As part of the Baroque building, the Chocolate Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace were built for William III and Mary II around 1689, but mainly served the Georgian kings. George I even had his own personal chocolate maker, Thomas Tosier.
After falling out of use, the Chocolate Kitchen lay hidden for years.
Re-discovering the Chocolate Kitchens
The Chocolate Kitchen had been mentioned in many documents but its location remained a mystery until 2013 when one of our curators discovered an 18th-century inventory of the palace pinpointing its location. They were re-opened in February 2014, and are the only royal chocolate kitchens in Britain and a remarkable discovery.
Until it's discovery, the space was used as a flower store filled with shelves, pots and vases, but previously, it was a 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 Kitchen was where chocolate was processed from the beans into a chocolate drink. Chocolate was considered a great Georgian luxury, with only the most fashionable drinking the rich, dark delight.
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 and would have been used by 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. This room held the beautiful serving equipment used to present chocolate to the king. It includes china and delftware cups with silver chocolate frames, chocolate pots, and molinets.
'Sweetmeats' or items of confectionery were regularly served with chocolate and would have been placed on delicate glass serving dishes.
The transformation of the Chocolate Room
The transformation into the decorated Chocolate Room has been the careful and considered work of a team of Historic Royal Palaces experts and skilled craftspeople. They painstakingly recreated all of the serving equipment from archaeological and documentary research with the help of traditional craftspeople.
The same materials and methods as Georgian predecessors were used to recreate the objects with historical accuracy.
Told through the eyes of a courtier, this fascinating book explores the ambitious and talented people who flocked to the Georgian court in search of power and prestige.