Hampton Court Palace and the Tudor kitchens, London

Warning, this post has many photos of the Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace — some of which are blurry due to lack of time, lack of light, and the need for more (and better) lenses for my SLR camera.

Hampton Court Palace, located on the outskirts of London, was originally built for Cardinal Wolsey. It first became famous for being a favourite palace of King Henry VIII, and later on was the subject of King William III and Queen Mary’s massive rebuilding and expansion project.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Visits to Hampton Court Palace are set up in a way that you can “experience” a special day in the life of Henry VIII’s life; throughout my visit, actors in full costume played out parts in Henry’s court and got everyone involved in the wedding day of Henry and Catherine Parr.

Hail Britannia!

Hail Britannia!

The palace’s Tudor-era kitchens are extensive, which was needed in order to feed the approximately 1000 people of Henry’s court. Many of the rooms have fake food in them to illustrate how the kitchens worked. This is the pie room. The pastry was used as a preservation and cooking tool, and the pastry itself was not eaten. (The soundtrack from Sweeny Todd kept running through my head as I stood in this room. 😉 )

Pie room

Pie room

On the other side of the room was a Tudor stove top/slow cooker/fireplace.

Fireplace/stove top/slow cooker

Fireplace/stove top/slow cooker

When you climbed the short staircase, you found a giant built-in pot filled with something that looked brown and goopy. Gruel? Porridge? Pie filling? Use your own imagination.

gruel

gruel

This walkway in the kitchens served as a natural refrigerator; the walls and placement blocked out the sun, but allows the cooling rain to filter into the hallway. It was quite cool all along this passage, which had doors lined all along the way that led to larders.

natural refrigerator

natural refrigerator

The end of the walkway led to a large room where herbs and veggies were prepared.

herbs and vegetables

herbs and vegetables

One of the many great fireplaces in the kitchens. Notice the giant tongs, spits and other sharp implements used to haul around hot food.

fireplace

fireplace

Mmm. Roasted peacock anyone?

prepared food

prepared food

Another fireplace and some cooking pots.

fireplace and pots

fireplace and pots

The same pots as in the above photo. Notice the many openings for stoking the fires. It makes our tiny modern four range stove tops look puny in comparison.

pots

pots

They had a fire going in one of the giant fireplaces, complete with a man decked out in fire protection gear to man it and shoo people from standing too close. You can see all the black marks from the fire; it gives you an idea of how much smoke and heat there would have been in a full running kitchen of this size. This room also had many, many giant hunks of fake meat spread out on wooden tables, but they looked so fake that I didn’t like any of the resulting photos.

fire

fire

Just one of the many bread ovens needed to feed all those people in the palace.

bread ovens

bread ovens

They recreated over 800 pewter plates, jugs, chargers, bowls, cups and eating utensils used in the palace.

recreated pewter

recreated pewter

The cellars. People in the Tudor age did not drink water due to suspicious about cleanliness, and so the wealthy drank wine and ale instead, and the not-so-wealthy had solely ale. Mead was also a popular drink.

cellars

cellars

The grand finale – King Henry VIII and his new queen Catherine Parr greet their subjects. We all had to kneel (and cheer) on the cobblestones, or off with our heads!

King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine Parr

King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine Parr

I totally underestimated the amount of time that I would need to tour Hampton Court Palace, and ended up spending the majority of my time in the Tudor kitchens, with only brief visits to the upper floors of the palace. I ended up skipping the whole William III and Mary wing altogether. I wish the souvenir shop had sold some Tudor-era cookbooks or the tea shop served some Tudor treats as it would have been a great way to cap off my visit, but alas I had to leave with just my photos and my newfound historical knowledge.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Hampton Court Palace and the Tudor kitchens, London

  1. BB!
    What a trip. School has started, as you know – and I saw the length of this post (I know, nothing compared to min) but I wanted to save time to read, sit, and savour – which I have just done. What an incredible experience. I have been to many castle kitchens in the Loire valley in France and have marvelled at what the experience must have been to cook in those incredible spaces. But, none were created to feed 1000 – so not this kind of complex. I love the larder outdoor hallway. Brilliant. And all of the other spaces. Amazing. Just to work in such a kitchen would be gruelling and gratifying all at once. I had no idea that pastry was not eaten in those days… but then again, lard was used as make up back then.
    Thanks for the history lesson and sharing this trip. Very enjoyable!!!!
    🙂
    Valerie

    • I save your posts to read when I have large chunks of time too. 😉

      I spent so much time in those kitchens because I listened to every single kitchen fact they had on the audio tour! Otherwise I probably could have zipped through there in 15 minutes.

  2. fireside feasts says:

    For additional information, specifically about the kitchens at Hampton Court, I highly recommend that you purchase the Palace’s own booklet, “The Taste of the Fire.” It contains some great Tudor-era receipts (recipes) that you can try at home. Also, as it points out, they DID drink the water, saying that fear of drinking it was unnecessary at Court because, “water was piped in from springs three miles away on Coombe Hill,” stored in basins near the springs, and then piped to Hampton. Even so, yes, much beer, ale, cider, perry, and other drinks were surely served. The pastry that wasn’t eaten refers to the paste or crust in which a meat and/or fruit concoction was baked. This “coffin,” as it was called, served as a pie pan or pot for the dish (for it to be baked in). Anyway, I’ll stop now. But there’s lots more info in the booklet and other works. Love such sites. Love England. HUZZAH!

    • Hmm I didn’t see that book in the gift shop, cause I would have definitely bought it! The water info I put in my post was me repeating what was said on the audio guided tour.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s