The four storey wings on the East and West side of Figure Court contain the Chelsea Pensioners living quarters, which are known as Long Wards.

The original berths, as designed by Wren, measured six feet (1.8 metres) square.

Gas lighting was installed in 1854, but it was not until the early 20th century when electricity was installed that there was any lighting in the berths.

At present the East and West wings are symmetrically planned, with a pair of Long Wards arranged back-to-back on each side of the four floors. Each Long Ward is 200 feet (61 metres) long with a line of wainscoted berths running down the inner side, now containing 18 berths.

The stairs at the northern ends were designed to be shallow and wide for the convenience of the older and infirm.

The staircase in the East Wing is modern, having been damaged by bombing in 1940. The wood used to repair it was left over from the repair of the House of Commons, and the repaired wall is picked out in lighter brick.

Wren provided separate stairs at the south end of each wing as a means of escape in case of fire.

The berths were enlarged in 1954-55 and again in 1991 to 9 feet squared (2.7 metres squared).

As of October 2015 all Chelsea Pensioner berths have been upgraded to meet the needs of the 21st century veteran, with all berths designed with a study area and en suite bathroom facilities. Read more about this upgrade work here or watch the video below.

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

The Margaret Thatcher Infirmary celebrates National Care Home Open Day 2018

The Royal Hospital Chelsea is celebrating National Care Home Open Day 2018 on Friday 20th April, by opening the doors to its dedicated care facility – the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary (MTI).

Interview with Chelsea Pensioner brothers for National Siblings Day

Chelsea Pensioners, David and Tom Lyall describe their close sibling relationship 

Twitter

Follow @RHChelsea