Maldon U3A

Local and General History Group - Royal Chelsea Hospital Visit - March 2011.

Note: All meetings will be held in Maldon Town Hall.   Commencing at 2.00 pm. Price £1.50. All U3A members welcome.

For coach trips the price includes coach, entrance fee and driver gratuity. Pick up points West Maldon Community Centre and Danbury to be confirmed.

Further information from Mary Burd 01621 843020 email: and Alfred Couldrey 01245 226259

Visit to the Royal Hospital Chelsea - March 2011

We arrived at the Royal Hospital in the centre of London on a hazy spring day.   The 66 acres are a cosy peaceful place for residents and patients who have been involved with conflicts and the defence of our country.   Our guide was a spritely 77 year old inhabitant who gave us a humorous and knowledgeable tour of the site which stretches from the Kings Road to the Embankment.

It was founded by Charles II in 1682 as a retreat for veterans of the army - no longer fit for duty.   It was mainly designed by Christopher Wren with 4 late phases since.   It was damaged twice during the Second World War.   The buildings surround 3 quadrangles (a) College Court including residential (b) Figure Court used for ceremonies with its central gilded figure of Charles II by Philip Jackson and the chapel and Great Hall and (c) the Light Horse Court which includes the new Infirmary and Council Chamber.

There are enough rooms for 400 residents – 300 used at present.   These are being modernised from the 9 foot square “berth” to larger ensuite ones.   Their scarlet uniform is free and includes a daily blue pillbox hat and the famous tricorn ones for ceremonies.   They have use of a bar, dining hall, billiard room, library, arts & crafts room, allotments and bowling facilities.   About 120 pensioners act as guides, groundsmen and clerical staff.   Our guide was in the Chelsea Show garden playing his accordion!   Many of us saw the BBC programme which “Paddy” told us took 5 years to complete!

The Royal Hospital is run as a charity and continually needs funds to keep it so immaculate.   The Infirmary is in constant use and Paddy said they all have a health MOT every 4 months.   The tour ended near the museum shop and new Red Cross café – delicious!

I thoroughly recommend a trip here – open daily 10-12, 2-4 and Sundays 2-4.   Guests are welcome to their Sunday services too.

Thank you Alfred for arranging this trip.

Jane Coombes.

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