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Most Unusual Museum
Is This The Most Unusual
Museum in England?

portrait of Sir Winston Churchill

re several lumps of sugar worth putting in an historic museum? That may sound like a funny question, but the fact is that yes they are, especially if they're part of the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms (CWR) in London.

wax figure of telephone operatorLocated just a short walk from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the CWR opened in 1984 and is, at least in my view, one of the most intriguing museums in London. Although the city is full of captivating museums to suit almost every taste in things to see and do, the CWR should be a "must see" for everyone visiting London. Seeing it up close and personal, makes you feel as if you are actually there in those dark days of 1940, when Hitler's troops were expected on English soil, at any moment. Every room in this magnificent museum has been restored to the way it was when World War Two ended in May, 1945.

the map roomOne of the most important areas of the Cabinet War Rooms is the Map Room and, when you first see it you're struck, as I was, by the profusion of white, red and green telephones -- they're everywhere. The desk of the most important man in the room - the Chief Map Room Officer -- is strategically located in the center of the display, and it turns out he had a very sweet tooth. Maybe it was because sugar was in such short supply back then, but for some unknown reason he saved all his sugar lumps in an envelope - which he placed in his top desk drawer. During the restoration in 1980, when it was decided to make everything look the way it was during World War Two, one of the restorers opened all the drawers of this desk and, lo and behold, found these still perfect lumps of sugar! Wow!!! And yes, they too have been saved in this literally amazing museum. Because the CWR was the nerve center of Churchill's strategy in so much of the planning of Britain's wartime efforts in those days, the museum's location is also "somewhat secret." Their exact address is Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London, SW1A, but it's very easy to miss, because it's almost hidden from view off the Horse Guards Road. Unless you knew it was there, you could easily miss it altogether. It's online at www.iwm.org.uk and then scroll down the page and click on "Cabinet War Rooms & Churchill Museum Home."

wax figure of Churchill at his desk Churchill's bedroom

For more information on Great Britain in general, let me suggest you go to www.visitbritain.com or you can call the helpful folks at VisitBritain in New York at 1-800-462-2748. If London is in your travel plans, I hope you'll find time to visit this unique, one-of-a-kind museum. I know you'll find it fascinating.

(This is another in the series of "John Clayton's Travel With A Difference" stories on the www.TravelingBoy.com.)

Contact John by email: john@travelingboy.com


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John,

As a history and Churchill buff, I found your article to be chilling. I hope someday to make it to the museum. Is the CWR at all part of the Imperial War Museum? I don't know how I missed it in my only trip to London back in 2000.

Thanks again,

Gary Avrech
Santa Monica

Hey Gary....

Yes it is. If you go online and click on the IWM website, you'll find out even more information about this intriguing museum. Thanks for your times and words.

John

John,

Very excited to see your appearance in the Boitano Blog. I don't know who the hell all those Boitanos are, but I know who John Clayton is! Hey, I wrote a note on your column on the Cabinet War Rooms. I'll be a regular reader. I certainly hope all are well and happy on the Peninsula and that all your travels are still terrific.

Ed P

John,

I urge anyone traveling to London to put the Cabinet War Rooms high on their "must see" list. All who've taken my advice have thanked me, just like I thanked you, and do so again, for recommending the museum to me years ago. But then, it's just one of many suggestions of yours, every one brilliant!

Ed, Port St. Lucie, FL

Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
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Charlie Chaplin and the Chaplin Museum
Lake Geneva/ Matterhorn Region and Switzerland Tourism recently blew into Los Angeles with the most esteemed guest, Eugene Chaplin. A man of remarkable lineage, he is the fifth child of Oona O'Neill and Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, the grandson of playwright Eugene O'Neill, the brother of Geraldine Chaplin and father of actress/model Kiera Chaplin.

Go There

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Treasures of Ireland: The Burren (Dispatch #14)

a dolmen at The Burren

The Palladian Traveler ventures back to the days of fearless Celtic warriors to search for some "stones to take you home" as he files his latest dispatch from the monochromatic moonscape known as The Burren.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Buckingham Palace – It's THE Most Popular Tour in Great Britain (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)

Buckingham Palace exit
Is it more momentous for a Brit to do the Buckingham Palace tour than say an American or indeed any other nationality? Yes, I know that's an odd question, but if you grow up – as I did – in London back in the 1950s, getting inside Buckingham Palace was the stuff of dreams. Hence my surprise at touring BP in 2005.

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Paradise on Earth: The Romance of Tahiti and Her Islands

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
The first thing you notice is the fragrance. The intoxicating perfume of the tiare flower announces to your senses that you are in a magical place, overflowing with tropical vegetation and soothing trade winds. It is the same fragrance that the English seamen on the HMS Bounty also first encountered; but they came, not for flowers, but for breadfruit, intended as a new food staple for their slaves in the West Indies.

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Christmas card
"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" goes the song. Robert Goulet sang it and Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis, too, and it surely comes to mind when you stand on a bluff in the Luberon of Provence and stare across at the little hill village of Gordes. The view is the best part; the village's interior itself is not dramatic and stands as a warning of what contemporary popularity can do to the simple homes of 12th century working people.

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Exploring Venice: Lost and Found. And Special Finds. Repeat.

Venice street musicians
Walking home to our apartment in Venice, we share a wave through the window with the owner of Baba, our local osteria. Leaving for a day of sightseeing, a cup of my favorite pistachio gelato awaits me despite the early hour. At the Bar Dugole, we relax after a day of sightseeing and order the regular: vodka for my husband and Amaretto for me.

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