You may have seen them on parade, on TV, at the Cenotaph or around the the streets of Chelsea, but who are - and why are they known as - the Chelsea Pensioners?

From 1692 until 1955, all Army pensions were administered by and paid from the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which is why all Army pensioners were often referred to as Chelsea Pensioners.

Those who lived 'Out', in the UK or abroad and received their pension in cash from agents around the country were known as Out-Pensioners. All records for Out-Pensioners are held by the National Archives at Kew.

Over time, the term Out-Pensioner fell out of common usage and, in more recent times, it's only those Pensioners who retire to and live within the Royal Hospital who are now offically known as Chelsea Pensioners. These eligible veterans of the British Army surrendered their Army Pension and were admitted as residents of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

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Pensioners holding a Christmas wreath outside
Festive thoughts from the Chelsea Pensioners

Christmas is almost here and although life is still far from normal the Chelsea Pensioners are enjoying being part of our community at this special time. We are celebrating in many of the traditional ways at the Royal Hospital – while ensuring guidelines are followed and the Chelsea Pensioners stay as safe as possible. 

Stirring of the Christmas Pudding Ceremony 2021
Festive fun at the stirring of the Christmas Pudding ceremony

Chelsea Pensioners and staff gathered together in the Great Hall on the last day of November to usher in the start of Advent with the first of the Royal Hospital’s annual Christmas traditions. 

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