Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum plus Number Ten

October 28, 2007 at 3:51 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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About a month ago my parents and I went to the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum. The 1940s architecture and historical importance of the Cabinet War Rooms is placed alongside the technologically advanced Curchill Museum creating an odd juxtaposition. Though for one getting bored with any number of dry set piece museums the interactivity and flashing lights is a welcome relief.

Cabinet War Rooms (3) Cabinet War Rooms (2)

Cabinet War Rooms (16)

Briefly, the Cabinet War Rooms are situated underground in a specially reinforced bunker implemented during the Second World War – particularly in reaction to the Blitz. Their proximity to 10 Downing Street and other important ministries permitted relative ease of access and flow of information. Although Winston Churchill didn’t always abide those measures – much to the chagrin of his minders. The war rooms are not a museum per se rather a walkthrough of glass enclosed rooms that give us a perspective on the living and working conditions of the cabinet and its staff that had been sealed up almost immediately at the end of the war. In order to assist us in our journey you receive as part of your admission a History Channel sponsored audio tour. As with all audio tours it offers insight and historical context which provides significant assistance for the uninitiated. My only complaint with the audio tour is unlike others I’ve been on it didn’t feature ear buds or headphones rather a handheld headset style meaning you are occasionally disturbed by other people with the volume on high. However, not a major issue as on the day we went there were very few people. Overall, the Cabinet War Rooms are interesting – not spectacular – simply interesting.

Cabinet War Rooms (6) Cabinet War Rooms (10)

About mid way through you will have the opportunity to enter the Churchill Museum (no photography unlike the Cabinet War Rooms). This is well worth the visit. Regardless of your opinions of Churchill the museum will provide an insight into his character and development from his childhood to death. My major praise for this museum is the interactivity that ranges from standing on the floor to activate speeches to the massive touch sensitive table in the centre that allows you to open up any number of significant dates for further information. Some of the displays were less than intuitive but on the whole I found the technology most interesting as I’ve not seen its equal in other British museums. Yet. My parents were also able to grasp the interfaces so that shouldn’t pose any problems for older generations. Oh and the content? Right, I suppose you might want to know about that too. I admit I haven’t read much independently on Winston Chruchill so I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the content but I went in assuming there’d be some bias. It is all critical reading, right?

Once out of the museum and cabinet war rooms via the well placed gift shop we return to street level. Either on your way in or out you may want to stop by and visit the Bali Bombing memorial. A simple globe with the names of victims on the wall. Notably this is all of the victims not only the British. Contrast this with the Australian memorial in Canberra that only lists the Australians – or if it does list all of them I don’t recall seeing an additional list in the memorial garden. Not cool Australia.

Cabinet War Rooms (19) Cabinet War Rooms (20) Bali remembrance

A short five minute walk away is 10 Downing Street the centre of government for the UK (Houses of Parliament, what?) and as tourists there is really no view but it’s close by and is probably a good thing to cross off.

Number Ten (3) Number Ten (2) Number Ten (6)

I wouldn’t place the Cabinet War Rooms or even the Churchill Museum on the top of my must see list in London but if you have some extra time it would be worthwhile particularly if you have an interest in modern history.

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