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Once a peaceful riverside village, now a popular location for the wealthy and often described as "a village of Palaces"

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Sloane Square
Kings Road
Royal Hospital
Physic Garden
Cheyne Walk
Albert Bridge
Worlds End
Chelsea FC
Chelsea was once a peaceful riverside village, always a popular location for the wealthy, and once described as "a village of palaces". Chelsea has been fashionable since Tudor times and many famous poets and artists made this area their home, attracted by the riverside views. Chelsea is too expensive for most artists now, but it still maintains its artistic connection, shown by its many galleries and antique shops.
Until 1829 the Kings Road was a private royal road leading from Hampton Court to the Palace at Westminster, and only those with a Kings’ pass could use it. The Kings Road today is a busy artery, packed with fashion shops full with young people looking for designer items.
At the top of the Kings Road is Sloane Square, named after Sir Hans Sloane, a wealthy physician and collector around 1700. He unwittingly gave the name Sloane Ranger to a typical young upper-class lady living in Chelsea, dressed in green Wellingtons, pearls, gathered skirt and quilted jacket!

Shopping along the Kings Road
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In 1681 Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned by Charles II to build a hospital as a retirement home for old and wounded soldiers. The Royal Hospital opened 10 years later and is still home to over 300 retired soldiers, known as Chelsea Pensioners, whose distinctive uniforms of red tunics and black hats, date from the 17th century.

Chelsea Pensioners
Photo Sheynhertz-Unbayg

Did You Know?

Royal Avenue is the grand entrance to the Royal Hospital from the Kings Road. The gravelled boulevard, now lined with houses is the fictional home of Ian Fleming’s secret agent James Bond 007.

The Royal Hospital
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The highlights of the building are the Grand Hall and Chapel, designed in an English baroque style. A small museum explains the history of the pensioners and a statue of Charles II stands on the terrace.

The chapel in the Royal Hospital
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The Grand Hall in the Royal Hospital
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The Royal Hospital hosts the Chelsea Flower Show every May; first held in 1862. The Royal Horticultural Society Show is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Nearby, the Chelsea Physic Garden, founded in 1767 for the study of medicinal plants, is the second oldest botanic garden in England after Oxford. The garden’s pharmaceutical section displays plants according to their medical use, while the world medicine section details the use of specific plants in different parts of the world.

Lupins at the Chelsea Flower Show
Photo Wolfiewolf

Did You Know?

Chelsea Physic Garden has the oldest rock gardens in Britain, dating back to 1771 and it is made from salvaged building stone from the Tower of London. The garden also nurtured cotton sent to the plantations of the southern United States.
The word Chelsea means “a landing place on the river for chalk or limestone” and the River Thames here was not embanked until 1874. You can see a glimpse of picturesque old London along Cheyne Walk, where grand houses would have fronted the river when they were built. Many of the fine 18th century properties have been and still are, occupied by a host of famous people including the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Cheyne Walk
Photo halighalie

Cheyne Walk leads to the Albert Bridge, completed in 1873. It the most elegant of the Thames bridges, especially at night
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The Swinging Sixties brought the King's Road to fame as both Beatles and Rolling Stones members lived here at one time. In the 1970s the King's Road saw the birth of the punk movement when Malcolm Mclaren opened a rock boutique, with the band The Sex Pistols launched from the shop in 1975. The shop still exists and has a large clock outside that runs very fast backwards.

World's End on the King's Road, the home of punk
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A short walk from World's End you will come to the home of Chelsea FC at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have won the English Championship, FA Cup and League Cup many times. They have also been successful in Europe, winning the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. The Stamford Bridge ground as been home to Chelsea since they were founded in 1905. The ground holds just over 41,000 and his also home to the Centenary Museum and Megastore.

Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea FC
Photo Jason Bagley
Visitor Information
Take the tube to Sloane Square and start your tour by walking down the Kings Road. The Royal Hospital is open to visitors daily 10am to noon and 2pm to 4pm. Entry is FREE. The Chelsea flower show is held in May. The Chelsea FC Museum and Stadium is open 11am to 4 pm on non-match days, entry around £5.

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