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Henry VIII’s Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace

Henry VIII's Kitchens - Hampton Court Palace

Henry VIII’s Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace

As soon as Henry VIII took ownership of Hampton Court Palace in 1528, the King began rebuilding and expansion to accommodate the King’s court which consisted of over one thousand people. Although the King owned over sixty houses and palaces, few of these were large enough to hold the assembled court, and thus one of the first building works to transform Hampton Court to a principal residence was to build the vast kitchens.

Henry VIII's Kitchens - Hampton Court Palace

The kitchens were quadrupled in size, enabling the King to provide meals for his entire court. The architecture of King Henry’s new palace followed the existing design of perpendicular Gothic-inspired Tudor with Renaissance ornament.

Henry VIII's Kitchens - Hampton Court Palace

Successive Royals including Queen Elizabeth I used these kitchens. The quantities of meat procured for the Court in one year during Elizabeth I’s reign included:

  • Sheep – 8,200
  • Deer – 2,330
  • Pigs – 1,870
  • Oxen – 1,240
  • Calves – 760
  • Wild boar – 53

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace which is located upstream of central London on the River Thames. The palace building project began in 1515 with Cardinal Thomas Wolsey as the owner. However, in 1529, Wolsey fell from favour, and King Henry VIII seized the palace for himself.  Henry VIII enlarged the palace complex to cater to his large royal court. Today you can walk in King Henry VIII’s and his many wives’ footsteps.

“…to wish myself in my sweetheart’s arms,
whose pretty ducks [breasts],
I trust shortly to kiss.”
– King Henry VIII’s  love letter to Anne Boleyn

In the following century, King William III rebuilt and expanded Hampton Court Palace, which destroyed much of the Tudor palace, the King intended to build a palace to rival Versailles. Fortunately for us, the project ceased in 1694, leaving the palace in two distinct contrasting architectural styles, domestic Tudor and Baroque.

King George II was the last monarch to live in the palace, and today, the palace is open to the public and displays many works of art from the Royal Collection. The Place complex includes extensive gardens, a maze, a historic tennis court and a vast grapevine.

Explore Hampton Court Palace

Henry VIII’s Kitchens

  • Name:               Henry VIII’s Kitchens
  • Dates:               1529
  • Historic Site:    Hampton Court Palace

Reflections

  • What is Henry VIII most remembered for?
  • What did Henry VIII do that was important?

Explore London’s Museums and Heritage Sites

Explore Hampton Court Palace

  • Henry VIII’s Great Hall
    • Henry VIII’s Great Hall is spanned by a large and sumptuously decorated hammer-beam roof, and its walls are hung with Henry VIII’s highest praised tapestries, The Story of Abraham. The Great Hall was built between 1532 and 1535 making it the last medieval great hall built for the English monarchy. So impatient was the King for the completion of this Hall that the masons were compelled to work throughout the night by candlelight to complete the project.
  • King’s Beasts
    • Ten statues of heraldic animals called the King’s Beasts, stand on the bridge over the moat leading to the great gatehouse. These statues represent the ancestry of King Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour.
  • Henry VIII’s Kitchens
    • As soon as Henry VIII took ownership of Hampton Court Palace in 1528, the King began rebuilding and expansion to accommodate the King’s court which consisted of over one thousand people. Although the King owned over sixty houses and palaces, few of these were large enough to hold the assembled court, and thus one of the first building works to transform Hampton Court to a principal residence was to build the vast kitchens.
  • Henry VIII’s Wine Cellar
    • Tudor court meals were lavish affairs that all the sumptuous food was washed down with gallons of wine and beer. Court entertaining was provided in lavish style to reflect the magnificence of the monarch, and King Henry kept his cellars well stocked. Barrels of wine were sent from Europe and kept in cellars next to the kitchens, while beer was stored close to the Great Hall.
  • Hampton Court Palace, Tradesman’s Entrance
    • Food produce was brought into the palace through a ‘Tradesman’s’ entrance, where all goods passed under an archway into a cobbled courtyard. Here they were all unloaded and checked carefully. A team of accountants, known as ‘The Clerks of the Green Cloth’, kept detailed records to make sure costs were correct. Kitchen staff carried all the food products into a series of smaller kitchens or to the stores.
  • Hampton Court Astronomical Clock
    • The Hampton Court astronomical clock is a sixteenth-century astronomical clock with unique mechanisms and dials to display astronomical information, such as the relative positions of the sun, moon, zodiacal constellations, and sometimes major planets. Installed in 1540 on the gatehouse to the inner court at Hampton Court Palace. This clock is pre-Copernican, and a pre-Galilean astronomical clock and is still functioning.
  • The Fountain Court
    • In 1689, shortly after Louis XIV’s court had moved permanently to Versailles, William III and his wife, Mary II embarked on a massive rebuilding project at Hampton Court. The intention was to demolish the Tudor palace a section at a time while replacing it with a vast modern Palace in the Baroque style.
  • Christopher Wren’s South Front
    • Christopher Wren’s south front as viewed from the Privy Garden was built for William and Mary. Sir Christopher Wren, was asked to design a new vast Palace at a time when it was difficult for any sovereign to visualise a palace that did not emulate Versailles’ Baroque forms. Hampton Court however unlike Versailles, is different with its contrast between the pink brick and the pale Portland stone quoins, frames and banding. Further differences include the circular and decorated windows of the second-floor mezzanine.
  • The Chocolate Room
    • The Chocolate Room is where Thomas Tosier, chocolate maker to George I (1714 – 1727) and George II (1727 – 1760), made the final touches to the King’s chocolate drink. The room was used to store the valuable serving equipment such as gold and silver Chocolate pots and the Chocolate drinking porcelain sets. The Chocolate Kitchens were built by Christopher Wren in 1690 as part of William III’s and Queen Mary II’s rebuilding of Hampton Court Palace. Chocolate was relatively new in England, and its inclusion in the new part of the palace demonstrated the modernity of William’s and Mary’s court.

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“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”
– Charles Dickens

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Photo Credit: JOM

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