Founded in 1682, the Royal Hospital Chelsea opened its doors to the Nation's Army veterans just a decade later in 1692, embarking on a remarkable journey of over 330 years of history. Our goal is to preserve and share the rich heritage, history, and remarkable stories of the Chelsea Pensioners through the articles below:
From delivering post, to guiding visitors around our historic site, the Chelsea Pensioners can choose to take on a number of different jobs while living at the Royal Hospital. One of the more unusual roles previously adopted by Pensioners was as a member of the Chelsea Patrol; a London garrison stationed between the Royal Hospital and St James’ Palace to deter against criminal activity and protect the city against the growing threat posed by the Jacobite movement.
To mark Halloween, we’ve been investigating a murky period in the history of the Royal Hospital’s Old Burial Ground. First consecrated in 1691, over 1,000 Chelsea Pensioners, staff and families were laid to rest here before burials ceased in 1854.
Today, the Royal Hospital Chelsea’s South Grounds are famous for hosting the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show. However, the tradition of using our grounds for exhibitions began at the end of the 19th century.
Today, the historic grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea are enjoyed by Chelsea Pensioners and the visiting public alike. However, in the past, they have played host to some unusual and remarkable events.
The Royal Hospital dates back to the late 17th century, but the story of the land where it stands has been traced back still further. Research from the Museum of London Archaeology has thrown light on the site’s varied past.
Today marks 80 years following the bombing of the Royal Hospital’s Infirmary during the Second World War. The magnificent Infirmary, which once stood on the current site of the National Army Museum, was hit by a parachute bomb on 16 April 1941 – destroying most of the building and tragically ending the lives of 13 people.
From its extravagant beginnings as part of the estate of the 1st Earl of Ranelagh, Richard Jones (1641-1712), to its fashionable pleasure gardens and impressive rotunda, Ranelagh Gardens at the Royal Hospital Chelsea have boasted a long and fascinating history.
Whether you have been lucky enough to visit our Great Hall in person, or have experienced its grandeur by watching our virtual tours, it's difficult not to be impressed by the imposing mural that adorns the back wall where Pensioners take their meals.