The July event of The Pakistan Society saw twelve members making a visit to the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
The Royal Hospital was founded in 1682 by King Charles II and intended for the "succour and relief of veterans broken by age and war", the Royal Hospital, with its Grade 1 listed buildings, still serves its original purpose and intends to continue to further its role well into the 21st Century.
It was a beautiful evening and we saw the establishment with its well preserved buildings, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and stunning grounds in all their glory. We were hosted by Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Archie MacKenzie MBE, one of the Captains of Invalids, and our guide was In Pensioner Paddy Fox. Mr Fox was a mine of information about the establishment and, in addition to his huge knowledge of its history and operation, had many "unofficial" tales to tell, which kept our members well amused throughout the tour. There was time to visit many of the parts of the Hospital, including the Chapel, the Great Hall and one of the "long wards". The visit ended with a brief talk by our own Ian McLeod on the Chillianwala Obelisk, which gave a unique link between Pakistan and The Royal Hospital. The Battle of Chillianwala, in 1849, was part of The Second Sikh War, which ended Sikh rule in the area and brought what is now the Northern part of Pakistan under the British. The graves of the 255 men named on the obelisk can still be seen in the Punjab, not far from the banks of the Jhelum River.
A brief visit to the Pensionerís Club for refreshments further impressed us of the warm hospitality of this unique establishment and saw the end to a memorable event.