New course explores the rich history of royal food and feasting … and it’s free to join!

New course explores the rich history of royal food and feasting … and it’s free to join!

16 June 2016

From the elaborate banquets of Henry VIII to the frugality of George III, chart the history of royal food in a new free online course, as Historic Royal Palaces teams up with the University of Reading to create A History of Royal Food and Feasting

5 week course launches 20 June 2016

Did you know that Henry VIII ordered the first apricot trees to be planted in England because he couldn’t get enough of them? Or that chocolate was first introduced to England by Charles II to compete with the French court? If the answer’s no, then a new online course - devised by Historic Royal Palaces in partnership with the University of Reading - promises to liven up dinner party conversations and transform you into a budding food historian, with the certificate to prove it!

Join expert historians, curators and even Heston Blumenthal for A History of Royal Food and Feasting, a specially created Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which charts the rich history of royal cuisine, as told through the tastes of five monarchs; Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, George I, George III, and Queen Victoria. Over five weeks, you’ll discover the changing palates of successive generations of royals, and experience the splendour of the palaces they called home. From Henry VIII’s Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace, to the rooms specially designed for the preparation of chocolate, the course offers the chance to go behind the scenes of some of the greatest palaces ever built, while uncovering the secrets of royal cookery.

Using historic artefacts, documentary evidence and modern science to bring the past vividly to life, A History of Royal Food and Feasting examines the flavour, nutritional value and medicinal benefits of royal food past and present, and investigates which era enjoyed the healthiest and tastiest diet. Better yet, each week there’ll be a cooking challenge to try at home, which everything from Tudor pies to afternoon tea and even prison food on the menu. Along the way, well-known experts such as Professor Kate Williams and food historian Marc Meltonville will share riveting tales of food fit for a king, and challenge some common misconceptions about the impact of monarchs from the past on dietary tastes today.

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Notes to editors

Launching on 20 June via FutureLearn, A History of Royal Food and Feasting is aimed at anyone with an interest in history, food and food science, and doesn’t require any prior knowledge. The course - which runs for five weeks in real time - requires around three hours a week of personal study. Downloadable certificates of achievement are available for those who complete the module.

Following its launch, the course will remain available online and free to join at any time.

For more information and images, please contact Adam Budhram in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office: 0203 166 6307.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information, visit

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