What's cooking at Hampton Court Palace?

It’s no surprise that Henry VIII was a fan of his food; with a sprawling kitchen in Hampton Court Palace, he made sure that he and his guests were served the finest meals at his fancy. Setting an example, it seemed that the kitchens were used even up until Elizabeth I’s reign, who was accustomed to dining on such things as oxen, wild boar and deer. From the recent discovery of the 18th century chocolate kitchen, it’s clear there was a lot of extravagance in terms of culinary experiments in Hampton Court Palace. So we decided to take a look back in time at the kitchens of this royal residence and explore the eating habits of the kings and queens of British history.

  • The Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace not only fed King Henry VIII and his family, but they also continued to be the royal court kitchens for a further two hundred years, serving the tables of Tudor, Stuart and Georgian monarchs and their courtiers.
  • The kitchens are located on the north side of the palace, where it is cooler and the optimum temperature for cooking
  • Over the last few years, Hampton Court Palace kitchens have been home to an interesting research project run by Historia food archaeologists, who have been experimenting with traditional recipes, ingredients and cooking methods to prepare authentic 16th century food
  • The palace had a spicery which was filled with exotic Oriental and European spices but the Office of Spicery was responsible for processing the huge amounts of fruits that were grown in the vast orchards
  • The royal chocolate making kitchen once catered for Kings William III, George I and George II and is the only surviving royal chocolate kitchen in the country. Recent research uncovered the royal chocolate kitchen in the Baroque Palace’s Fountain Court, and having been used as a storeroom for many years, it is remarkably well preserved with many of the original fittings, including the stove, equipment and furniture still intact
  • The palace had three cellars; a wine cellar which held 300 casks for courtiers; the wine for the royals was kept in the privy cellar; and under lock and key, ale was stored in the great cellar which was protected by two guards as well. Did you know around 600,000 gallons of ale was drunk on a yearly basis at the court?
  • Meat eating was a favourite past time at the Royal Court as it was a demonstration of wealth. Most people would have boiled their meat, or had it preserved while the rich and royals could burn their (costly!) fuel in an open fire and have the means to hire a spit boy to turn the meat all day long...

Find out more on a Hampton Court Palace tour included free with the London Pass and use our interactive infographic to learn about the history of this iconic palace. There's so much to be discovered...

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