Royal Hospital Chelsea
|Royal Hospital Chelsea|
Figure Court of Royal Hospital Chelsea
|Hospital type||Care for retired members of the Armed Forces|
|Lists||Hospitals in England|
The Royal Hospital Chelsea is a retirement home and nursing home for some 300 retired British soldiers, located on Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea, London, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is a true hospital in the original sense of the word – that is, a place where hospitality was provided. The residents in the Royal Hospital are referred to as "in-pensioners" (or more colloquially, as Chelsea pensioners).
The first patients included those injured at the Battle of Sedgemoor. Wren expanded his original design to add two additional quadrangles to the east and west of the central court; these were known respectively as the "Light Horse Court" and the "College Court". Due to mismanagement by Lord Ranelagh, the Hospital Treasurer, the building was not completed until 1692.
Sir John Soane, who was clerk of work in the early part of the nineteenth century, designed and constructed a new infirmary building which was located to the west of the main building on the site of the current National Army Museum and destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. This was replaced by a modern infirmary which was located to the east of the main building and opened by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1961.
In 2002, the Sovereign's Mace was presented to the hospital – up until then, the hospital had had no colours or distinctive device – the Mace is now carried at all the ceremonial events at the Hospital.
In March 2009 the first women in the Hospital's 317-year history were admitted as In-Pensioners. Dorothy Hughes (aged 85) was the first, soon followed by Winifred Phillips (aged 82). Hughes had joined the British Army in 1941 aged 18, later working as part of 450 Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery in the London Division. In 1945 the Battery was deployed near Dover to defend against V1 flying bomb attacks. She retired with the rank of Sergeant. Phillips trained as a nurse and later joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1948 before enlisting in the Women's Royal Army Corps in 1949 while serving in Egypt. After 22 years service she retired with the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2.
The Royal Hospital Founder's Day takes place close to 29 May each year – the birthday of Charles II, and the date of his restoration as King in 1660. It is also known as Oak Apple Day, as it commemorates the escape of the future King following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, when he hid in the Royal Oak to avoid capture by Parliamentary forces. On Founder's Day, in-pensioners of the Royal Hospital are reviewed by a member of the British Royal Family.
The statue of King Charles II
The 7' 6" (229 cm) statue of King Charles II which stands in the central court (the Figure Court) of the Hospital was cast in copper alloy by Grinling Gibbons; it was originally gilded but was bronzed in 1787. In 2002, the statue was regilded to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee.
The Hospital's chapel was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and is a fine and rare example of Wren's pure ecclesiastical work: it rises 42 feet (13 m) high and was completed in 1687. The chapel contains a fine painting of the Resurrection in the half dome of the apse, painted by Sebastiano Ricci and his nephew Marco (who assisted with the painting at the Royal Hospital) and dates from the end of Queen Anne's reign. The Chapel was consecrated in August 1691, and services were formerly held twice daily. Nowadays services are confined to Sunday mornings.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall was also designed by Sir Christopher Wren and was originally intended as a dining hall. Just before 1800 the pensioners started dining in the wards and the hall was then used for recreational purposes. It was here that the Duke of Wellington lay in state in 1852. The hall reverted to its original use as a dining hall in 1955.
Royal Hospital Chelsea Museum
The museum features military artefacts and memorabilia that were donated by deceased in-pensioners. The displays include items associated with the Duke of Wellington, and other uniforms, medals, weapons, paintings and models.
Prominently displayed in the grounds next to the flagpole is an inscribed cannon from Singora bearing the seal of Sultan Sulaiman Shah. The cannon was made in Singora around 1623, captured from the Sultanate of Singora by the Siamese in 1680, taken from the Siamese by the Burmese in the Burmese–Siamese war of 1765–1767 and transported to Burma. In the third Anglo-Burmese War (1885–1887) the cannon was taken by the British and shipped back to England.
The Great Hall, the Chapel and the Museum as well as some of its courtyards are open to the public.
The hospital maintains a 'military-based culture which puts a premium on comradeship'. The in-pensioners are formed into four companies, each headed by a Captain of Invalids (an ex-Army officer responsible for the 'day to day welfare, management and administration' of the pensioners under his charge).
Senior staff include the Governor and Lieutenant Governor (who are retired General officers), the Secretary (director of administration), the Physician & Surgeon, the Matron, the Quartermaster, the Chaplain and the Adjutant (an ex-Army officer of at least Lieutenant-Colonel rank who acts as the Hospital's 'chief operations officer').
