Another view, with a statue of Sir Hans Sloane in the distance The statue of Sir Hans Sloane

Left: The Chelsea Physic Garden, with a statue of Sir Hans Sloane in the distance. Right: Closer view of the statue (a resin one, when this photograph was taken; since replaced by a Portland Stone one).

The Chelsea Physic Garden dates from 1676, when the Company of Apothecaries leased the land and established it for botanical specimens with medicinal properties. In 1722, the Lord of the Manor to which the land belonged, Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753) presented it to the company on condition that it continued to be used appropriately and also supply specimens to the Royal Society. Sloane himself was a physician, botanist and a great collector, indeed, his collections were of vital, foundational importance to the establishment of the British Museum and other national institutions, so he greatly valued the research into the pharmaceutical potential of a wide range of plants. The copy of his statue by Michael Rysbrack (1694-1770), shown above, was replaced by a Portland Stone one in 2014.

medicinal plants in the Chelsea Physics Garden

Medicinal plants in the Chelsea Physics Garden, London.

The garden was described in the Stranger's Guide to London, a popular guidebook for visitors to the Great Exhibition of 1851, as being "nearly square, and [covering] about two acres of ground; the southern side being bounded by the river, and northern by the main street of Chelsea, the whole being surrounded by a lofty wall" (24).

medicinal plants in the Chelsea Physics Garden

"The Physic Garden, Chelsea: men botanizing in the garden, near the statue of Sir Hans Sloane," 1750. Wood engraving by T. W. Lascelles after H. G. Glindoni, 1890. Wellcome Collection (public domain).

Note: Sir Hans Sloane's wife received a good deal of income from plantations worked by slaves, and he himself is now held in disrepute because of his involvement with, and the benefits he derived from, slavery. But at the time of writing, his statue remains in place.

Links to Related Material


"Sir Hans Sloane Statue — Chelsea Physic Garden." Simon Smith Stone Carving. Web. 13 June 2023.

The Strangers' Guide to London and Its Environs for 1851..., compiled by Hugh C. Gray. London: Elliot, Vickers, Dipple, 1851. Internet Archive, from the National Art Library. Web. 13 June 2023.

Weinreb, Ben, Christopher Hibbert, Julia Keay and John Keay. The London Encyclopaedia. Third ed. London: Macmillan, 2008.

Created 3 May 2007

Last modified 13 June 2023