Hampton Court Palace: The Chocolate Kitchen

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Fountain Court

During my recent visit to Hampton Court Palace I paid a quick visit to their Chocolate Kitchens. They were originally built for William III and Mary II towards the end of the seventeenth century when the Palace was re-designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the Baroque style. However, they were not in full use until the Georgian era. Thomas Tosier was the chocolate chef for Kings George I and George II. He was tasked with making and then bringing the King a luxurious cup of hot chocolate each morning.

Drinking chocolate in the eighteenth century was an expression of your status. The ingredients to make chocolate; cacao, sugar and spices were expensive and needed to be imported into the country, therefore it was a drink for the rich.

The kitchens fell out of use during the reign of George II as the King no longer wanted to reside in Hampton Court and centred his court at Kensington Palace. Similarly, George III, who was sovereign from 1760, did not enjoy Hampton Court Palace and it was never used as a royal residence again.

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The Chocolate Kitchens were hidden until 2013, when one of the curators located them while reading an eighteenth century inventory. Opened in February 2014, they are the only royal chocolate kitchens in the country. All the original fixtures and fittings survive. I was lucky enough to sample the chocolate made from an eighteenth century recipe during the period I volunteered at Hampton Court, which directly coincided with the opening of the Chocolate Kitchens. It was thick and very rich and totally different to modern hot chocolate.

The Chocolate Room, like the kitchen, was previously used as a storeroom. It can be found in the cloisters surrounding Fountain Court. During the eighteenth century you would find the elaborate dishes made from china, delftware, silver and glass that would be used to serve the king chocolate and other delicacies, such as confectionary known as ‘sweetmeats’. Historians believe that the corridors surrounding the Chocolate Kitchens would have been filled with the sound of people working in other privy kitchens and filled with the aromas of roasting cacao beans and flavourings such as aniseed, chilli and sugar to make chocolate fit for a king.

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Stairs heading towards the apartments between the Chocolate Kitchen and Chocolate Room

Experts at Historic Royal Palaces recreated the Chocolate Kitchens using documentary evidence and the help of traditional craftspeople to ensure the authenticity of their display. It is dressed quite sparsely, much like the kitchens at Kew Palace, with projected scenes imagining life in the kitchen during Thomas Tosier’s tenure.

Images author’s own

Sources:
Hampton Court Palace
https://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/explore/chocolate-kitchens/

 

17 thoughts on “Hampton Court Palace: The Chocolate Kitchen

  1. wow, that means I am going to have to get the family to take me back to hampton court to see the chocolate kitchens now, its amazing when they discover new things that have been hidden all these years, nice piece

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – they’re quite small (2 rooms really) but they have used many of the rooms off Fountain Court and it is surprising that they are still finding things out. But maybe that’s because of the grave and favour apartments almost preserving history in some areas of the Palace.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. yes it is surprising they are still finding things there after all this time, I wondered why I didn’t see them when we visited, then I realise it was before they found these rooms. A visit is called for, maybe when it is warmer tho

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Definitely when warmer – last year my husband and I went to the BBC Food festival there on a hot bank holiday Monday! Actually avoided the Palace and had a lovely time with all the food stuff and the entertainment. Definitely something we want to do again. I think the cost of the Palace was included in the ticket. It’s worth checking out when they have events on. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I was a volunteer visitor guide for about 3-4 months – I’d spent the season at Kew Palace and continued at HCP when Kew closed. But then my studies got in the way so I had to prioritise my course work.
      I think it just fell out of fashion with successive monarchs. The early Georgian kings lived there but by George III it fell out of use as he didn’t like it and he ruled for 60 years. It was old and let the cold in and more up-to-date properties in central London (and Brighton for George IV) were better suited. Windsor Castle always remained a favourite 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kew was just perfect! There are lots of interesting stories – the royal double wedding (Queen Victoria’s parents and William IV), George III being imprisoned there during one of his spells of ‘madness’, the present Queen had her 80th birthday party for the royal family there and Queen Charlotte died there 200 years ago this November.

        Liked by 1 person

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