Chelsea Physic Garden

The Chelsea Physic Garden is one of the oldest botanical gardens in England and a great place for a day out. Peter Gray reports.

With an enviable position besides the Thames in North London, the Chelsea Physic Garden is one of the capital’s best loved visitor attractions.

The garden specialises in the identification, collation and utilisation of plants for medicinal purposes, however its the venue’s unique atmosphere that keeps visitors coming back.

The establishment was founded by the worshipful company of Apothecaries in 1673, making the Chelsea Physic Garden one of the oldest botanic gardens in Britain. It wasn’t until Sir Hans Sloane became the Lord of the Manor of Chelsea however, that the gardens future was decided.

Sloane, who had himself trained as an apprentice at the garden in the early 1680s, was an avid collector of plant specimens and it was little surprise therefore when he decided to support the Apothecaries.

The new Lord of the Manor of Chelsea was about to make an offer that the worship company would find it hard to refuse. For the piddling sum of £5, the Apothecaries would have sole use of the plot on which the Chelsea Physic Garden stood.

The only stipulation that Sloane placed on the offer was that the garden must supply the Royal Society, of which Sloane was a member, the sum of 50 herbarium samples a year.

The Chelsea Physic Garden is perhaps best known around the world for its global seed exchange scheme. The Index Seminum, as it is known, allows seeds to be exchanged by institutions around the world, thus sponsoring diversity and collaboration. Currently over 360 botanic gardens around the globe participate in the scene with 37 different countries taking part.

Spread over four acres, their are many areas to enjoy in the Chelsea Physic Garden, including the Garden of Medicinal Plants, the Pharmaceutical Garden, the Garden of World Medicine, the Garden of Edible and Useful Plants and the World Woodland Garden.

The Chelsea Physic Garden is listed in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England under the highest classification – Grade I.

More information about the garden can be found here.

If you’d like to discover other great outdoor attractions in London, please click here.

-Outdoors London-
What: a botanical garden
Notable for:: the variety of plants
Where: Chelsea