Next door to Kew Palace, the Georgian royal kitchen remains miraculously preserved, 200 years after it was last used.
The Royal Kitchens evoke life on the 6 February 1789, when George III was given back his knife and fork, after his first episode of ‘madness’.
The visitor’s first experience is the little kitchen garden to the rear, with neat vegetable beds laid out between gravel paths, and fruit trees climbing the walls. In fact, the real kitchen gardens were enormous and stood alongside the Kew Road, but this gives a flavour of what the Georgian kitchen gardens were like.
Inside, you’ll see the four preparation rooms where the bread was baked, the fish and meat stored, vegetables washed, and the lead-lined sink where the scullery boys would spend hours scouring pots and pans with sand and soap.
The great kitchen
The great kitchen is the most impressive room in the building. Opening the original 18th century split door, the double-height room space is revealed, complete with its roasting range, charcoal grill and pastry oven. A projection of the dishes, and hands preparing them is projected onto the huge kitchen table surfaces.
A ghostly dresser, complete with equipment will appear on the wall, with the long-dead cooks and scullions passing to and fro.
Upstairs, the kitchens were ruled over by the Clerk, who had day-to-day responsibility for feeding the enormous Royal Household. His office has been furnished to the way we think it looked in February 1789, when the king was recovering from his first illness. Nearby, the waft of spices will drift from the dry larder or spice cupboard, which is kept locked. When opened with a special key, a treasure house of expensive items; sugar, cinnamon, wine and other luxuries we take for granted today, will be revealed.
A new play, written for Hampton Court Palace by Sarah Dickenson and directed by Jo McInnes.
Daytime: Thu to Mon until 21 Aug 2017. Evening: 28, 29, 31 Aug & 1 Sep 2017
Daytime 11.00 & 14.45. Evening 19.30