The vast kitchens served the Tudor court with hundreds of meals a day
Updated 19 December: In line with the latest government guidance, Hampton Court Palace and gardens will be closed from 20 December until further notice. Please note this also includes the ice rink and Magic Garden.
Ordering, preparing and cooking food on this scale required an efficient system, with raw food arriving at one end and finished dishes ready to be served at the other.
Henry VIII expanded and added to the kitchens at Hampton Court Palace, but they weren’t for him. The King had his own private kitchen.
Raw produce was brought into the palace through a ‘Tradesman’s’ entrance.
All goods passed under an archway into a cobbled courtyard, where they were all unloaded and checked scrupulously.
A team of accountants, known as ‘The Clerks of the Green Cloth’, kept meticulous records to ensure costs were kept under control.
Kitchen staff carried the goods into a series of smaller kitchens or to the stores.
One of the many smaller kitchens used exclusively to prepare and cook meat in the great boiling pot.
The meat then went into pies or was roasted, the boiling being used to reduce the time needed on the spit.
The pie cases were brought over to the boiling house from the pastry department.
Fish Court was a clever fridge system.
The courtyard is narrow, running north to south which means the area stays cooler, as the sun does not shine directly in.
The space is open to the air to keep the stone stores cool.
Originally this kitchen was used for roasting meat, mainly joints of beef, in front of six huge fires.
In later centuries, a range of charcoal stoves were added along with a bread oven.
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
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The kitchens produced a large amount of food and each room had a specific function. Food would be taken from larders and prepared in separate bake-houses. Meat was roasted in front of the big fires in the Great Kitchen.
Fresh water for drinking and cooking was piped into the palace from springs three miles away.
The Clerk of the Kitchens, standing at the Serving Place, would allocate dishes to various diners according to their rank
All this food was washed down at court with gallons of wine and beer.
Entertaining the court in lavish style reflected the magnificence of the monarch and 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. Water was safe to drink at the palace.
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