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:
Further information on the Royal Hospital Chelsea, including virtual tours of the major public buildings, can be found on their website at http://www.chelsea-pensioners.co.uk/home.asp
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 www.TraditionofLondon.com
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.