03.04.2015
13:19

Royal Hospital Chelsea

Address:

Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, SW3 4SR

Phone:

020-7881 5493

Website:

www.chelsea-pensioners.org.uk

Opening times:

Independent Visits – Monday - Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM (Groups of 10 or less)
Guided Tours - Monday-Friday at 10:00 AM & 1:30 PM (must be booked min. 4 weeks in advance)
*Great Hall is closed between 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM every day for Chelsea Pensioner meals*

How to get there:

Tube: Sloane Square

Entry fee:

Independent visits - Free Guided tours – £10pp (up to 20 people); £8pp (up to 15 people)

Additional information:

Shop

Founded by Charles II in 1682 for invalided and elderly soldiers, the Royal Hospital, Chelsea appears much as it did in the 17th century. Sir Christopher Wren’s magnificent building dominates Royal Hospital Road, with its elegant central Doric portico, surmounted by a small tower and cupola, with ranges of red brick to east and west. Here around 420 Chelsea Pensioners still have lodgings, and the governing routines of the Hospital are little changed since its foundation. The 1961 Infirmary to the east is due to be replaced with a building by Quinlan Terry.

As you stand in the central Octagon Porch, to the east is the Chapel, with fine oak carving, its apse filled by the Resurrection, an unexpected splash of Baroque verve, painted by Sebastiano Ricci in 1716 (the oil sketch for the work is at Dulwich Picture Gallery). To the west is the magnificent Hall, where the Pensioners eat. The west wall is filled with a mural by Antonio Verrio, an equestrian portrait of Charles II in the centre, the king surrounded by marine deities, the Royal Hospital in the background. Recently restored, it was started in 1687, Verrio being assisted by the artist Henry Cooke. Straight ahead from the Octagon Porch is Figure Court, a wide, magnificent courtyard enclosed by ranges to either side, the north range with a handsome open colonnade. In the centre is Grinling Gibbons’s statue of Charles II, a classical image of Imperial authority, recently regilded and dazzling in the sun. Presented to Charles II by Tobias Rustat and placed here in 1685, every Founder’s Day (Oak Apple Day, 29 May, Charles II’s birthday and the day which celebrated his Restoration to the throne) it is wreathed with oak leaves. The south end is open, with a vista over the beautiful Hospital grounds to the river. Originally laid out as water gardens, the gateways retain their original Jean Tijou wrought ironwork.

In the range to the west of the main Hospital buildings is the small Museum, refurbished in 2001. A model of the Hospital shows it c. 1745, with, adjoining the Hospital gardens to the west, the famous Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens with its celebrated Rotunda (Canaletto’s view of the inside of the Rotunda is at the National Gallery). Pictures include George Jones’s Battle of Waterloo, and a full-length of the Duke of Wellington by John Simpson. There is a mock-up of a pensioner’s ‘berth’, the 9ft-square panelled living accommodation (a 1990s improvement on Wren’s original 6ft-square spaces) ranged in succession down the Long Wards; examples of the Chelsea Pensioners’ distinctive uniforms, bright scarlet coats for summer, dark blue for winter; and a display of military service medals bequeathed by Pensioners over the years.

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Gravatar: MuseumMuseum
17.04.2015
11:16
Update from Royal Hospital Chelsea

Founded by King Charles II in 1681 for invalided and elderly soldiers, the Royal Hospital Chelsea appears much as it did in the 17th century. Sir Christopher Wren’s magnificent building dominates Royal Hospital Road, with its elegant central Doric portico, surmounted by a small tower and cupola, with ranges of red brick to east and west. Here around 300 Chelsea Pensioners still have lodgings, and the governing routines of the Royal Hospital are little changed since its foundation.

As you stand in the central Octagon Porch, to the east is the Wren Chapel, with fine oak carving, its apse filled by the Resurrection, an unexpected splash of Baroque verve, painted by Sebastiano Ricci in 1716 (the oil sketch for the work is at Dulwich Picture Gallery). To the west is the magnificent Great Hall, where the Chelsea Pensioners eat. The west wall is filled with a mural by Antonio Verrio, an equestrian portrait of Charles II in the centre, the king surrounded by marine deities, the Royal Hospital in the background. It was started in 1687, Verrio being assisted by the artist Henry Cooke. Straight ahead from the Octagon Porch is Figure Court, a wide, magnificent courtyard enclosed by ranges to either side, the north range with a handsome open colonnade. In the centre is Grinling Gibbons’s statue of Charles II, a classical image of Imperial authority, recently regilded and dazzling in the sun. Presented to Charles II by Tobias Rustat and placed here in 1685, every Founder’s Day (held as close as possible to Oak Apple Day, 29 May, Charles II’s birthday and the day which celebrated his Restoration to the throne) it is wreathed with oak leaves. The south end is open, with a vista over the beautiful Royal Hospital grounds to the river. Originally laid out as water gardens, the gateways retain their original Jean Tijou wrought ironwork.

In the range to the west of the main Royal Hospital buildings is the small Museum, refurbished in 2001. A model of the Hospital shows it c. 1745, with, adjoining the Hospital gardens to the west, the famous Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens with its celebrated Rotunda (Canaletto’s view of the inside of the Rotunda is at the National Gallery). Pictures include George Jones’s Battle of Waterloo, and a full-length of the Duke of Wellington by John Simpson. There is a mock-up of the old style of a Chelsea Pensioner’s ‘berth’, the 9ft-square panelled living accommodation (the berths have now all been modernised so that Chelsea Pensioners have their own bedroom, bathroom, study and window) ranged in succession down the Long Wards; examples of the Chelsea Pensioners’ distinctive uniforms, bright scarlet coats for formal occasions, dark blue for casual wear, and a display of military service medals bequeathed by Pensioners over the years.

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MUSEUMS & GALLERIES OF LONDON

Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

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