The Cabinet War Rooms, also known as the Churchill War Rooms, is part of the Imperial War Museums and served as the British government’s headquarters during World War II. Churchill’s government-held 115 cabinet meetings in the Central War Room, which also included a dormitory for staff, private bedrooms for important government officials and military officers, and a switchboard for telephone operators. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, and there are plenty of interesting exhibits and places to explore throughout the War Rooms. There are also many interesting facts about this underground nerve center that we will share with you below.
Same, Yet Different
The Churchill War Rooms are actually two different museums. The Cabinet War Rooms describes the full underground complex that the government used during the war, while the Churchill Museum is the other half of the equation and dedicated to Prime Minister Churchill’s life and service.
While it was mentioned above that 115 cabinet meetings were held in the Cabinet War Rooms, not all of them took place while Churchill was Prime Minister. The first meeting held here was under Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in October 1939. After the Battle of France began on May 10, 1940, Chamberlain stepped down as Prime Minister since Labour would not form a coalition government with him, paving the way for Churchill to become Prime Minister and his War Cabinet (including Chamberlain, Clement Atlee, Viscount Halifax, and Arthur Greenwood) would meet in the Cabinet War Rooms for the rest of the war.
Gone and Mostly Forgotten
In 1945, the lights were turned off in the War Rooms after six years of service. The rooms remained untouched until the 1980s, when they were reopened by the Imperial War Museums as a visitor attraction.
It’s an Enigma
The Cabinet War Rooms are home to one of the surviving Enigma coding machines, which the German Navy used to encode their communications. A team led by Alan Turing at Bletchley Park ultimately broke the code of the machines.
The Intimidation Game
No, you didn’t read that header wrong. If you visit the Cabinet War Rooms, you’ll notice the tables and seats are arranged in such a way that they form a well with three seats dead center. These central seats were for the heads of the British Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force. Churchill liked to get up close and personal with his military leaders and was well-known for pushing them beyond their normal comfort levels in cabinet meetings.
Since many of the staff members in the War Rooms worked and lived there twenty-four hours a day, there were a number of measures to counter the negative health effects of spending constant time underground. One was the artificial sun lamps in which staff had to stand in front in nothing but their underwear and a pair of protective goggles. Apparently, incidents of sunburn were common, and one girl nearly went blind because she forgot to put her goggles over her eyes.
Found His Stash
When the Cabinet War Rooms opened in the 1980s to prepare them as a museum, one of the IWM staff members found sugar cubes stashed away in the desk of Wing Commander John Heagerty. Since the government rationed sugar during the war, it appears that Heagerty squirreled his ration of sugar away and, judging from the shape in which the cubes were found, he’d shave off a little as needed to make them last.
Strong, but not *that* Strong
The Cabinet Warm Rooms were built with a steel protective structure overhead and later had five feet of concrete known as “The Slab” added to protect staff from bombs as well as a net to catch any wayward German explosives. However, while the War Rooms could survive a close blast, a direct hit would not have protected them. As such, keeping the War Rooms’ location a secret from the Axis Powers was extremely important.
The Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms house a number of his personal items, including bowlers, cigars, and even one of his custom “Siren Suits.” Siren Suits were onesies that people wore during WWII when going into bunkers that could be easily put on and provided a level of modesty and warmth underground.
Broadcasting from the Bunker
Churchill’s office/bedroom in the Cabinet Warm Rooms included his own personal BBC radio broadcasting equipment. Churchill only used it four times during the war.
The Cotswolds has quickly become one of my favourite holiday destinations in the UK and there is so much to do there for families. With that being said I thought would round up my favourite things to do.
Eat / Stay at The Wild Rabbit
A recent new favourite hotel for me and my family is The Wild Rabbit in Kingham in the Cotswolds. At this gorgeous modern British Inn you can stay in a cottage that’s the perfect size for you, really a home away from home! The food at the inn is absolutely delicious and gives modern British comfort food a gourmet twist!
2. Visit Daylesford Organic
The ultimate in farmshops! Daylesford Organic has become renowned for the quality of food sold at the farm shop. But not only that – there’s homeware and incredible bath and body products too. At the Kingham flagship you can also enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a treatment at the Bamford Spa.
3. A Trip To Cotswold Farm Park
Cotswold Farm Park is a brilliant day out for all the family! It was perfect for Oscar (aged 2) and my nephews who are 4 and 10. There are farm animals to feed, there’s horse riding, a playground for both smaller kids and bigger kids, trampoling and more.
There’s also plenty of food options including hot meals plus a shop to pick up some fantastic souvenirs.
4. Stay / Eat at The Fish
The Fish was one of my favourite hotel stays of last year, located on the Farncombe Estate in the village of Broadway in Worcestershire. I recommend booking a treehouse for the family (we loved using the outdoor bathtubs while Oscar slept in the room) and enjoying the adventure play and food at Hook – a fish restaurant of course.
5. Visit Bicester Village
A less bucolic activity but a fab one nonetheless – people come from miles around to visit the famous Bicester Village shopping centre. Out of the best outlet shopping centre’s in the UK, designer names abound at Bicester village but the classy shopping experience, fab restaurants (recommend Farmshop by Soho House) and VIP experience make a visit so much more than a shopping trip!
