The Waterloo Association: Members Area

Get Involved:

Facebook Twitter Email


The War of 1812 Magazine

Issue 8: February 2008

Documents, Artefacts and Imagery

Reproduction American Colours in the Great Hall at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

By John R. Grodzinski

The scarlet-coated Chelsea pensioner is a familiar site in London. Following the English Civil War, Charles II issued a Royal Warrant in 1681 establishing the Royal Hospital at Chelsea as a home intended “for succour and relief of veterans broken by age and war.”

The buildings of the Royal Hospital was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and incorporate a complex of beautiful buildings originally designed to house 412 veterans and their officers. The grounds include the Light Horse Court, Figure Court and College Court and a large park.

Within the central building and nearby to the Chapel is the Great Hall, which currently serves as the Dining Room, but was also the site of the 1809 Court of Inquiry of the Convention of Cintra and where the Duke of Wellington lay in state in 1852.

Along the walls of the Great Hall are replicas (the original are in the museum) of a number of colours captured by the British Army during various wars. Among them are a number taken during the War of 1812, including:

New York Regiment, taken at Queenston Heights, 13 October 1812
2nd Regiment of Infantry, taken at Fort Bayo, 1815
4th Regiment of Infantry Regimental Colour, taken at Fort Detroit, August 1812
4th Regiment of Infantry National Colour, taken at Fort Detroit, August 1812

Further information on the Royal Hospital Chelsea, including virtual tours of the major public buildings, can be found on their website at

Other literature on American Colours at Chelsea:

Barry, F.W. “Captured Flags in the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.” Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research Vol VII, (1928), p. 110 – 117.

Carman, W.Y. “American Regimental Colours in Chelsea Hospital,” Tradition Magazine, No. 53, (c1970), p. 13-15. Available at

Malcomson, Robert. “War of 1812 Flags at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea,” Military Collector & Historian, Vol 58, No. 2 (Summer 2006), p. 58 – 65.

All photographs are from the author's collection.

Entrance: Two panels greet the visitor at the entranceway to the Great Hall. Each indicates the origin of the colours along each wall. This panel shows colours from Spain, the Netherlands and the four of the colours taken during the War of 1812 (Author’s collection).


Four Colours: A view looking into the Great Hall, showing the American colours from the New York Militia, the 2nd Regiment of Infantry, the 4th Regiment of Infantry Regimental Colour, and the 4th Regiment of Infantry National Colour
4th Infantry: A close up view of the reproduction of the 4th Infantry Regimental Colour