Since 1702 the Royal Hospital has been governed by a Board of Commissioners. The ex-officio chairman of the board is HM Paymaster General (whose predecessor Sir Stephen Fox was instrumental in founding the Hospital in the seventeenth century). The purpose of the Board is 'to guide the development of The Royal Hospital, ensuring the care and well-being of the Chelsea Pensioners who live there and safeguarding the historic buildings and grounds, which it owns in trust'.
List of governors
The following is a list of those who have served as Governor:
- Brigadier General Thomas Stanwix 1714–1720
- Lieutenant General Charles Churchill 1720–1722
- Lieutenant General William Evans 1722–1740
- Field Marshal Sir Robert Rich, 4th Baronet 1740–1768
- Field Marshal Sir George Howard KB PC 1768–1795
- Field Marshal The Marquess Townshend PC 1795–1796
- General Sir William Fawcett KCB 1796–1804
- General Sir David Dundas GCB 1804–1820
- Field Marshal Sir Samuel Hulse GCH 1820–1837
- General Sir Edward Paget GCB 1837–1849
- General Sir George Anson GCB 1849
- General Sir Colin Halkett GCB GCH 1849–1856
- Field Marshal Sir Edward Blakeney GCB GCH PC 1856–1868
- Field Marshal Sir Alexander Woodford KCB KCMG 1868–1870
- General Sir John Pennefather GCB 1870–1872
- Lt-General Sir Sydney Cotton GCB 1872–1874
- Field Marshal Sir Patrick Grant GCB GCMG 1874–1895
- Field Marshal Sir Donald Stewart, 1st Baronet GCB GCSI CIE 1895–1900
- Field Marshal Sir Henry Norman GCB GCMG CIE 1901–1904
- Field Marshal Sir George White VC GCB OM GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO 1905–1912
- General Sir Neville Lyttelton GCB GCVO PC 1912–1931
- General Sir Walter Braithwaite GCB 1931–1938
- General Sir Harry Knox KCB DSO 1938–1943
- General Sir Clive Liddell KCB CMG CBE DSO 1943–1949
- General Sir Bernard Paget GCB MC 1949–1956
- General Sir Cameron Nicholson GCB KBE DSO* MC* 1956–1961
- General Sir Frank Simpson GBE KCB DSO 1961–1969
- General Sir Charles Jones GCB CBE MC 1969–1975
- General Sir Anthony Read GCB CBE DSO MC 1975–1981
- General Sir Robert Ford GCB CBE 1981–1987
- General Sir Roland Guy GCB CBE DSO 1987–1993
- General Sir Brian Kenny GCB CBE 1993–1999
- General Sir Jeremy Mackenzie GCB OBE DL 1999–2006
- General The Lord Walker of Aldringham GCB CMG CBE DL 2006–2011
- General Sir Redmond Watt KCB KCVO CBE 2011–Present
- Chelsea Flower Show
- Royal Hospital Kilmainham (equivalent in Dublin)
- Les Invalides, the complex which houses the French equivalent of the Royal Hospital
- Institution des Invalides de la Legion Etrangere (French Foreign Legion equivalent)
- Old soldiers' home (USA)
- Guidebook, p. 3
- Whiles, John (1985). Sedgemoor 1685 (2nd ed.). Chippenham: Picton Publishing. ISBN 978-0948251009.
- Guidebook, p. 4
- Guidebook, p. 6
- "New Infirmary, Royal Hospital Chelsea. London. 2005 – 2008". QFT Architects. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "The ladies in red: Chelsea Pensioners welcome first female recruits in 300-year history". Daily Mail. 13 March 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "First Women in Scarlets". Royal Hospital Chelsea. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "Now I feel just like Cinderella at the ball". Daily Telegraph. 5 March 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "Founders Day". Royal Hospital Chelsea. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "Prince Harry's Review of the Founder's Day Parade". Metro. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "Duchess of Cornwall Reviews Founder's Day Parade".
- Guidebook, p. 9
- "Where is it? No. 38". Exploring London. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- Guidebook, p. 10
- Scrivener, R.S. (1981), "The Siamese Brass Cannon in the Figure Court of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London", Journal of the Siam Society 69: 169–170, ISSN 0857-7099
- Guidebook, p. 15
- Captain of Invalids Royal Hospital Chelsea
- Annual Report, 2011
- Corporate Information Royal Hospital Chelsea
- "Survey of London, volume 11, edited by Walter H. Godfrey (editor)". 1927. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- The London Gazette: . 31 May 1901.
- The Royal Hospital Chelsea ("the Guidebook"). Jarrold Publishing. 2002.
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