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This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Chelsea Pensioners

As soon as Marilyn had left her bags at the Heathrow Hotel we made our way into London. As she is a keen lover of Art Deco our first stop was the Ritz in Piccadilly. I took her into the Palm Court where afternoon tea was taking place. Sitting at the side enjoying his tea was Gerry Palmer, a Chelsea Pensioner. I hadn't met Gerry before but I do know that the Chelsea pensioners like to chat so it wasn't long before we were entertained by stories of his life.

A Chelsea pensioner refers to a retired member of the British army who now lives at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The Royal Hospital was founded in1682 by King Charles II to provide soldiers with a home in their retirement. If a retired soldier wishes to be considered for a place in the Royal Hospital he must  fulfil certain criteria such as
* having been a soldier or non-commissioned officer in the British Army
* be in receipt of an Army or War Disability pension
* be 65 years of age or older
* not have a spouse, partner or family to support
(Women have only  become residents at  the Royal Hospital since 2009).

Gerry's wife died in 2011 so he then applied for a place in the Hospital. He is now in his eighties and enjoys the life of the Chelsea Pensioner. He was at the Ritz as two pensioners are invited each week to have afternoon tea there as a bit of a treat.

The Pensioners can come and go as they please from the Royal Hospital and can wear civilian clothing. However around the Hospital and surrounding area they are expected to wear a blue uniform. When they travel further afield they are supposed to wear their scarlet uniform. The special three cornered hat is worn for ceremonial occasions.



  1. Wow! very posh taking tea at the Ritz ... I've walked past there a few times. How nice to meet Gerry and doesn't he look classy in that crimson uniform. A very special day indeed.

  2. How interesting it was to learn about about the Chelsea Pensioners. It reminds me, do they still have accommodation for, well who were they? They lived in Her Majesty's properties as 'grace and favour' tenants.

  3. Your pensioners are very well cared for. We don't have such a special place for former pensioners soldiers. Nice story.

  4. That was a really interesting read. Thanks for sharing.Have a great weekend!


  5. I love all that red, and the picture of you is really good!

  6. Great blog - we couldn't have put it better ourselves.

    Laura Card
    Royal Hospital Chelsea

  7. Wow---bet you enjoyed talking to Gerry. I'll bet the Chelsea pensioners have many, many stories to tell. That is so interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Interesting ! I never heard of such a place here in Belgium.

  9. The requirements make a lot of sense! Great that they have a place to go in their retirement.

  10. Lovely tale! Both the idea of afternoon tea at the Ritz, and the special retirement home for Vets! :o)

  11. Most enjoyable read and photo.

  12. Nice story. Its the sort of institution that would be abused for political ends in other countries - but seems just to go along on in the UK - or that could be the rose tinted view of an ex-pat!!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS: I thought all the Woolworth's shops were gone?? Or is the one in the picture empty!


  13. Quite a fascinating story. It sounds very British.

  14. Great time for pensioners.

  15. Wow! Who would have thought being a pensioner could be so much fun?!?!


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