mum, Pater & I returned to London. Holidays are always far too short and this one was no exception.
We had a great deal of fun, relaxed and saw some museums. So it should come as no surprise that we visited YET ANOTHER.
With great fanfare and much excitement….
Churchill War Rooms
The War Rooms are part of the Imperial War Museum organisation but are located in Whitehall, across the street from St. James Park. These rooms were a secret bunker and communication space that served as the hub for Churchill during World War II.
We were highly encouraged to use the audio-guides. I tried but I didn’t really like them. The segments were far too long and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the sound. That said this is a historic building so there are limits to the amount of signage they can put up. Audioguides are also wonderful for anyone who does not speak English.
The War Room. How creepy mannequins are allowed and text panels are not I will never know.
Here’s Pater who accidentally cosplayed for our visit! He just needed a newspaper with eyeholes cut out of it to really complete that 1940s spy chic 👀📰
The whole place was sort of forgotten about until it was prepared to be opened to the public in 1984. It really feels like a time capsule. The war rooms were built so that if Whitehall was hit during the Blitz, the command would survive as well as all its information.
Churchiil (here seen in mannequin form) had a direct, secure, transatlantic phone link to the Office of the US president. Rather than having SECRET PHONE ROOM on the door, it actually said it was Churchill’s private lavatory. Rather clever as nobody is going to just barge right in there while he’s inside.
In the hallway between the War Rooms proper and the Churchill museum was a special exhibition that gave voice to those who lived in this bunker 24 hours a day for years. There were guards, soldiers, secretaries, cooks, special liaison officers and the managers of the War rooms.
I liked this telephone which you could dial to hear a snippet of someone’s memory of working in the War Rooms, Churchill, or life during the war. They were nice and short and allowed for more voices.
The amount of effort to keep the rooms secret and running smoothly is simply incredible. I mean they had to covertly buy furniture, food and have maintenance done. What a job! I like to think that my fave, Agent Peggy Carter, knew about the Cabinet War Rooms but perhaps not -as it was so so, so secret.
Pins for the Map Room! They tracked armies as well as all the supply trails. A big part of the War effort in the room was to make sure that food and supplies could get through the enemy lines and distributed to the soldiers, civilians and newly liberated.
It has that real sense that History happened here which is always very cool. And we saw a rainbow just as we left!
Pros: very cool space, lots of great historical material, fun for kids to run around in, small but nice shop, friendly staff, focus on multiple voices, great location
Cons: special exhibition was too small- I wanted more!, hard to find toilets, creepy mannequins, dependency on audio guides, not a lot of seating