Henry VIII's Kitchens are being upgraded and re-decorated - there may be some disruptions in this area. More information
Transport yourself back to a heyday of royal cooking and entertainment.
Between their construction in 1530 and the royal family’s last visit to the palace in 1737, the kitchens were a central part of palace life. For many visitors, Hampton Court Palace symbolises Henry VIII and his abiding reputation as a ‘consumer of food and women’.
Henry VIII's Kitchens at Hampton Court were the largest of Tudor England and were designed to cater for around 400 people twice daily. This was a vast operation, larger than any modern hotel, and one that had to cope without modern conveniences.
On occasion, the kitchens are still used today by our team of cooks to prepare authentic Tudor recipes.
The kitchens were divided into a number of departments, each controlled by a Sergeant and a team of yeoman and grooms. The Kitchen department where meat was roasted was under the control of three Master Cooks, one for the King, the Queen and the rest of the Court. These staff toiled under a complex set of rules determining which of the 1,200-odd members of Henry’s court qualified for meals as part of their pay.
In one year, towards the end of the sixteenth century, the provision of meat for the whole Tudor court stood at 1,240 oxen, 8,200 sheep, 2,330 deer, 760 calves, 1,870 pigs and 53 wild boar, all washed down with 600,000 gallons of beer.
Working in the kitchens could be a sweaty and dirty job. Henry VIII had to order the scullions to stop going about ‘naked, or in garments of such vileness as they do now, nor lie in the nights and days in the kitchen or ground by the fireside’.
A Spanish visitor to the Tudor court in 1554 said the kitchens were ‘veritable hells, such is the stir and bustle in them... there is plenty of beer here, and they drink more than would fill the Valladolid river.'
Henry VIII’s kitchens continued to be used for a further two hundred years, feeding the tables of Tudor, Stuart and Georgian monarchs and their many courtiers.
In more recent times, the Kitchens have been brought back to life by our team of historic cookery experts. In peak season, they will interpret history where it happened with demonstrations of Tudor roasting and experimentation with recipes, ingredients and methods, they provide the experience of the sights, sounds and smells of life in King Henry VIII’s kitchens.
Lunch led with a special guest expert at the Orangery at Kensington Palace.
23 November, 07 and 21 December 2017
Starting at 12:00
Join Siobhan Clarke at the Banqueting Hall for an exclusive tour of this revolutionary building.
09 February - 10 February 2018
Starting promptly in the Undercroft at 10:30 and 12:00