At a glance
3 hours 30 minutes
Our tour today is split into two halves, the first part is spent in the spectacular museum known as the Churchill War rooms. From central Westminster, your guide takes you underground into the bunker that was home to the headquarters of the British war department. Then together, you can explore the very site where much of Allied war effort was managed from.
Many of the rooms have been left unchanged, giving us a real insight into working conditions. You would be forgiven for thinking that an office without air conditioning, plumbing, and playing temporary home to so many people, would be a hard place to work. However, your guide will share stories revealing how privileged many of the people working here felt, proud of the essential contribution they were making to the war effort. Who or what was sigsaly? Your guide can explain how Allied communications were encoded to hide their contents from Axis powers. Hear about revolutionary advances in cryptography and its effect on the war.
For those of you interested by Winston Churchill, part of war rooms are a museum dedicated to this great man. Lets discover together some of his uniforms, daily schedules, both formal and informal letters. The exhibits tell the story of the charismatic Winston Churchill, prime minister and wartime leader, but also a beloved family man. Did you know that he was also a writer and artist? His studio at home was a favourite retreat during quieter periods. Perhaps you’d like to see the wanted note, offering a £25 reward for turning in a young Churchill, following his escape from prison during the Boer War. Reaching the halfway point of our tour, there’s the chance to have some refreshments and to visit the gift shop for a souvenir.
Leaving the war rooms, we embark on a journey around Whitehall and Parliament square. This area is packed with various memorials and monuments, some very obvious, others hidden in and around ministerial buildings your guide will help you find. Every year Whitehall plays host to a grand military parade commemorating both World Wars. We will see the poppy wreaths and banners laid on the Cenotaph, the empty tomb.
Walking along Embankment we will visit many memorials dedicated to specific military groups that were involved in the conflict. Who were the Chindits? Learn about this revolutionary group of men who operated deep behind Japanese lines in Burma. Their commemorative plaque may be small in comparison to some monuments, but your guide will explain the significant impact these men had on the war and also on future styles of military operation.
Where do you find the Battle of Britain memorial? Together we can find this beautiful piece, then hear about the pivotal effect the Battle of Britain had on the path of the war. At the end of your tour your guide will be happy to tell you about more museums you can visit in London, or help with suggestions for the rest of your stay.
Clive Steps, Westminster, London SW1A 2HQ, UK