Churchill War Rooms are one of the three sites of the Imperial War Museum in London. The two other sites are in Manchester and Cambridgeshire. Whereas, the War Museum is the 17th most visited museum in the United Kingdom the Churchill War Rooms on their own rank 36th on the list.
To reach this branch of the Imperial War Museum one will need to decide which mode of transportation to use or simply walk there. Total distance is 1.6 miles (2.575 km) and will take you about 34 minutes to traverse the distant if you make the decision to go on foot. You will need to walk to to Elephant and Castle which will be to the left of the main entrance to Safestay. Continue on St. George’s Road. This will lead you to A302 also known as Westminster Bridge Road. After ½ mile take a slight right onto Victoria Embankment (A3211). Turn left on Derby Gate and then right onto Parliament Street (A3212). Turn left onto Charles Street. The museum will be on the left.
You can expect a travel time of about 6 minutes if you decide to drive or take a taxi.
If you wish to take public transport walk to Elephant and Castle Station. Take the 12 Bus (Stop V) (Stop ID: 51095). There will be 6 stops in 8 minutes. You will then disembark at Stop A Parliament Square (Stop ID: 50906). You can easily walk the rest of the distance in about 2 minutes. Your total travel time will be about 13 minutes.
Churchill War Rooms Museum is open daily from 9:30 – 18:00 (6:00 pm). Last admission is 17:00 (5:00 pm). The facility is closed on 24,25,26 of December. Admission prices are 17.50 GBP (Pounds Sterling) ($29.43 USD) (21.28 EUR). Anyone under 16 is admitted free. The concession rate for students, seniors and the disabled is 14.00 GBP. The admission price includes a 2 pound donation. Tickets and guide books can be purchased on line if one wishes.
Upon arrival there will be three different venues to visit which include the Cabinet War Rooms, Undercover: Life in Churchill's Bunker and the Churchill Museum.
Construction of the site began in 1938 and became operational right before the outbreak of war in August of 1939. They were abandoned in August of 1945 when Japan was forced to sue for peace. The historic value of the facility was immediately recognized by the British government in the post war era. The Imperial War Museum took over the administration of the site in the early 1980's. They first opened the site to the wider public in 1984 and went through a major renovation in 2005.
The tour begins with the Cabinet War Rooms where the former Prime Minster Churchill and his inner staff planned the British war effort. You can see the actual chair he used to preside over the numerous meetings that took place during the war. The scratch marks on the arms of the chair were made by Churchill himself who was under enormous stress for the first years of the Second World War. This was primarily because Britain was losing the war during those early years.
Further on in the tour you will be able to visit the Transatlantic Telephone Room where the all important secret conversations took place between Churchill and the American President Franklin Roosevelt.
In the Map Room everything looks exactly it did in 1945 at the end of the war. The color coded telephones, books, and the war time maps are all still there. Next to the Map Room is Churchill's Room an office bedroom. Four of his wartime speeches were made from this office but he actually only slept overnight in this room 3 times during the war. You can also view other rooms that were used by Churchill including a kitchen.
In Undercover: Life in Churchill's Bunker one is able to see history come alive through film interviews by people who were part of the secret headquarters here as well as, oral histories and personal objects, from hundreds of individuals.
Your ticket also entitles you to to visit the Churchill Museum. Multimedia displays and other technology allows one to get a personal glimpse of the man beginning with his appointment as Prime Minster in May of 1940. You can listen to war time speeches as you discover the heroic side of this war time leader. The interactive Lifeline at the center of the museum allows one to view photos, film clips, and documents that cover every year of Churchill’s life.
Following the Lifeline is the area where artifacts and personal objects of importance that cover the 90 years of the life of Churchill can be viewed. You can also explore an interactive model of Churchill's country home of Chartwell found in Kent.
Special events in the evening are also held at the museum at times and are open to the public.
Audio Guides are available in a variety of languages for a tour of the museum.
There is no place to store luggage, large book bags or rucksacks, so it is wise not to bring them with you. The corridors in the museum are narrow so such items are not permitted.
There is a gift shop that provides a wide range of souvenirs, gifts, games, toys, clothing, DVDs, CDs, books and posters that highlight the theme of the museum and the era in time.
Food and refreshments can be found at the Switch Room Cafe. It is open daily from 10:00 – 17:00 (5:00 pm). Hot food is served until 15:00 (3:00 pm).
One can easily spend most of the day here if you have a real interest in history or as little as a couple of hours. It all depends on your interest in the time period and the role of Britain and Churchill in World War II.