The Founding of the Royal Hospital Chelsea

Until the 17th Century the state made no specific provision for old and injured soldiers. Care for the poor and sick was provided by the religious foundations. Most of this provision ended following the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of King Henry VIII.

In 1681, responding to the need to look after these soldiers, King Charles II (image right) issued a Royal Warrant authorising the building of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to care for those 'broken by age or war'.

Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to design and erect the building. Sir Stephen Fox was commissioned to secure the funds necessary to progress the build. 

The chosen site, set adjacent to the River Thames in the countryside of Chelsea contained the uncompleted building of the former 'Chelsey College'. In 1692 work was finally completed and the first Chelsea Pensioners were admitted in February 1692 and by the end of March the full complement of 476 were in residence.

 

King Charles II

Royal Hospital Chelsea Newsletter

Stay up to date with what's going on at The Royal Hospital by signing up for our e‑newsletter.

News

View the archive

Royal Hospital Chelsea pays tribute to Chelsea Pensioner, Bill Speakman VC

First soldier to receive VC from Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully on 20th June at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, surrounded by his family.

Live at Chelsea 2018 Highlights

The Chelsea Pensioners and Royal Hospital staff enjoyed another fantastic year of Live at Chelsea including headline performances by Kaiser Chiefs & James Blunt.

Twitter

Follow @RHChelsea