Become a Chelsea Pensioner

Become a Chelsea Pensioner

The Royal Hospital Chelsea is home to nearly 300 Chelsea Pensioners who have previously served in the British Army and have reached State Pension age.

Founded by King Charles II for those ‘broken by age or war’, the Royal Hospital opened its door to the first Chelsea Pensioners in 1692. It is a hospital in the original sense of the word in that it is a place of hospitality.

The Hospital has undergone much change over the more than 300 years of its existence. Community, comradeship and care remain at its heart, and Chelsea Pensioners continue to serve the nation and are involved in many national events – particularly during Remembrance.

We need Pensioners who have a sense of selflessness to support their comrades, enhance the reputation of the Royal Hospital and speak up for veteran pensioners who are less well cared for in their later years. We have a vibrant community which encourages a sense of pride and belonging.

We welcome applications from both male and female veterans who would like to play an active part in this community.

Life as a Chelsea Pensioner

On admission to the Royal Hospital Chelsea you will join one of our companies of Chelsea Pensioners led by a member of staff who is a retired Army officer.

You will be allocated a single, en suite, fully furnished berth on one of our ‘Long Wards’. All Long Wards have communal areas including lounge/ sitting area where Chelsea Pensioners can socialise.

The Royal Hospital provides full catering (3 meals a day) with a range of meal options available, served within our communal dining room – the Great Hall.

Chelsea Pensioners wear the uniforms which are provided. It is a requiremnet to wear the scarlet coat when representing the Royal Hospital on an organised visit or when on parade, such as the annual Founder Day parade in June.

Within the local vicinity of the Royal Hospital and when on-site, Chelsea Pensioners wear the blue day to day uniform.

There are many things to do at the Royal Hospital and Chelsea Pensioners are encouraged to live an active lifestyle.

Newly opened in 2023, we now have a purpose-built facility for hobbies and activities. Activities and events can be organised by staff and Pensioners themselves and are often supported by volunteers.

What’s on offer at the Royal Hospital Chelsea

There are many facilities and amenities at the Royal Hospital including a café, shop and Post Office, library, hairdresser, chapel and 66 acres of grounds including mature gardens and allotments.

The Chelsea Pensioners Club is the social hub of the Royal Hospital. It is a licensed bar, with a games room and a quiet reading room. On-site, there is also a bowling green, putting green and boules pitch.

As well as on-site facilities, the local high street, Kings Road, has supermarkets, banks, a chemist and many retail outlets. There is also a local public gym, swimming pool and cinema nearby.

Looking after you

There are a range of care and support services at the Royal Hospital Chelsea to ensure we can meet the changing needs of our Chelsea Pensioner population. We have a resident GP based in our on-site medical centre who works closely with other teams within our Department of Health & Wellbeing to ensure each Chelsea Pensioner can live an active and fulfilling life.

Within our Margaret Thatcher Infirmary building, we have our CQC registered care home with nursing, including a specialist environment for those living with dementia. The care home is available for Chelsea Pensioners on a short stay or permanent basis, depending on the level of care they need.

Your contribution

If you are in receipt of an Armed Forces Pension and/or a War Disablement Pension, these will cease upon admission to the Royal Hospital Chelsea. In some cases, an additional financial contribution will be required.

Applicants who do not have any form of Armed Forces Pension paid to them will be required to contribute an amount based on their personal financial circumstances. The amount you pay is subject to an annual review which reflects any changes to your personal circumstances.

The contribution goes toward the cost of providing all of your accommodation services, meals, utilities, support, the upkeep of the historic buildings and grounds, and, when the times comes, your registered care.

How to Apply
Contact the Chelsea Pensioner Admissions Officer:
Phone: 020 7881 5204

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Two Chelsea Pensioners opening the gate to the Soane Stable Yard
Royal Hospital Chelsea joins the Chelsea Heritage Quarter and Chelsea History Festival this September with special previews of the Soane Stable Yard

We are delighted to announce that the Royal Hospital Chelsea will be part of the Chelsea History Festival once again this year, from Wednesday 25 to Sunday 29 September 2024 and part of the new Chelsea Heritage Quarter – London’s new heritage destination. 

King's Birthday Honours 2024
Royal Hospital Model of Care recognised in two awards at King’s Birthday Honours

The Royal Hospital Chelsea’s model of care for older veterans has been recognised through awards for two members of staff in The King's Birthday Honours list this year.