Fodor's Expert Review Royal Hospital Chelsea

Chelsea Historical
Free

Charles II founded this residence for elderly and infirm soldiers in 1682 to reward the troops who had fought for him in the civil wars of 1642–46 and 1648. No sick people are treated here today; it's more of a history-packed retirement home. A creation of three of England's greatest architects—Wren, Vanbrugh, and Hawksmoor—this small enclave of brick and Portland stone set in expansive manicured grounds (which you can visit) surrounds the Figure Court (the figure being a 1682 gilded bronze statue of Charles II dressed as a Roman general). The beautiful Wren-designed chapel (a working church) and the Great Hall (the hospital's dining room) are open to the public at certain times during the day.

There is a small museum devoted to the history of the resident "Chelsea Pensioners," but the real attraction, along with the building, is the approximately 300 pensioners themselves. Recognizable by their traditional scarlet frock coats with gold buttons, medals, and tricorne hats,... READ MORE

Charles II founded this residence for elderly and infirm soldiers in 1682 to reward the troops who had fought for him in the civil wars of 1642–46 and 1648. No sick people are treated here today; it's more of a history-packed retirement home. A creation of three of England's greatest architects—Wren, Vanbrugh, and Hawksmoor—this small enclave of brick and Portland stone set in expansive manicured grounds (which you can visit) surrounds the Figure Court (the figure being a 1682 gilded bronze statue of Charles II dressed as a Roman general). The beautiful Wren-designed chapel (a working church) and the Great Hall (the hospital's dining room) are open to the public at certain times during the day.

There is a small museum devoted to the history of the resident "Chelsea Pensioners," but the real attraction, along with the building, is the approximately 300 pensioners themselves. Recognizable by their traditional scarlet frock coats with gold buttons, medals, and tricorne hats, they are all actual veterans, who wear the uniform, and the history it represents, with a great deal of pride. On Sunday morning (10:45) from April through November, you can see groups of pensioners in full uniform on parade in the Figure Court. Individuals can visit the chapel on Sunday between 11 and 12 for services.

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Historical Free Hospital

Quick Facts

Royal Hospital Rd.
London, Greater London  SW3 4SR, England

- 020 - 7881–5298

www.chelsea-pensioners.co.uk

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: Free

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