London is an incredible city. At nearly 2,000 years old, it has been an important city from day 1. Built by the Romans after their invasion of England as a fortified town, it has been raised to the ground and rebuilt on several different occasions. With an incredible mix of unbelievably old buildings, and modern glass and steel skyscrapers, it is a city of change and culture.
Home to almost 9 millions Brits from all over the world, it has endured the test of time and remains one of the world’s greatest cities. Amongst the incredible tribulations thrown at this magical place were two World Wars- with the 2nd World War leaving massive destruction in its wake thanks to the introduction of war planes. If you are making the most of your Heathrow Rewards scheme, and are history buff looking to enjoy the city, then you can’t go wrong with checking out some of London’s incredible war time history.
London was obviously the centre of the war effort in Great Britain and Europe, and the remnants of this can be explored throughout the city. So let us help you enjoy your stay to its fullest extent and utilise your Premier Club Rewards with a gorgeous stay at the Paddington Court Suites in the city centre. Let’s take a look at London’s best historical war time sights.
Churchill War Rooms
The Churchill War Rooms are one of the most unique and immersive World War 2 exhibitions in the world. Held in the bunkers and tunnels under the HM Treasury Building in the heart of the city is the actual bunker where Churchill and his team orchestrated the War Machine. You can visit the preserved map room where Generals and Churchill himself kept tabs on the effort in Europe. You can even visit the great man’s chambers where he slept and sheltered from the air raids that all but destroyed the city. There is also a BBC broadcast room where the public were kept up to date with the ongoing events on the continent, and also a transatlantic communication room, where Churchill’s team kept in contact with the Allied forces. After all this you can visit the Churchill Museum above ground, and see an incredible 15 metre life-line featuring all the incredible events that occurred during his Prime Ministerial reign.
Women of World War II Memorial
An often overlooked, but fascinating part of the war effort was the input of the UK’s female forces. Women were not permitted to fight in combat, but that does not mean they did not play a crucial role. In fact, over 400,000 women were admitted into the armed forces to support male troops- by 1943, 9 out of 10 women worked the land to produce food for the starving nation, worked in factories to produce goods, or worked in the armed forces to support the troops in Europe. This incredible memorial immortalises the gargantuan effort to keep the country running during the war, and the amazing uniforms on display really humaise the whole scenario. This is a free exhibit open to the public, and a truly incredible experience.
The Cenotaph in Whitehall is perhaps the most visited and meaningful war memorial in the country. Cenotaph means ‘empty tomb’ in Greek, and this is essentially what it is. Constructed and unveiled by King George V in 1920 it was rebuilt and made a permanent fixture in London, to serve as a reminder of the dead who fought in both World Wars. Looming above the street like a giant tombstone, the Cenotaph is extraordinarily meaningful to thousands of people who lost loved ones during the war, and although there are no actual bodies there, the spirits of the fallen are imbued in its nature. The Cenotaph simply reads ‘The Glorious Dead’, and honours all who fell to save our liberty.
Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum is one of the world’s finest museums- leading the globe in its breadth and depth of exhibits and collections. The original purpose of the museum was to give a voice and a personality to the awful stories that came from World Wars. The museum honours those who fought, and seeks to remind us of the evil we defeated that can never be allowed to return. The incredibly difficult Holocaust Galleries serve as a bitter reminder of what we lost, and what the people of Europe experienced, whilst the collections of medals, uniforms, papers and other military paraphanaila is one of the best on the planet. There are stories that changed the face of the war, weapons that gave the upper hand, and machines that helped deliver victory on display. As well as an incredible and heart-breaking series of beautifully restored and cared for photographs.
Royal Air Force Museum London
The Royal Air Force Museum gives an incredible insight into one of the key areas of the British War effort, that actually gave us the upper hand over the enemy. The museum celebrates the RAF, and its incredible catalogue of brave men and women who have kept our skies safe for the last hundred years. The awesome World War II display will teach you about the aircraft that allowed us to outgun the Luftwaffe, see for yourself the incredible equipment and learn about the greatest pilots of the era- true heroes of the war. There are also displays and exhibits from the modern era of the RAF, with fighter jets and long distance weaponry on display. The museum is excellent, but the 2nd World War displays are second to none.
So there you have it, the best places to visit in London for a history buff looking to immerse themselves in the city’s wartime history. All of the places on this list are within easy reach of your Kensington London Hotel, and the city centre. Don’t miss out on an incredible and important part of London’s illustrious city, get out there and explore the past, learn about the heroes of the war, and how our nation came together and triumphed over evil.