London: Churchill War Rooms

The very last thing we squeezed into our trip to London was the Churchill War Rooms. We almost didn’t make it. We had planned to go earlier in the week, but lines being what they were over the Christmas holidays we didn’t get to see as much as we had intended. Our London Passes had already expired, but Dad really wanted to visit the War Rooms so he, Chris, and I paid the entrance fee anyway and spent our last evening in London below ground in the bunkers while Mom and Rick visited the London Science Museum.
If you read my previous post about Hampton Court, you already know that I love the “slice of life” sort of experiences when it comes to historical destinations. The closer I can get to feeling like I traveled back in time the better (if I could only be granted such a superpower…). The Churchill War Rooms fit the bill perfectly! They were the secret underground headquarters of Churchill and his cabinet during the London Blitz. As soon as World War II ended packed up, turned off the lights, and locked the doors sealing it off exactly as it was the day the war ended (right down to someone’s sugar rations left in a desk drawer). The government understood the significance of such a place and such a moment to Britain’s history and they had the foresight to keep it sealed until it was reopened in the 1970s and converted into a museum for the public to see. So with the exception of some glass walls, information placards and wax war officials, it was as close to being there during the actual war as you could get!
Hitler doodle on one of the maps.
From our current methods of modern warfare with drones, computers and satellites it’s absolutely incredible to think that an entire world war was conducted and won from these very rooms with just little pins on giant maps. It was only three generations ago, but we’ve come such a long way since then! The methods they used back in the 1940s were simultaneously primitive and ingenious and it still blows my mind thinking about it as I review these photos.
So many pin holes!
The daily reported death toll during each night of the Blitz. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for Londoners during that time. I expect it must have been terrifying.
Why hello there Mr. Churchill.
Chris’ favorite part of the experience was the part of the museum dedicated to the life of Winston Churchill. In the US we don’t learn much about Churchill outside of the context of WWII but he was apparently quite a character! It was really amazing to learn about Churchill before he was CHURCHILL (you know, the politician Churchill we always read about). We spent almost as much time in this section of the museum as we did in the rest of the war rooms learning about his aristocratic heritage, his adventures as a war correspondent and heroic POW during the Second Boer War, his daring political career and more. Did you know he single-handedly saved an entire army division, but was captured himself and held hostage, later escaping and traveling almost 300 miles to safety after hiding in an old mine? We sure didn’t! There was way more to Winston than we ever heard about in schools. So much history contained within one short and stout person!
Dad’s and my favorite Churchill quote.
The kitchen that sustained the war.
An officer’s bedroom.

We all left the Churchill War Rooms with a much greater appreciation for England and it’s efforts during World War II.  Overall, London just added fuel to the fire that is my ever-burning desire to be able to travel back in time and see history in person. It was a fantastically exhausting trip for this pregnant lady, but so worth it to be able to spend this time and create these memories with my family. We sure love you guys!

Category: Adventures, Family, Travel  Tags: , ,
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3 Responses
  1. Jessica says:

    Absolutely amazing!!! So glad you got to squeeze that in and share it with us!

  2. Jon says:

    Way cool Chelsea. I got to see the main IWM in 1996, but this will definitely be on my list if there is ever a ‘next time’ in London.

    Per your “ever-burning desire to be able to travel back in time and see history in person” you’ll have to put the British Museum on your next-time list. In 3 visits to the British Museum I never got beyond the ancient civilizations exhibits. Mind-blowing for me.

    • Ooo! I’ll have to check out the IWM next time we end up in London. I went to the British Museum when I was 15, but I totally want to go back! The highlight for me was seeing the Rosetta Stone in person!

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