A branch of the acclaimed Imperial War Museum, the Churchill War Rooms are set in the secret wartime bunker from which the cigar-puffing Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, directed the country’s war efforts. Situated beneath street level in London’s Westminster district, the Cabinet War Rooms were constructed shortly before the outbreak of World War II. Little has changed within them since the war came to a close in 1945, though these days, the underground complex functions as a museum, documenting the workings of the United Kingdom’s wartime government.
For anyone with an interest in WWII history or British politics, the Churchill War Rooms are an absolute must. They are divided into two areas: the original Cabinet War Rooms, including the all-important Map Room, and the Churchill Museum, which chronicles the life and work of the revered wartime leader. You can explore the exhibits independently with the aid of a complimentary audio guide. Some organized excursions combine entrance to the Churchill War Rooms with guided tours of Westminster Abbey and nearby WWII sites. London Pass holders get free entry to the Churchill War Rooms.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Allow at least 1.5 hours to explore the Churchill War Rooms.
- The Churchill War Rooms are accessible to wheelchair users.
- Book tickets in advance for fast-track entry.
How to Get There
The Churchill War Rooms are located on Clive Steps, just off Whitehall. The nearest Underground stations are Westminster (Jubilee, District, and Circle lines) and St. James’s Park (District and Circle lines). Charing Cross railway station is about a 12-minute walk away.
When to Get There
The Churchill War Rooms are busiest during the summer months (May through August); during school breaks (such as around Easter, and during February and October breaks); and on Saturdays. To avoid the crowds, go midweek.
Exploring WWII History in London
The Churchill War Rooms are not the only attraction in town to delve into WWII history. The Imperial War Museum in Lambeth, South London, also features WWII-oriented exhibits. A stone’s throw away on the South Bank sits HMS Belfast, a warship that took part in the Normandy landings in 1944, while Parliament Square hosts a statue of Winston Churchill. Bletchley Park, the Victorian estate where British intelligence cracked Germany’s enigma code, is within day-tripping distance of London.