Tudor Kitchens of England

Dan and I were lucky enough to visit England for two weeks and naturally our itinerary revolved around museums and food. A number of house museums we visited had immense kitchens or the Great Hall set up for a feast. Here’s a look at what we discovered.

During our London week we went to Hampton Court Palace.  Home of Henry VIII and various wives (after he was given the palace by its owner Cardinal Wolsey in a vain attempt by the Cardinal to save his head), the Palace was every Tudor lovers delight. Yes, half the palace is from a later period when King William and Queen Mary lived there, but we chose to immerse ourselves into the Tudor world.      

The Tudor kitchens are larger than our house which makes sense when you needed to feed 600 plus members of court and their servants twice a day. Since we were visiting in late September, sadly, there were no costumed interpreters cooking. But they did have a blazing fire going in the immense fireplaces for roasting meats.

Here’s a look at the typical meal output for the cooks at Hampton Court Palace  (taken from the Hampton Court website)

“The kitchens had a number of Master Cooks, each with a team of Yeomen and Sergeants working for them.

Tudor meatsThe annual provision of meat for the Tudor court stood at 1,240 oxen, 8,200 sheep, 2,330 deer, 760 calves, 1,870 pigs and 53 wild boar.

This was all washed down with 600,000 gallons of beer.”

One thing that was apparent. Whoever was in charge of the kitchen would have been a great manager!
There were many rooms given over to the kitchen complex. Here’s one portion for the butcher. Tudor diets for the elite was heavily meat based with little or no vegetables. Vegetables were peasant food and so were not eaten by those of more means. The meat they did eat was also highly salted for preservation.

One of many rooms for the butchers

Sweets in the Tudor court were also greatly loved – especially by Henry himself. Here’s a link to an informative British TV show on Henry’s health. Most people now believe that Henry died from complications of diabetes. The TV show is a fascinating look at Tudor foodways.  Enjoy!

The Great Hall with the table for the King and whoever was Queen at the moment

A row of "burners" that mimic a stove-top

One Response to “Tudor Kitchens of England”

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  1. Bev Duell-Moore says:

    Ummmm! Nice to see back Aunt Lil! Maybe they had several managers. I would think that it would have almost impossible to manage that many people in those days. I sure wouldn’t want the job! It must have been an interesting place to see.

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