From the First World War to the Second, and through the Cold War to the changes of the nineties and the dawn of the new millennium, the 20th century is one of incredible social, political and technological developments across the world – and London has played a central part in many of these changes. A city that takes pride in preserving its history, there are many ways to step back into the past. For some of the best places to visit on a study tour to learn about the history of the last century, read on.
The Museum of London
The scope of the Museum of London is incredible, tracing the story of the area from prehistory to the present; so whatever aspect of history your class has been focusing on, there will be plenty of fascinating insight for them to uncover by visiting this museum on their study tour. While many history-based museums tend to specialise in life before the 1900s, the Museum of London includes several interesting windows on the 20th century. The ‘People’s City’ tracks the changing face of London up to the 1940s, including World Wars I and II, while the ‘World City’ section looks at society and culture from 1950 onwards. For those groups who are planning to go on and study any of these decades in closer detail, or visit monuments relating to a particular event, the Museum of London offers an invaluable way for students to put those events into their wider context as part of the ongoing story of an ever-changing city.
The Churchill War Rooms
One of the most dramatic events in London’s recent history, the Second World War, is still etched across the city’s memory, commemorated in grand monuments and ordinary citizens’ stories alike. There are plenty of opportunities for those visiting on a study tour to investigate this history, but only one way to get to the heart of events – the Churchill War Rooms museum. Part of the larger Imperial War Museum, it preserves the original Cabinet War Rooms, which were built in the late 1930s as war was brewing, to provide a safe centre for government. It was used by Army, Air Force and Navy officers as well as the Prime Minister and Cabinet, becoming the nexus of the war effort. Visitors can discover the rooms and equipment, as well as an informative exhibition on the life of Winston Churchill.
Cruise the Thames
A fun experience with fantastic views, a Thames cruise is also a great way for students to build up a fuller picture of London. The skyline on either side of the river is a patchwork of styles and eras; trying to identify which eras particular buildings come from can help consolidate and contextualise the way the modern city has built new chapters of itself alongside what’s come before – as well as providing a memorable start or finish to a study tour.