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.

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.

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HRH, The Prince Philip - Duke of Edinburgh Painting
Chelsea Pensioners share recollections of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Royal Hospital Chelsea community continues to send our thoughts and condolences to the Royal Family at this difficult time. Many of our Chelsea Pensioners were fortunate enough to meet HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Hospital’s Founder’s Day celebrations or through his other official duties.

Infirmary Bombing
Remembering the Soane Infirmary bombing

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.

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