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The March event is a guided walking tour of the Royal Hospital led by a resident Chelsea Pensioner.  You will see Sir Christopher Wren’s stunning buildings, hear the captivating stories of the inhabitants – both past and present – and learn what life is like for today’s veterans at the Royal Hospital.

Until the 17th Century the state made no specific provision for old and injured soldiers.  Care for the poor and sick was provided by the religious foundations.  Most of this provision ended following the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of King Henry VIII.  In 1681, responding to the need to look after these soldiers, King Charles II issued a Royal Warrant authorising the building of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to care for those ‘broken by age or war’. 

Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to design and erect the building.  His design is based on the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris.  The original building was intended to house 412 veteran soldiers and their officers and comprised a single quadrangle, known as Figure Court.  However, before work had begun it was realised that the buildings would be insufficient and Wren added two further quadrangles to his design.  In 1686, construction was approved and building commenced.  The early funding was made from deductions from army pay, with occasional funding from other sources.  In 1692 work was finally completed and the first group of 99 Chelsea Pensioners was admitted in February 1692 and by the end of March the full complement of 476 were in residence.

The tour will commence from the Chelsea Gate of the Royal Hospital at 1.30pm and lasts 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes for the Museum and Shop.  We will then have a delicious full afternoon tea with cakes, a scone with clotted cream and preserve, and a selection of cocktail sandwiches with tea or coffee

The cost of the Tour is £16.00 for members and £17.00 for non-members and tea is £13.75 per person inclusive of service.  Please note there is a limit of 30 people for the tour and applications must be received by 17 February.