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.

The monuments in the old Burial Ground record Chelsea Pensioners who took part in famous battles, former Governors and other members of staff and their families – and famous figures from the Royal Hospital’s history.

The last Sunday in June was a significant date for the Royal Hospital. Almost every Sunday, between April and November the Governor’s Parade – reviewed by the Governor, the Quartermaster or the Royal Hospital’s doctor - is conducted by the duty officer appointed for the week.  For the first time the duty officer responsible was a woman...

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.

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.

Colin was 20 years old when he was deployed –the youngest in the observation post Party he served in. He still suffers from the frostbite he got while cut off by the Chinese.

Gerry Farmer, 1951 Royal Fusiliers, lost his friend Cpl Derby in the conflict. He was left with shrapnel in his spine and lifelong claustrophobia, after being trapped in a Jeep at the bottom of a river while trying to escape Chinese mortars.

Arthur Bisson, Royal Military Police, was demobbed in 1947, then called up again to go to Korea in 1950. He served there for eight months in total.

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Ranelagh Gardens & Rotunda
From prehistoric marsh to a college that never opened – uncovering the story of our site

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.

Salisbury Court Gardens - Royal Hospital Chelsea
Royal Hospital's Hidden Show Garden

This year a new garden was successfully installed in Salisbury Court, the private courtyard within the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary.

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