The Royal Hospital Chelsea - Work experience

From the 29th October - 1st November, CLC girls Catie, Maya, Casey and myself, attended work experience at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Having become orientated with our surroundings on the first day, we proceeded to spend the rest of our time digitising, cataloguing and adding to the database photos of the Christmas celebrations at the hospital. These include the Cheese ceremony, the Pudding ceremony and the Cake ceremony. All the events happen annually and have particular significance for the Hospital, dating back many centuries.

The Cheese ceremony is one of the first Christmas celebrations and is when 300 pounds of cheese is donated to the Hospital by the National Dairy Council. The cheese given is from all over the United Kingdom and there is enough for one pound of cheese per pensioner. Ale and Guinness are also provided for the Pensioners, to enjoy along with the cheese. The Pudding ceremony is when an enormous Christmas Pudding is made with all the ingredients added and stirred by the Pensioners. This falls after the Cheese ceremony and is the penultimate major Christmas celebration.

Finally, the Cake ceremony is when a cake is given to the Pensioners from each state in Australia. Australian dignitaries are present along with some British politicians, so it is a very exciting occasion. The cakes given vary in size and decadence but are all beautifully decorated, with each cake corresponding with the Australian state which provided it!

The work experience was extremely enjoyable with all of us completing our assigned tasks promptly. We have found out a lot about the history of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, as well as about the running of an archive. We have gained a valuable insight into a key part of museums and have throughly enjoyed the work experience.

Many of us would love to go back and repeat the experience. We would like to say a huge thank you to John Rochester, David and Tom Lyle, and Martin Cawthorne for making this experience possible.

Olivia (SFC1)