Churchill War Rooms
Discover The Churchill War Rooms London with an expert tour guide.
Churchill War Rooms
Churchills War Rooms are a reminder that in 1940 Britain stood completely alone against Nazi Germany. The War Rooms were a place of shelter, a place to conduct the war effort while under heavy fire from the enemy. It has a name; it is called the Blitz, and not just of London, but most major cities, ports and airfields. Eventually, Nazi fighter pilots were given gruesome instructions to target civilians on the street.
The War Rooms were closed at the end of the war, occasionally used as storage, but mostly untouched. The Rooms opened to the public in 1984, and each year the visitor experience improved. We can tailor a tour of London to include the War Rooms, or you may like our suggested Royal London Tour. Alternatively, enjoy a behind the glass experience on the VIP tour of the War Rooms.
Come and explore this World War Two time capsule for yourself, forget the movies you have seen and see and hear the real story of Britain's survival. Along with the actual offices, operations rooms, map rooms and Churchill's bedroom, you can learn more about Churchill himself. A complex character, not always right, but, full of passion and energy, with the ability to see the big picture like no other.
An underground castle
As weapons have become more devastating, humans have devised new ways to protect themselves. In the past castles were useful, by the 1940's it was a vast concrete structure, underground if possible. The War Rooms started as a basement, with limited protection. Improvements made in December 1940, in the shape of a three-meter thick slab of concrete reassured occupants. However, a massive bomb over 225-kg (500-pound) would have pierced the 'slab' and caused carnage.
So, this underground castle wasn't perfect, but its most significant feature was that it was secret, which was kept from the Nazi high command the entire length of the war. The War Rooms were a place of intelligence gathering, information processing. King George VI, Prime Minister Churchill and head of armed forces were updated and made decisions based on War-Rooms information. We can tailor a tour of London to include places associated with WW2; please contact us.
Churchill's meetings and speeches
The war cabinet met here on 115 occasions, usually during a bombing raid. Can you imagine these smoke-filled rooms, people having tense conversations with the walls vibrating from bomb blasts above. Churchill made four speeches from the War Rooms, in fact, from his bedroom. There is a map of the British Isles on his wall, with potential invasion locations marked out and a metal bin for his cigar.
The Map Room
The Map Room looks almost as it did in 1945 with direct telephone lines to the head of each of the armed forces and map covered walls, showing the progress and eventually retreat of German troops. Due to rationing, sugar was in short supply. Wing Commander Heagerty's weeks' ration of sugar was found at the back of a draw in the 1980s. We can only imagine when the war was over Heagerty was in a rush to leave the War Rooms.
The complex was an unpleasant place; there were no flushing toilets, rats, low ceilings in dark stuffy dormitories.
Secrecy was vital
There were no socialising in corridors; you were encouraged never to ask questions that did not relate to your work, and every telephone has a reminder that 'speech on telephones is NOT SECRET.'
Working underground for long periods brought with it various health issues. Working hours were 'flexible.' Therefore, staff worked very long shifts for weeks on end. Sun lamps counteracted the effects of Vitamin D deficiencies. Sunburn became a new health issue as a result.
Last line of defence
There were times during the war that the public and government became convinced invasion of the country imminent. There were some days when people expected to see German paratroopers landing in Parliament Square, yards away from the War Rooms. The last line of defence in the war rooms was a group of forty marines, ready to defend the PM and staff. All over central London, innocent-looking newsstands were machine-gunning emplacements, and secret bunkers and artillery sites lay hidden from view.
Although the staff at the War Rooms used the chemical toilets, It seemed the PM was privileged enough to have his personal flushing lavatory. The room had a door lock with 'engaged' sign like any other toilet door. Behind that toilet door was not a WC at all, but a secret transatlantic telephone room.
Today we can call anybody in the world from our mobile phones. In the 1940s, this technology was cutting edge. In those days a room with forty tons of electronic equipment was needed to make telephone calls across the Atlantic.
The Churchill Museum
The Churchill Museum is the first of a kind. You will see personal items (cigars, painting and the door of No. 10 Downing) and real artefacts from the period. Hear the rousing speeches wartime speeches. You will discover Churchill the; aviator, soldier, writer, journalist, artist, father, husband and Prime Minister (twice). It is an incredible life and a remarkable person.
Touring and accommodation
The best places to stay in London are Mayfair, St James, and the Royal Borough of Kensington. If you are considering day tours from London, staying further west in Kensington makes sense. Harrods and Hyde Park are close. Staying in Mayfair and St James will give you easy access to Green Park, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and high-end shops. The theatre district called the ‘West End’ is a short hop too.
Our Tour Designers are here to customise your private tours of London and day tours from London. Tell us about you and your interests, and we will create a tailor-made tour. Our Royal Tour of London features The War Rooms. However, we can tailor a tour of London for you.
If this is your first time to England, we would recommend a custom version of our Town and Country Tour; it covers the famous places and allows you to utilise your private driver-guide by getting-off-the-beaten-path. Our Classic tour of Ireland is a good place to start for the first trip to Ireland, and we suggest the Classic tour of Scotland for your first trip to the bonny Highlands. Merging Wales with England makes for a dynamic experience of mountains, stately homes and cosy country pubs.
War Rooms and Churchill Museum
Walk into a WW2 Time Capsule
- VIP Tours Available
- Award Winning Museum
- Preserved Government Bunker
- See Operational Rooms
- See Artefacts from the Period
War Room Telephone Exchange
The Map Room
War Rooms Bomb Exhibit
WW2 Public Sign
Cabinet Meeting Room
Door of 10 Downing Street