Thursday, 31 May 2018

London History Day: When courage retires

This afternoon Sue and I will be visiting the Royal Hospital Chelsea to attend a special talk and to see a number of exhibits that tell the stories of some of the Chelsea Pensioners.

The event has been organised by the Royal Hospital Chelsea Heritage Department as part of London History Day, and is in several parts:
  • Before they fade: A talk by author and illustrator Robin Ollington in which he will recount stories of courage as told by Chelsea Pensioners for the short biographical series of the same name.
  • Courageous women of the Royal Hospital Chelsea: An exhibit that will cover the stories of the women in the British Army from those who served clandestinely as men (e.g. Hannah Snell, Christian Cavanaugh) to the arrival of the first female Chelsea Pensioners.
  • Semper audax (You can’t teach an old dog new tricks): A short video that will explore some of the 'adrenaline fuelled antics' of the modern Chelsea Pensioners.
  • Great War Portraits: A photographic record created by Keith Collman ( of veterans he has met on trips to the battlefields, during visits to their homes, and at reunions. The photographs will be accompanied by biographies of the subjects.
It sounds as if it will be an interesting way to spend a few hours, especially as we will be given access to parts of the Royal Hospital that are not normally visited by the public.


  1. Sounds like a fascinating day!

    Best Regards,


    1. Heinz-Ulrich von Boffka (Stokes),

      It certainly was! We had a great introduction given by a Pensioner, followed by a very interesting talk by a historian who has interviewed over forty Pensioners about their experiences. We were then given a conducted tour of the Chapel and the Dining Hall. In addition we visited the photograph exhibition and saw a video about some of the adventurous exploits of modern Pensioners.

      On our way out we had a walk through the Hospital's graveyard ... where we found the place where the ashes of Lady Thatcher (the former A Prime Minister) and her husband - Sir Denis Thatcher Bt. - are buried.

      It was a very interesting day out.

      All the best,



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