John Carter makes the trip to London - and back in time - to soak up the Churchillian spirit of wartime Britain.

TO MY mind he’s our greatest ever Briton, but Sir Winston Churchill wouldn’t have tolerated me for one moment.

You see, our wartime leader hated unnecessary noise. He needed silence and time to think as he plotted the downfall of the Germans.

Woe betide anyone who interrupted one of his afternoon naps, so crucial to a man who thought nothing of working 20 hours a day as he attempted to outwit Hitler’s Nazis. Even his private secretaries were asked to work on silent typewriters shipped in especially from America.

The Oxford Times: The Map Room at CWR. Shot for Film Location. Photgraphed 7th October 2009.

But it was the ‘No whistling’ signs which really had me pondering how difficult it must have been to match up to our military leader’s exacting standards. I love a good whistle, me. There’s nothing better than starting the day with a good, old whistle in the shower, or trilling a harmonic tune along with the radio.

Just ask my poor, long-suffering partner, who accompanied me on our fact-finding trip to the Churchill War Rooms. I’m sure she’d have happily swiped one of those ‘No whistling’ signs straight off the wall if she thought it would have worked.

Both of us were eager to soak up more Churchill knowledge having been mesmerised by Gary Oldman’s portrayal in the Darkest Hour.

Oldman surely deserves to land the best actor award when the Oscars are announced on March 4, but just how close was his performance to the great man?

We knew, of course, that Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace and buried just outside the gates at Bladon. But was he really so impetuous? So hard on his staff? So unsure of himself?

The Oxford Times: Exterior view of Churchill War Rooms. Photographed 14th June 2012

Churchill War Rooms, located in Westminster just a stone’s throw from 10 Downing Street, provided the answer to these questions and more.

From the film, set in 1940 in the days following Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister, I expected the war rooms to be set deep beneath the capital, an impenetrable fortress designed to protect our wartime leaders.

Instead, take one flight of stairs underground and you’re among the warren of rooms where Churchill, his Cabinet and army of staff worked day and night to nullify the Nazis and eventually bring about the greatest of victories.

Even the great man himself realised it wasn’t the safest of buildings from which to mastermind his military operation, later ordering 1.5m thick concrete reinforcements in an effort to make it bomb-proof.

To add to the atmosphere, the war rooms remain virtually untouched from the moment staff packed up the day after the surrender of Japan in August 1945. Even the sugar lumps left behind by a Royal Air Force officer, Wing Commander John Heagerty, remain on a desk in the map room.

Alongside these rooms, the Imperial War Museum has developed a fascinating interactive tribute to Churchill, taking visitors on a journey from his birth to military rise, ousting as Prime Minister despite his wartime heroics, rise again as one of the world’s most popular speakers, and finally his grand state funeral.

From heart-breaking letters begging his parents to visit him at boarding school to his famous velvet ‘onesie’, there is much to make you warm to a man to whom we have so much to be thankful today.