As part of a project running from now until January 2020 the Royal Hospital will explore new methods of opening up its Grade One listed, 66-acre site to a broader spectrum of visitors and maximise the heritage credentials of its historic grounds.

Royal Hospital Chelsea
Royal Hospital Chelsea's Figure Court © Royal Hospital Chelsea

While many visitors currently head to the site for architectural contributions by Sir Christopher Wren and Sir John Soane, footfall to the grounds never reached parity with this.

The Royal Hospital points to its wide variety of plants, trees and wildlife as offering great opportunities to attract visitors. As yet, however, a way of ensuring audiences beyond Chelsea Pensioners and school children know about this element of its offering has remained elusive.

The Hospital is, therefore, conducting in-depth research into current and prospective audiences, establishing family learning trails and how best to support biodiversity and eco-tourism.

Making historical facts and horticultural information readily accessible has been deemed key to this endeavour, with the possibility of introducing an interactive app and digital guestbook currently under consideration.

Royal Hospital Chelsea
Several of the Hospital's iconic Chelsea Pensioners highlight National Lottery Heritage Fund support © Royal Hospital Chelsea

“Our ultimate goal is to not just be a leader in Army veteran care, but also a recognised natural heritage site,” noted Kate Ainley-Marr, head of audience engagement at the Royal Hospital.

“We want to reach out to members of the public and community groups who could benefit from the use of our natural heritage. Not enough is known about our current users of the Hospital grounds, their public value and their potential to enhance the wellbeing of our visitors and residents.”

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