National Geographic : 1972 Jan
SCARLET COATS and initialed caps identify these medal-bedecked British Army veterans as Royal Hospital pensioners. Here they congregate in the central courtyard of the old-soldiers' home, which Sir Christopher Wren-architect of London's St. Paul's Cathedral designed for King Charles.II in 1682. More than 400 men live in the building, Chelsea's unchallenged architectural masterpiece. In the club room of the hospital, pensioners (opposite) swap memories and small talk over mugs of their favorite brew. property. There the young Princess Elizabeth, one day to be the great Queen Elizabeth I, lived as a young girl. Of the Henry VIII era, when Chelsea was the "Village of Palaces," little remains but Chelsea Old Church, and much of that is a rebuilding, for a parachute mine in World War II leveled the old bell tower (page 48). Ninety percent of the monuments survived, however, among them the tomb of the More family, and, in the churchyard, the tomb of Sir Hans Sloane. Of the More tomb, Vicar C. E. Leighton Thomson said, "Sir Thomas built it for his first wife in 1532, hoping to be buried here, but whether his body was buried here after his beheading we don't know." The whereabouts of More's head is more certain, and I made a pilgrimage to Canter bury to pay my respects to it. There under the floor of the flint-knapped Church of St.