6. Eat / Stay Soho Farmhouse
My favourite hotel in the UK just happens to be in the Cotswolds too! Soho Farmhouse is like an adults playground (though it’s child-friendly too!) with multiple restaurants, boats, mini golf, horse riding, swimming, the gym, a cinema and more!
You have to be a member or a friend of a member to visit but if you can, I highly encourage a stay there!
7. Blenheim Palace
For a spot of history I’d highly recommend a trip to Blenheim Palace – a 300 hundred year old Manor house in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Here you can explore ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ rooms as well as formal gardens. You can also stop for a spot of afternoon tea!
8. Village Walks
The Cotswolds is home to some of the UK’s most beautiful villages. I’ve personally visited Kingham, Broadway, Woodstock and Painswick and I have had Burford, Chipping Campden and Upper and Lower Slaughter recommended to me.
Think beautiful stone cottages, sleepy rivers, centuries old churches and country pubs!
9. Stay / Eat at Lucknam Park
I visited this gorgeous 18th Century Manor in Chippenham for a girly babymoon when I was thirty weeks pregnant with Oscar. Lucknam Park hotel is the perfect place to relax, enjoy the grounds and spa as well as gourmet food offerings.
10. Eat / Stay at Calcot Manor
I have fond memories of a bloggers reunion at Calcot Manor in Gloucestershire! We enjoyed a delicious lunch in the hotel’s ‘pub’ and unfortunately we didn’t get to stay but I’d love to come back and try the hotel’s renowned spa as well as relaxing by the fire in the hotel’s beautiful lounges.
Have you been to any of these places or do you have any top tips? I’d love to know!
London Underground’s first major expansion this century has opened.
Two new Northern line stations opened in south London following a £1.1 billion project.
The first train on the new route departed from Battersea Power Station at 5.28 am.
It called at the other new station, Nine Elms, before reaching the existing station of Kennington.
London mayor Sadiq Khan says the services will play “a major role” in the capital’s recovery from the pandemic by “supporting thousands of new jobs, homes, and businesses.”
This is the first major expansion of the Tube since the Jubilee line was opened in the late 1990s.
The Greater London Authority borrowed £1 billion for the project, which will be funded through business rates from the local area and about £270 million of contributions from developers.
Major construction on the two-mile twin railway tunnel between Kennington and Battersea began in 2015.
There will initially be a peak-time service of six trains per hour, falling to five per hour during off-peak periods.
Frequencies will be doubled by the middle of next year.
TfL estimated that the new services will support 25,000 new jobs and 20,000 new homes.
Billions of pounds of investment have been pumped into the area in recent years, including through the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station for residential and business use and the building of a new US embassy in Nine Elms.
The opening of two new stations will bring the total number on the network to 272.
London Underground’s first major expansion this century demonstrates how the capital must “play its part” in the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has claimed.
Mr. Khan, who has been embroiled in a long-running row with the Government over funding for Transport for London (TfL), said he was “proud and grateful” to be joined by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on one of the first trains to serve Battersea Power Station.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s great to see the difference teamwork makes; it’s great to see the difference investing in infrastructure makes in relation to unlocking jobs and homes.
“Most of the things we’re using today were built around the country. Every pound we spend on the Underground, 55 pence goes to the rest of the country.
“That’s good for the Secretary of State to see. I’m quite clear; you don’t make our country more equal by making London poorer.
“If we’re going to get a national recovery, we need London to play its part.”
Mr. Khan has repeatedly called for the Government to give TfL a long-term funding package as its finances struggle to cope with the collapse in fares revenue during the pandemic.
“Mon, I didn’t know you were going away. Are you in Italy!?” This was a text message I received from a friend immediately after I’d posted a photo from Portmeirion on Facebook. The sun was shining, it was 22C, I was licking chocolate chip flavoured gelato while staring out to sea. I was surrounded by …
Transport for London (TfL) has unveiled a new Tube map showing the first major expansion of the network this century.
The map features the two new stations making up the Northern line extension in south London.
Trains will begin serving Nine Elms, and Battersea Power Station from around 5.30 am on Monday.
It is the first major expansion of the London Underground since the Jubilee line was opened in the late 1990s.
Billions of pounds of investment have been pumped into the area in recent years, including through the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station for residential and business use and the building of a new US Embassy in Nine Elms.
TfL said the estimated final cost of extending the Northern line from Kennington is £1.1 billion.
The Greater London Authority borrowed £1 billion for the expansion, which will be funded through business rates from the local area and around £270 million of contributions paid by developers.
The scheme takes the total number of Tube stations to 272.
Carl Painter, London Underground area manager responsible for the new stations, said: “There is a palpable air of excitement behind the doors in both of our state-of-the-art new stations as around 100 staff get ready to welcome customers from Monday.
“London Underground stations have a long history of helping to define a neighborhood’s identity, in gluing communities together and providing a highly visible landmark that helps visitors to navigate.
“We look forward to welcoming customers to the newest additions to the Tube network next week.”