One of my favorite experiences in London was our visit to the Churchill War Rooms. This is not an ordinary museum. The museum is contained within the actual bunkers and cabinet rooms that Churchill and his staff used during the Blitz.
As the building was not originally built to be a museum, the layout is usual. The museum is set up so that you follow a path through all of the rooms, rather than free-roaming or picking your starting point. The tour is self-guided with a audio tour that highlights certain objects and important details. The audio tour was very comprehensive and really added value to the experience.
The first part of the museum leads you down winding corridors which house offices and bunkers.
The second part of the museum is a large space dedicated to Churchill's life. There are fantastic quotes sprinkled all over this section. My favorite is the glow worm quote.
There are tons of pictures and objects depicting how Churchill was perceived in popular culture.
They have an Engima Encoding Machine.
Churchill was given a honorary United States Citizenship (at the time, he was only the second person to receive the honor) and his friend, President Harry Truman, wrote a congratulatory letter.
I learned new things about Churchill, such as his love and talent for painting. He even published a book on the subject.
One of my favorite sections of the museum shows Churchill's love of animals. There is an interactive section, where you approach a bookshelf and pull out a stuffed animal which triggers a Churchill quote involving animals. There are several animals, each triggering a different quote.
The museum has more somber artifacts, like the flag draped over Churchill's casket.
There are also many of political posters regarding his campaign. It was at this point in our visit where we began to feel rushed. We opted to visit the museum two hours prior to closing and it was not nearly enough time. Museum employees urged us to hurry up and move on to the final part of the museum and we could only gloss over the section on his wife and his rise in politics.
The last part of the tour takes you through Churchill's private room, his wife's (Clementine) private room, the rooms of important staff members, Churchill's dining room, the communications hub and conference rooms. The rooms have mostly been left untouched since they became disused after the war. The furniture pieces are original.
The museum has a wonderful gift shop, where we bought a bunch of postcards with war propaganda slogans. We plan to frame them and hang them up in our home.
If you're planning a trip to London, make sure that the Churchill War Rooms is at the top of your must-do list. It's an important piece of History and a very comprehensive museum. Make sure to allow half a day to really take your time and absorb the experience. Check their official site for current ticket prices and hours.