Underground headquarters

Inside Churchill War Rooms

The Cabinet War Rooms provided the secret underground headquarters for the core of the British government throughout the Second World War.

The fear that London would be the target of aerial bombardment had troubled the government since the First World War and in 1938 the basement of a Whitehall building was chosen as the site for the Cabinet War Rooms. From 1940 – 1945 hundreds of men and women would spend thousands of vital hours here and it soon became the inner sanctum of the British government.

Winston Churchill, Second World War, Churchill War Rooms

9 Secrets from Churchill War Rooms

Three sugar cubes on white paper belonging to Wing Commander John Heagerty, discovered in the Map Room in the 1980s.
Sugar cubes belonging to Wing Commander John Heagerty. They were discovered in the Map Room in the early 1980s.

Discover some of the hidden secrets and stories of Churchill War Rooms. 

Following the surrender of the Japanese Forces, the doors to the Cabinet War Rooms were locked on 16 August 1945 and the complex was left undisturbed until Parliament ensured its preservation as a historic site in 1948. Knowledge of the site and access to it remained highly restricted until the late 1970s when the Imperial War Museum began the task of preserving the site and its contents, making them accessible to as wide an audience as possible. In 1984 the main war rooms opened to the public. In 2003 further restoration work opened the ‘Courtyard Rooms’, the rooms where staff would eat, sleep and work in safety.

In 2005 we added the only major museum in the world dedicated to Sir Winston Churchill. Its multimedia and uniquely engaging approach provides visitors with a comprehensive overview of Churchill’s life.

Second World War, Churchill War Rooms

How Sugar Cubes Reveal Churchill War Rooms Well Preserved Past

Four military officers sit at desks while working in an underground bunker in 1945. There are maps pinned to the walls behind them.
©IWM (HU 58517)
Map room officers at work in the Cabinet War Rooms, 1945.

When IWM took over the Churchill War Rooms in the early 80s, three sugar cubes were discovered, hidden away in a desk drawer of the Map Room.

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The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, inspects a 'Tommy gun' while visiting coastal defence positions near Hartlepool. 31 July 1940.
© IWM H 2646A

Churchill Museum

Churchill War Rooms

Group of people taking part in a guided tour at Churchill War Rooms

Venue Hire Churchill War Rooms

Host your event in the very rooms where Winston Churchill and his cabinet led Britain to victory during the Second World War. 

Winston Churchill

Churchill War Rooms

Explore the underground headquarters that between 1939 - 1945 acted as the top-secret nerve centre from where Churchill and his inner circle determined the course of the Second World War.