The Chelsea Physic Garden was founded by the Society of Apothecaries in 1673 in order to promote the study of botany in relation to medicine, then known as the “physic” or healing arts. As the second oldest botanic garden in England it still fulfils the traditional functions of scientific research and plant conservation and undertakes to educate and inform as well as to provide the amenity of a walled “secret” garden in the heart of London.
Its aims are:
to demonstrate through its plantings and publications the range of species named or introduced to cultivation by a succession of distinguished curators;
to pursue horticultural excellence, especially in the cultivation of rare and tender plants;
to demonstrate to all who visit the many uses of plants and particularly the heritage of the plant world as our common medicine chest.
In the 1700s, the famous botanist and physician Sir Hans Sloane bought the manor of Chelsea and secured the Gardens future by granting a lease on the site in perpetuity for a rent of £5 a year.
Today the Garden runs as a self-supporting charity providing both an oasis of tranquility in the capital and a centre of education and research that continues to explore the role of plants in our health and wellbeing.
The Gardens Tangerine Dream Café is well worth a visit with beautiful food to match the beauty of the gardens, arguably the best afternoon tea in London. You can also buy the book Tangerine Dream Café: A Year in Chelsea Physic Garden which combines a visual record of the garden through the year with a timeless perpetual calendar for recording special occasions and 65 recipes.
Sir Hans Sloane himself understood the therapeutic power of chocolate and brought back a recipe for hot drinking chocolate on his visit to the West Indies. More details can be found on the gardens website http://www.cheleseaphysicgarden.co.uk