Posted: Feb 18, 2014
Posted by: Admin
Earlier this year, members of the Women’s Section Military Wives and Girlfriend’s Group, with husbands and daughters, met to go on a tour of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Debbie Gore, a member of the MWAG’s kindly sent us a report on the day.
The day began with lunch at the Infirmary Café, where Members and husbands made use of the rare opportunity to get to know each-other. Members of the Women’s Section MWAG’s are not usually located in one area but are spread all over the world, as far as Kenya and Cyprus.
After lunch we met our guide, Michael Allen, an ex-Royal Military Policeman and now an “in-pensioner” at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Michael joined the army at the age of 14 and served for for four years as a Royal Engineer before transferring to the Royal Military Police. He was an excellent and entertaining guide with an extensive knowledge of the hospital’s history.
We learnt of current events and traditions at the hospital, such as the Chelsea Flower Show. A tour of the Pensioner’s dining hall proved a spectacular sight as it was adorned with chandeliers, paintings, ceiling art and engravings of Britain’s fought wars. We were informed that the hall was actually considered as a venue for the Harry Potter films.
We were then taken around the Wren Chapel, designed by Christopher Wren. The chapel has traditional wooden pews lining the walls and beautiful ceiling art. During the visit, we were impressed to see an artist at the back of the chapel painting a canvas of the altar.
The tour culminated, with a trip to the museum and hospital shop, both staffed by in-pensioners, where we all splashed out on souvenirs: the funds of which go to the hospital.
I do not want to retell the many stories that we were told on the visit as it would spoil it for those who would like to go to the Royal Hospital Chelsea themselves. I for one would love to go back to learn more and see it in a different season. As Michael, our tour guide, is a "Twitterer" I am now following him and the Royal Hospital Chelsea on Twitter. This means I am kept up-to-date with news and events, which is extremely helpful when deciding on a good time to visit. I can not recommend it enough!
Debbie Gore, Member of Women's Section Military Wives and Girlfriend's Group