Fodor's Expert Review Royal Hospital Chelsea

Chelsea Historical

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 surrounds the Figure Court (the figure being a 1682 gilded bronze statue of Charles II dressed as a Roman general). The Figure Court, the Great Hall (the hospital's dining room), the beautiful Wren-designed chapel, and a small museum devoted to the history of the resident "Chelsea Pensioners" are open to the public via 90-minute guided tours that take place twice a day and must be booked in advance.

The real attraction, along with the building, is the approximately 300 pensioners themselves. Recognizable by their traditional scarlet frock coats with gold buttons, medals,... 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 surrounds the Figure Court (the figure being a 1682 gilded bronze statue of Charles II dressed as a Roman general). The Figure Court, the Great Hall (the hospital's dining room), the beautiful Wren-designed chapel, and a small museum devoted to the history of the resident "Chelsea Pensioners" are open to the public via 90-minute guided tours that take place twice a day and must be booked in advance.

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 mornings at 10:45 am from April through November, you can see groups of pensioners in full uniform on parade in the Figure Court. Individuals can also visit the chapel on Sunday between 11 and 12 for services.

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Historical Hospital

Quick Facts

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

020-7881–5200-general information

www.chelsea-pensioners.co.uk

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: Tours £15, church service free, No tours Dec. and June

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