Chocolate fit for a king

Chocolate, an expensive luxury drink, was made and prepared here

Chocolate, an expensive luxury drink, was made and prepared here

The Chocolate Kitchen at Hampton Court Palace was a small but specialised series of rooms used by royally-appointed chocolate makers to prepare this expensive delicacy for kings and queens.

Queen Mary II, by Sir Peter Lely.  National Portrait Gallery.

Royal chocolate

The Chocolate Kitchens were built by Christopher Wren in about 1690 as part of William III's (1689-1702) and Queen Mary II's (1689-94) rebuilding of Hampton Court Palace. At the time, chocolate was relatively new in England and an expensive luxury. Its inclusion in the new part of the palace demonstrated the wealth, power and modernity of William's and Mary’s court.

The King and Queen would usually take their chocolate as a drink at breakfast time. It was often served in the bedroom and served as part of a ritual known as the levee, where the king or queen would get dressed ceremoniously in front of a special chosen few. William, however, was especially fond of chocolate and would drink it throughout the day, often accompanied by his close friend and courtier, the Duke of Portland.

Image: Queen Mary II, by Sir Peter Lely, c1677. © National Portrait Gallery

Some equipment and cocoa nibs that would have been seen and used in the Georgian period.

Who were the chocolate makers?

William III employed a chocolate maker called Solomon de le Faya. George I’s chocolate maker was Thomas Tosier, who started working for the King in 1717. He ran a chocolate house on Chocolate Row in Greenwich, south east London. His wife Grace managed and expanded the business while Thomas worked at court. It was very popular and often mentioned in the social pages of newspapers. Grace even installed a ‘Great Room’ in 1721, just for dancing!

Image: Once roasted, the husks of the cocoa beans were removed and the nibs, seen here, were ground by hand into a smooth paste, a process that took hours.

The Tosier legacy

The Tosier name was clearly important, as even after Thomas died and Grace remarried she remained a Tosier. It appears that Grace was quite a flamboyant character, known for wearing a ‘large brimmed hat’ and ‘flowers in her bosom’.

Grace was so popular that the fashionable painter Bartholomew Dandridge painted her portrait in 1729. Today you can see this original print hanging above the fireplace in the Chocolate Room.

Did you know?

Grace Tosier's portrait became a collectable print and she was considered a Georgian celebrity.

Chocolate Kitchen demonstration set-up with chocolate pot and various ingredients including cocoa beans and chillies.

Hot chocolate!

In the Chocolate Kitchen, you can see all the equipment and examples of the ingredients and different flavourings used to make this delicious royal drink. These included red chillies, for those at court who liked the extra heat!

Chocolate fit for a king

Until the 1800s, chocolate was mainly served as a drink. At Hampton Court Palace, having a special kitchen ensured that it was made for the court from bean to cup.

The cacao nuts were roasted, flavoured, and the nibs were ground on a hot stone slab called a metate to form a paste. The paste was then formed into blocks known as cakes. These were then left to mature for several months. 

The cakes were then melted into milk, water or wine, which was sweetened with sugar and flavoured with spices. All of this hot, messy process took place in the Chocolate Kitchen. 

The drink was then taken into the Chocolate Room, a secure space, where the gilded chocolate pots and expensive porcelain cups were stored. It was then poured into the serving items and taken directly to the king or queen. 

Chocolate 'cakes'

Transforming cocoa beans into readily usable chocolate  was a fundamental activity of the Royal Chocolate Kitchen during the Georgian period. There the cocoa beans underwent a laborious process, which turned them into the chocolate cakes, 'cakes' in this case meaning 'pieces'. These delicious discs were stored for months on wax paper, as seen here.

The lost Chocolate Kitchen

The Chocolate Kitchen had been mentioned in many documents but its location remained a mystery. Then in 2013, one of our curators discovered an 18th-century inventory of the palace, pinpointing the location of this rare royal kitchen in Fountain Court.

The 18th-century fixtures and fittings of the Chocolate Kitchen survive – visible is the Georgian fireplace and smoke jack within the chimney, a pair of charcoal braziers, plus a folding table, cupboard and shelves.

Hidden treat

Until very recently, the Chocolate Kitchen was used as a flower store, filled with shelves, pots and vases. However, previously it had been a working kitchen that served the grace and favour apartments above.

Thankfully, the 18th-century fixtures and fittings all survive – you can see a Georgian fireplace and smoke jack within the chimney, a pair of charcoal braziers, plus a folding table, cupboard and shelves. 

The Chocolate Room

Just down the cloister from the Chocolate Kitchen, next to Chocolate Court, is the Chocolate Room. As with many parts of the palace, this too was recently a store that would have been used by residents of the neighbouring grace and favour apartments.

Our helpful 18th-century inventory is quiet on the use of this room, but we know from work records that the King’s Chocolate Room was next to Chocolate Court.

Today, you can see replicas of the porcelain, delftware cups and the silver chocolate pots, and serving equipment.

Did you know?

The Chocolate Room held the beautiful serving equipment used to present chocolate to the monarch.

Sweet survival

The Chocolate Kitchen is the only surviving kitchen of this kind in Britain. After careful studies, the Chocolate Kitchen was opened to the public in February 2014, with a display that retells the story of chocolate made for George I by his own personal chocolate maker Thomas Tosier.  

A chocolate tart photographed in the chocolate kitchen at Hampton Court
Things to see

Explore the Chocolate Kitchens of Hampton Court Palace, which have been painstakingly restored after almost 300 years.


Hampton Court Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

The King's Great Bedchamber, looking north. 

Objects seen include the state bed (1716) carved by Richard Roberts (active 1714-29), "Purchase of the Field of Ephron" wall tapestry attributed to Pieter Coeck van Aelst (1502-50) (on the right of the image), also showing part of the ceiling painting (c1701) by Antonio Verrio (c. 1639-1707).
Things to see

Enjoy the beautiful State Apartments and private rooms of William III and Mary II at Hampton Court Palace as part of your visit.


Hampton Court Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Visitors explore Henry VIII's Kitchens after re-interpretation in 2018.
Things to see

Transport yourself back to the heyday of Tudor feasting and entertainment in Henry VIII's Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace.


Hampton Court Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Food and drink category

Shop Food & Drink

Feast your eyes on our wonderful selection of food inspired by our royal kitchen. Shop chocolates, preserves, jam, chocolate coins and the finest liqueurs.

From £3.99

Selection of plates and cutlery on a blanket

Shop picnicware

Enjoy fine dining outdoors with our magnificent picnic hampers. Discover our luxury hampers and exquisite picnic blankets.

From £19.99

A selection of products from Royal Palace collection
Royal Palace fine bone china dessert plate 30142978.  Royal Palace luxury ceramic bauble 30169631. Royal Palace fine bone china tea for two gift set 30162646 comprising of two cups and saucers and tea strainer, Royal Palace china tea po

Shop afternoon tea gifts and accessories

Exclusive English fine bone chine tea sets inspired by our historic royal palaces. Collect our traditional Palace china afternoon tea sets, with designs including elements from all our royal palaces.

From £10.00