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. 

The Royal Hospital introduced its Breakfast Club before lockdown, but it’s really come into its own under the restrictions. 

When lockdown was first on the horizon, the Royal Hospital wanted to find activities that would keep the Pensioners interested and occupied, without putting them at risk. The Army drill of pace-sticking was suggested and not only has it proved extremely popular, the Chelsea Pensioner pace-stickers held their own against serving soldiers when they visited Sandhurst for the annual pace-sticking competition. Due to the exceptional circumstances this year, the usual international event was replaced by the first-ever tri-services contest.

World Mental Health Day is on October 10 and this year it feels more important than ever to recognise that it’s not just our physical health that’s important.  The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has had a huge impact on us all. And the Chelsea Pensioners are no exception.

Eighty years ago, Londoners were facing a crisis. A sustained bombing attack on the capital by the German army began on 7 September 1940 and continued until 11 May 1941. It became known as the Blitz – the German word for lightening. During the Blitz, almost 30,000 civilians were killed, 70,000 buildings were completely demolished and another 1.7 million were damaged.

The Royal Hospital’s Matron and Registered Manager, Susan Williams, has been a key part of our community for 10 years, so both Pensioners and staff are very sad to say goodbye to her.

Here at the Royal Hospital, we’ve long observed the benefits that taking part in activities has on the Chelsea Pensioners. Evidence from medical professionals increasingly supports our view that having interests improves physical and mental wellbeing and combats isolation.

To mark the International Day of Charity on 5 September we would like to highlight just how important and valued fundraisers are to the Royal Hospital. We are so grateful to all the kind people who have devoted their time, effort and talent to help us.

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.

This summer we are delighted to announce that, for the first time, the Luna Cinema will take up residency in our South Grounds. Tickets are now on sale to enjoy an outdoor, socially distanced, cinema experience over two weeks from the 25th of August.

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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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