A while back PBS did a series of programs where they found a house from a certain time period, restored it to its original condition, and then found a family to volunteer to live in it & completely immerse themselves in that time period for a few months. Wearing their clothes, cooking based on recipes from that time, doing chores with (or without) the tools of that day. My favorite was the 1900's house, because that was my chance to see how my Samantha doll would have actually lived. No, I'm not a 10 year old girl - but I've always been a sucker for anything historical. Trust me, you will get sucked into every. single. episode. It's like the original reality shows before their were reality shows. Many a family meltdown. In period clothes. Watch them. You won't regret it.
As fun as it was to watch people from today try to live without electricity, the most educational version to me was the 1940's house. Because my grandparents lived through that era. And at least it doesn't seem like that was too long ago. They had cars, electricity, email. Ok maybe I'm jumping ahead a bit. But it was incredible watching these adults & kids black out their windows. Build (& hide in) bomb shelters. Buy food with ration coupons. Make victory gardens. All in the heart of modern day London. America has World War II history too, don't get me wrong. But thinking about living in London in the height of the Blitz sends a shiver down my spine. So thanks to Andy's love of history & Churchill and my knowledge base from PBS documentaries, we made sure one of our last stops in London was visiting Churchill's War Rooms.
Prime Minister Churchill left 10 Downing Street & headed down into a bunker not too far away, where he & his staff remained throughout the majority of the war. I learned more than I thought possible walking through the dark corridors, but it made it the whole war seem real. To imagine people working so hard with the little technology they had to protect their fellow men. When the war ended in 1945, everyone came up to the surface & the door was shut. Until the 1980's when the world given the chance to walk through history too. So there was a renovation to add a museum about Churchill mid way through the exhibit, but everything else is as it was left when the war ended. A real live walk through time capsule.
Seeing the maps covering the walls was by far our favorite part as we are avid map collectors. But I loved that you could see tiny pinholes in them where subs had been spotted. And pins marking the movement of enemy troops.
This may not be your cup of tea. But it was enlightening. And did a far better job than history books of explaining what the situation was really like. It's like I could imagine the hubbub & the whole place shaking with the bombs that were falling nearby. And it made the war seem real. I know it was real - but it was like I experienced a small part of it. I've seen Pearl Harbor. And it's sad - trust me. But this was almost empowering. Seeing the maps & equipment & imaging the hustle & bustle there was like seeing into the minds of the game changers of WWII.
Don't skip out on the Churchill museum while you are there. You'll quickly discover he was quite the confident one. Don't miss his famous pocket watch or the old door from #10 Downing Street! Oh, and an audio guide is part of the tour - let this be your reminder to bring your own earbuds! They come in handy more often than you would think!
Today is officially my last post all about our time in London. We saw so much more than the little bit thrown into these posts - so bring on your questions if you are trip planning! I'll spend the 31st of this month answering each and every pressing question! Tomorrow will start our whirlwind tour of Paris and then we will finish up the month with some las minute tips