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Best sites for a history buff

The Dalles, Oregon
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Best sites for a history buff

My son and I will be in London May 18 to May 29. We'll be staying in one location for the duration. We've done a short trip to parts of England before, so this trip we are going to focus mostly on places reachable by the tube (and maybe a day in Dover). My son is a big WWII and general history buff, so the "obvious" must-sees are:

Churchill War Rooms

Imperial War Museum (may visit two of them)

HMS Belfast (if it is open)

Tower of London (we already have our tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys)

I've browsed the 2 for 1 deals and will have to wait to see what is available when they have new dates (many offers expire at the end of April). Are there any other "must sees" that are similar?

Also, I'd love to do a good "ghost tour" or two or three (did an Underground Tour in Edinburgh a few years ago). Any suggestions there? I've heard to avoid the London Dungeons, but are there any good ones (even cheesy is ok as long as it's fun).

Thank you!

U.S. expats
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for Windsor, London, Dry Tortugas National Park
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1. Re: Best sites for a history buff

London Walks do a ghost tour almost every night. They also do a tour during the day called "Westminster at War" which ends at the Churchill War Rooms--might be ideal for your you.

http://www.walks.com/

Walks are about 2 hours in length.

You are aware that the Ceremony of the Keys, while fascinating, will not allow you to tour any of the Tower of London? The buildings will be locked for the night, so if you fancy a visit to the Tower, you'll have to plan to come an additional time. Plan on about three hours to see it all.

Ithaca, NY
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2. Re: Best sites for a history buff

If you are at all interested in Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace is a great place to visit. It's a quick and easy short train ride from London.

Sheffield
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3. Re: Best sites for a history buff

Apart from WWII, has your son any particular people or eras that interest him? As you will both know, London stretches back quite a few years.

By the way, have you looked at Peter Ackroyd's Biography of London? He covers a lot and in a lively way. He reminds us that London wasn't just about monarchs and wasn't a quiet place.

The Dalles, Oregon
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4. Re: Best sites for a history buff

Thanks, everyone. The Westminster at War sounds like it may be perfect. And thank you for the reminder about the Ceremony of the Keys being "after hours", I was aware of that, but a reminder never hurts.

We'll look into Hampton Court Palace (I tend to find that era fascinating). My son also enjoys the medieval period, so we should both find a lot of things to enjoy.

I've never read Peter Ackroyd's Biography of London, but I'll add that to my "to-do" list before we visit. My son is an avid reader so he'll likely enjoy it as well.

Illinois
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5. Re: Best sites for a history buff

There's a book called The 25 Essential WWII Sites European Theater by Chuck Thompson that lists a lot of places in London and elsewhere in England.

There's also the RAF museum in Hendon, the Polish Insitute and Sikorski Museum, andt he Army Musem. There's also the American Memorial Chapel at St Paul's Cathedral.

London Walks also does a Blitz tour which takes you to areas tha were bombed in the Blitz and they have pictures of what the areas were like then and you can compare them to now.

There's some WWII stuff in the Museum of London Docklands. You can visit the RAF Battle of Britain Ops Room at Uxbridge. Brookwood Military Cemetery is reachable by tube and has US WWI and Commonwealth and European WWII graves.

Have you been to Cambridge? The American Cemetery there is a WWII cemetery, and the IWM Duxford has a big Battle of Britain exhibit. It's hard to do both of those in a day via public transport though. I think you'd either need a car or to take a cab unless you stay overnight.

There are a lot of WWII memorials along the Victoria Embankment, and a memorial to the Firefighters of WWII near St Paul's.

I know there's more, but that's what I can remember off the top of my head.

Illinois
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6. Re: Best sites for a history buff

Oh, if you go to Hampton Court Palace there's Bushy Park across the street which is where the American headquarters were for a time. There's a free downloadable audioguide on the park's website to direct you to where the sites used to be (the buildings are pretty much all gone).

You can also see Eisenhower's London headquarters, and there are some WWII statues in the park across from the American Embassy (as well as a memorial to 9/11).

U.S. expats
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7. Re: Best sites for a history buff

Well, if we are going further afield, there is also Bletchley Park, and the incredible Bovington Tank Museum.

And of course you aren't all that far from the D-Day beaches....

Illinois
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8. Re: Best sites for a history buff

I think Bovington's hard to get to by public transport. Bletchley Park isn't, though. I think the D-day beaches are pushing it.

Steamboat Springs...
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9. Re: Best sites for a history buff

As a pilot and former aircraft engineer, I loved the RAF museum. The IWM and USAAF in Britain Museum in Duxford was another nice site, especially if the restoration workshops are open.

Cheers

London UK
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10. Re: Best sites for a history buff

As you walk around London, keep your eyes open for shrapnel damage caused by bombs during WWII. There are shrapnel marks around the base of Clepatra's Needle, the plinths of various statues in the southern end of Waterloo Place, etc, all of which are a reminder that London was heavily bombed from 1940 onwards.