Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms: Wikis


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Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms
Established 1984
Location Clive Steps
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AQ
United Kingdom
Visitor figures 306,600 (2007-08)[1].
Director Phil Reed
Public transit access Westminster
St James's Park
Imperial War Museum network
Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms · HMS Belfast · Imperial War Museum Duxford · Imperial War Museum North

The Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms is a museum in London and one of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum. The Cabinet War Rooms are an underground complex that had been used as an operational command and control centre by the British government throughout the Second World War. Located beneath the Treasury building in the Whitehall area of Westminster, the facilities were abandoned in August 1945 after the surrender of Japan. The Rooms were opened to the general public in 1984, having previously been managed by the Department for the Environment. Following a major expansion in 2003, the Rooms were reopened in 2005 as the rebranded Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, with the additional space developed as a biographical museum exploring the life of British statesman Winston Churchill.


Construction and wartime use

The Cabinet War Rooms became operational in 1939 and were heavily used by Winston Churchill and the War Cabinet during World War II. Engineered as a bunker, the facility was reinforced with a layer of concrete, one to three metres thick referred to as 'the slab'". Over 100 meetings were held in the Cabinet War Rooms between 1939 and 1945.

The section of the War Rooms open to the public is only a portion of a much larger facility. They originally covered three acres (12,000m²) and housed a staff of up to 528 people, with facilities including a canteen, hospital, shooting range and dormitories. The centrepiece of the War Rooms is the Cabinet Room itself, where Churchill's War Cabinet met. The Map Room is located nearby, from where the course of the war was directed. It is still in much the same condition as when it was abandoned, with the original maps still on the walls and telephones lining the desks. Churchill slept in a small nearby bedroom although, according to the audio presentation in the museum, he only slept in the war rooms for three nights over the course of the war. One feature of the bunker was a telephone scrambler system that allowed Churchill to securely speak with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House. The unit was concealed as the prime minister's lavatory.

Abandonment and preservation

Following the end of the war the Cabinet War Rooms became redundant and were abandoned. Their maintenance became the responsibility of the Ministry of Works[2][3] and later the Department for the Environment. While the Rooms were open to the public, they could only be accessed by appointment and access was restricted to small groups.[4]


In the early 1980s interest in the Rooms increased[5] and the government looked at options to increase the public’s access to them. In 1984 the Rooms were opened to the public after cooperation between the Imperial War Museum and the Property Services Agency. In 1989 responsibility for the Rooms was transferred to the Imperial War Museum.[6]


In 2003, nine rooms used by Churchill and his closest associates (including his wife), which had been stripped out after the war and used for storage, were added to the museum. These rooms are known as "The Churchill Suite". The Churchill Museum itself opened in February 2005. It is a chronological exhibition telling the story of Churchill's public and private life, using original and facsimile objects and documents and interactive display techniques. It contains the world's largest interactive display called 'The Lifeline' which covers the events and activities that took place over the course of Churchill's 90 year life.[7]

Entry to both the Churchill Museum and the Cabinet War Rooms is by one combined ticket.[8]


  1. ^ Department of Culture, Media and Sport: Monthly museum and gallery visitor figures[1]Figures for 2007/08 financial year. Accessed 19 January 2009.
  2. ^ 'News in Brief',The Times, 9 March 1948; Issue 51015; page 2 column C
  3. ^ Hansard, 8 March 1945; 'War Cabinet Rooms HC Deb 08 March 1948 vol 448 c115W' Hansard 1803-2005. Accessed 18 March 2009.
  4. ^ Hansard 6 December 1978; 'War Room, Storey’s Gate HC Deb 06 December 1978 vol 959 cc681-2W' Hansard 1803-2005. Accessed 18 March 2009.
  5. ^ 'The Times Diary: More visitors for the shrine under Whitehall', The Times, 1 June 1982, Issue 61248, page 14 column B
  6. ^ Hansard, 23 March 1989; 'Cabinet War Rooms: HC Deb 23 March 1989 vol 149 c780W' Hansard 1803-2005. Accessed 18 March 2009
  7. ^ For details of the development of the Churchill Museum, see Pickford, John (March 2008). "Making the Churchill Museum". Casson Mann. Retrieved 2009-03-28.  
  8. ^ Churchill Museum Fact Sheet accessed 01/01/08

External links

Coordinates: 51°30′07.5″N 0°07′44.5″W / 51.502083°N 0.129028°W / 51.502083; -0.129028



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