Chelsea Physic Garden
- Outside the city
What you'll do
Chelsea Physic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in London and boasts a collection of more than 5,000 different plants.
Enjoy access to Chelsea Physic Garden with The London Pass®
- Pay nothing at the door - simply show your pass.
- See over 5,000 species of edible, medicinal, herbal and useful plants at this world-renowned garden.
- Take a stroll through the numerous wonderfully maintained areas of the garden, including the rockery, glasshouses, order beds and medicinal garden.
- Stop off in the popular onsite cafe for a spot of breakfast, brunch or lunch.
- Learn the history of the storied garden and its importance in the fields of plant and seed exchange, education and botanical illustration.
The longest established botanic garden in London, Chelsea Physic Garden dates back to 1673 and today houses over 5,000 different edible, medicinal, herbal, and useful plants. Situated on a four-acre plot by the Thames River, the garden’s microclimate allows it to grow many plants not often found outside in the UK.
Chelsea Physic Garden history
Chelsea Physic Garden was initially established in 1673 by The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. Conducting research into plants which might cure and those that might kill, the society required a site within close proximity to the River Thames, so they could make the most of the river’s warm air currents. Allowing access to the river for expeditions, with a south facing aspect and good quality soil, the Chelsea site was ideal for the society.
The world renown of Chelsea Physic Garden developed throughout the 17th Century with the establishment of the Index Seminum, the global seed exchange system created by the garden. Initially founded following a visit from Dutch botanist Paul Hermann in 1682, the seed exchange program continues to the present day. Another key organisational feature of the garden is the Florilegium Society. Focusing on botanical illustration for both scientific and artistic purposes, the society have helped develop the practice across the UK and abroad.
Today, Chelsea Physic Garden still possesses a strong voice in British and international horticulture and botany. In more recent years, it has developed as a visitor attraction, establishing itself as one of the most cherished and visited gardens in the city, and a real paradise of escape, hidden away in Chelsea.
Chelsea Physic Garden highlights
- Admire the many individual environments, each carefully sculpted and cared for, and home to contrasting plants from across the planet.
- Take a look in the historic glasshouses to see a number of plants from the Americas and Pacific Islands, including many rarely seen in the UK.
- Learn about plants that possess healing properties, those which you might not have known were edible, those which you might not have known aren’t, and many more which have distinct uses for humans.
Chelsea Physic Garden facts
- Founded in 1673, Chelsea Physic Garden is the oldest botanical garden in the city. It’s nearly 100 years older than famous Kew Gardens, entry to which is also included with The London Pass®.
- First World War poet Wilfred Owen spent one of his final days in England visiting Chelsea Physic Garden.
- Chelsea Physic Garden is home to the country’s largest fruiting olive tree. In 1976, it yielded a record crop of 7lb of ripe olives.
The historic glasshouses of Chelsea Physic Garden are a fascinating environment to explore. Many of the plants here are native to the Americas, including a wide mix of ferns and cacao plants. There’s also a great set of plants from the Atlantic islands, rarely seen in the UK.
Chelsea Physic Garden puts on a wide range of special events throughout the year. These include the popular Christmas Fair, a number of entertaining and educational workshops, and family open days. Some, but not all, of these special events are included with The London Pass®. Check the official website for details of upcoming events and to prebook.
Know before you go
Getting in: show your London pass at the door for entry.
- The opening times of Chelsea Physic Garden change seasonally, with earlier closing times during the winter months. The garden is closed throughout much of January, reopening with their much-loved snowdrop season towards the end of the month.
- The garden closes in the lead up to particular events, such as the Christmas Fair, as staff members and volunteers need time to arrange the garden.
For more information on opening times and dates for Chelsea Physic Garden, check the official website.
Where you'll be
Swan Walk, London, GB
Monday - Friday & Sunday: 11AM - 4PM (last admission 3:30PM)
Closings & holidays
14 December - 25 January
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