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Discover Edible Plants, Gin & Chocolate at Chelsea Physic Garden

by | May 5, 2015

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

Chelsea Physic Garden is just a short walk from Sloane Square tube and the shops on the King’s Road. This historically significant and tranquil walled garden is the oldest botanical garden in London.

Chelsea Physic Garden

Wander around Chelsea Physic Garden and enjoy lunch in the Tangerine Dream Cafe

Chelsea Physic Garden is an oasis of calm tucked away beside the River Thames.

With its fascinating history, edible garden and excellent Tangerine Dream café, this is a little gem for Foodie Travellers particularly those with a penchant for chocolate history (and gin).

The Foodie Travel Guide

The Chelsea Physic Garden

Behind an inconspicuous wooden door, you’ll find this enchanting 4-acre walled garden. Founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries for its apprentices to study the medicinal qualities of plants, it became one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world.

Give Thanks to Sir Hans Sloane

Proudly overseeing the garden, you’ll find a statue of Sir Hans Sloane, an early benefactor. It’s thanks to him that the recipe for milk chocolate came to Britain. He brought it back from Jamaica where he’d worked as the physician to the Island Governor. It was there he saw chocolate being given to young children as a medicinal drink. Mixed with water, the taste was so unpalatable to him, he added milk instead. On his return, his recipe was sold to an apothecary and later, used by Cadbury’s when they starting making chocolate.

Hans Sloane Display Chelsea Physic Garden

Sir Hans Sloane was an early benefactor

Explore the Edible Garden

You’ll find individual beds dedicated to edible oils, forest fruits, vegetables and alcohol. Make the connection between the tipples you enjoy and the plants used to flavour them. Discover that wormwood is used to flavour vermouth; the flowering tops of heather to make heather ale; and that hops, the cone-shaped female flowers used to flavour and preserve beer, also have young shoots that can be eaten as a vegetable. At chef Tom Kerridge’s pub, the Hand & Flowers in Marlow, he’s likes to poach chicken in a hop stock.

Discover the Garden’s Connection With Beefeater Gin

Visitors on the Beefeater Gin Distillery Tour will know that James Burrough, its founder, studied here. To celebrate his special connection with the garden, the company recently distilled a new gin variety known as Garden Gin. In 2015, Desmond Payne, the Master Distiller at Beefeater Gin came to the garden to give a talk on ‘The History of Gin in London’.

Terrace Tangerine Dream Cafe Chelsea

Tangerine Dream Cafe

Eat Lunch in The Tangerine Dream Café

The coiffed ladies of Chelsea will want to keep this a secret but, after a wander around the garden, lunch in the garden’s Tangerine Dream Café is a delight. If it’s a sunny day, sit outside at one of the wooden tables. Serving fresh seasonal produce with a good choice of wine, tuck in to dishes such as salmon en croute or goat’s cheese and gruyère quiche.

  • The Physic Garden gift shop stocks stylish garden accessories, books and jars of the garden’s own honey
  • There’s an active programme of workshops and talks. For example, Chantal Coady, founder of Rococco Chocolate, gave a talk on how to ‘Become Your Own Chocolate Expert’.
  • If you buy annual RHS Membership, you gain free entry into the Physic Garden at specified times
  • Next door to the garden is Gordon Ramsay’s flagship Chelsea restaurant (booking essential)
  • Visit the Natural History Museum and you’ll see the cocoa specimen brought back from Jamaica by Sir Hans Sloane

Dog Policy Mr Hendricks says, “Chelsea Physic Garden tell me that only Guide Dogs are permitted to visit the garden”.

How to Find Chelsea Physic Garden

Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 4HS

Chelsea Physic Garden

Tangerine Dream Cafe


The Foodie Travel Guide

The Foodie Travel Guide

Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures. 

Chelsea Physic Garden Entrance - Save Money With a London Pass

  • Entrance to over 80 top London attractions
  • Includes entrance to Chelsea Physic Garden
  • Great value for money
  • Beat the queues
  • Hop-on, hop-off bus

RHS Membership

  • One year’s RHS Gift membership – Perfect for one or two people
  • Entrance to the four RHS Gardens and over 200 partner gardens
  • Includes entrance to Chelsea Physic Garden
  • Special discounts and offers, RHS bag and a complimentary £5 voucher

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