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.

Alfred Mason, Durham Light Infantry (28 Commonwealth Brigade) remembers the conditions they were faced with during the conflict.

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.

With a history that goes back more than 300 years, it’s not surprising that there have been various reports of ghostly goings-on at the Royal Hospital. To mark Halloween, we’re sharing some of them with you.

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Grounds & Gardens
A glimpse of our glorious grounds – an update

Although it is sadly not currently possible to welcome visitors to our grounds and garden, Grounds & Gardens Manager Ric Glenn gives you a glimpse behind our gates and updates you on the work his team has been doing during lockdown.

Messages of Remembrance
Messages of Remembrance

As we approach Armistice Day on 11th November, we share messages of remembrance from the Governor of the Royal Hospital and the Chelsea Pensioners attending the Cenotaph. 

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