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.
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.