A history of Philanthropy Since the hospital was founded, philanthropy has played a pivotal role in making the Royal Hospital a centre of excellence for former soldiers. Today’s donors today take their place in our long history. The King, his mistress and the Paymaster General In 1681, King Charles II issued a Royal Warrant authorising the building of the Royal Hospital and tasked the Paymaster General, Sir Stephen Fox, with finding the funds. The King granted “about £2,000 to be issued out of his more particular private money” to begin the work. This was later increased with unused money allocated to the secret service. However, even with other contributions, funds were insufficient. Fox’s solution included money saved from his earnings in a former role allocating Army salaries and deducting a day’s pay from soldiers’ salaries – a sort of contributory pension, as these soldiers would go on to benefit from the Royal Hospital. Rumour has it that King Charles’ mistress Nell Gwynn was an even earlier Benefactor, inspiring the King’s original vision for this refuge for old soldiers. In his 1795 History of London, Rev Daniel Lysons references a sign accompanying Nell’s portrait in a tavern on the Pimlico Road “with an inscription, ascribing the foundation to her desire”. The boards of Benefactors in the Great Hall list her name, but there is no evidence to back up the colourful stories of Nell’s involvement. Coals from Newcastle, Hackney carriages and education for girls In the early history of the Royal Hospital, unusual Benefactors included the City of Newcastle. In 1685, the city agreed to supply 100 wagons of coal each year, in return for the lease of their castle. In the same year, Sir Christopher Wren proposed that fees from the licensing of Hackney carriages (predecessors of today’s black cabs) should go to the Royal Hospital. London taxis still have a bond with us, providing Pensioners with free rides and taking them on outings. Just over 20 years later, early feminist Mary Astell set up a school for the daughters of Chelsea Pensioners in College Court. She provided the curriculum and funded the establishment herself. The girls formed an early Wren Chapel choir. Military memorials and trophies During the 19th century, the Royal Hospital was presented with various military trophies and flags for safekeeping. In 1841, Captain John Ford, Captain of Invalids 1840-1860, made a series of watercolour sketches of the standards and colours. After his death, Queen Victoria bought the sketches and had them bound into a book. Her Majesty then graciously presented this autographed copy to the Royal Hospital. In 1947, King George VI thought fit to return many of the trophies gathered in Victoria’s reign to their regiments, but the Flag Book, including the original packaging remains in our possession. In our grounds, an impressive military memorial commemorates members of the 24th Regiment of the Foot killed at the Battle of Chillianwala. Officers of the regiment contributed £600 (more than £76,000 today) towards its erection. At the Royal Hospital Chelsea we are incredibly grateful for gifts of any size. We define a gift of £10,000 and above as philanthropic.