For much of British History, there was little in the way of official healthcare. The monasteries, which had provided healing services for centuries, were shut down by Henry VIII. Charles II, however, would construct an all-new facility to care for injured veterans. In 1681 he issued a royal warrant to build the Royals Chelsea Hospital. The hospital housed and cared for wounded veterans. Based on similar projects in France like the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris, Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, designed the church. Construction finished in 1692, and it admitted its first patients that year. By the end of that March, it provided 476 veterans with somewhere they could be looked after. It also coordinated care to pensioners all over the UK. The image below is inspired by a pensioner based in Prestonpans, Scotland, during the 1700s.

Artist: Alan Braby

A chelsea pensioner getting his leg inspected by a doctor

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Credit: Alan Braby and Open Past

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