The Royal Hospital Chelsea is one of London’s best kept secrets. Founded by King Charles II and designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the magnificent site has been the home of the Chelsea Pensioners since 1692.
The iconic scarlet-uniformed residents are all retired soldiers of the British Army, many of whom have served in World War II, Korea, the Falkland Islands, Cyprus or Northern Ireland. Others may not have served in campaigns, but all understand what it means to serve their country and the potential sacrifice that it entails.
In recognition of their loyal service to the Nation, the Royal Hospital provides the Chelsea Pensioners with a home, comradeship and the highest standards of care during their advanced years, ensuring they are not isolated or alone. In this way it’s a true hospital in the original sense of the word, in that it is a place of hospitality.
For the second year running, the Royal Hospital is going to be opened up for a special series of concerts called Live at Chelsea. Taking place in the 17th century courtyard known as ‘Figure Court’, due to the central statue of King Charles II, audiences will be treated to very special performances in a truly unique and historic setting.
A portion of the ticket sale proceeds will go towards funding the care of the Chelsea Pensioners, as well as the ongoing maintenance of the Grade I listed site.
To find out how you can further support the Chelsea Pensioners, our Nation’s veterans, click on the link below.
Will I be able to walk round the Hospital?
No – the hospital has pensioners in residence and their private areas will be out of bounds. Concert goers are permitted access to the concert auditorium and the designated food and drink gardens. Exceptions to this are guests who have hospitality tickets for specific areas of the Hospital building.
How many residents currently live here?
There are approximately 300 residents.
How do you become a Chelsea Pensioner?
You have to be a former soldier of the British Army (officers are only allowed to join if they have first served in the ranks), be aged 65 or over, be of ‘good character’ and have no dependent family members.
Do residents have to pay to live here?
On being admitted to live at the Royal Hospital Chelsea they must either surrender their military pension and any War Disability Pension they may have, and / or make a financial contribution dependent on their means.
How is the Royal Hospital Chelsea funded?
The Royal Hospital Chelsea gets the majority of its funding from a grant-in-aid from the government, but needs to make up a shortfall every year to provide the best home and care for the Chelsea Pensioners, and maintain its Grade I listed site.