Untrustworthy tradition has it that Nell Gwynne induced Charles II. to begin building this vast structure; but, however this may be, a start was certainly made with it in that monarch's reign by Wren. It stands on the site of a famous college, is on the north bank of the Thames, not far from Chelsea Bridge, and was completed during the reign of William and Mary. The Hospital serves as a refuge for veteran invalid soldiers. Within its wall 540 pensioners are sheltered, and some 85,000 others receive outdoor help from its resources. The inmates, as here depicted, wear a characteristic dress. Portions of the institution and the gardens are open to the public; and in the gardens is an obelisk which perpetuates the memory of officers and men who perished in the Indian campaigns.
source: The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896