Sorry for the delay in posting this. I have had big problems with my laptop ever since I updated the software…grrrrrr. Remember the days when you would sit and watch a pic upload line by line ? Well that’s what I’m dealing with at the moment. What should take just a few moments is taking most of the afternoon because I get frustrated and walk away. It’s either that or throw the thing to the dogs. Anyway back to one of my favorite places or should I say Palaces?
On this visit I spent most of my time exploring the largest kitchens of Tudor England. The enormity of them is incredible. Built aprox 1530 to feed up to 600 members of court twice a day and up to 200 staff, it continued through the Stuart and Georgian times but Henry rarely ate food prepared in Wolsey’s Great Kitchen. He had his own Privy Kitchen below his rooms where he had greater flexibility over his mealtimes. I have taken photos with people in the way on purpose to give you a sense of the size of these fireplaces. At Hampton Court they have a fully operational open fire cooking real meat and the heat that comes off the fire is huge.
The history cook below was roasting chicken, which in Henry VIII’s time was worth a lot of money on account that to kill a chicken you are potentially robbing yourself of a long supply of eggs and offspring. The sound and the smell was mouth watering bringing the whole kitchen to life. Notice the goblet in his hand. It was hot and thirsty work. Seven boys were employed to turn the meat and were given extra servings of ale to help keep them cool. It was here in Wolsey’s great roasting kitchen that the meat was prepared, jointed and put onto spits over the great fires. Fires that burnt up to 6-8 tonnes of seasoned dry oak every day. The art of roasting was in the patient turning of the spit. Turning it slowly so as the hottest part of the meat is exposed at the top of the spit. As it cooks the juices rise and are drawn out to the outer side of the meat, it cooks a little bit and as it is exposed to the cooler side and the cold draft of air hitting the meat the juices are then drawn back in again keeping the meat succulent and full of flavor, not dripping off into the drip tray below.
This area to the side of the kitchen is where all the boiling, frying, poaching etc was done. These burners are a bit like the top of a stove as well as a bbq. The fuel underneath consisted of wood and charcoal in a pit. As the fire burns and uses up the charcoal it then falls into another pit next to it so it doesn’t choke up like a modern bbq does. A skilled cook , by controlling the amount of fuel he placed on the fire, was able to create really delicate dishes as well as heavy meals. The history cooks have even been able to boil a gallon of water in 12mins, quicker than a modern electric kettle!
In the Great Watching Tower and the Great Hall the food was served in large dishes called ‘messes’. These were large enough to feed four people.
These examples of pastries below were made by the dozen but the interesting thing is that the pastry wasn’t eaten. It was simply the vessel in which to hold the food. It was broken open and the meat and vegetable were eaten and the pastry discarded.
Everything was done according to status or rank and was governed by a set of rules laid down in the Household Ordinances. The Lord Chamberlain was entitled to sixteen dishes served in two courses. Of course he could not possibly eat all of this and only parts of the dishes were eaten, also ,it was considered uncharitable to finish all of one’s food. The leftover food was collected into a dish called the ‘voider’ and passed onto those of lesser rank and eventually the servants who were entitled to four dishes. Even the leftovers from these dishes were collected and passed onto the beggars who waited at the gates of the palace.
The photo below shows where most of the supplies where kept. In small cold rooms. It is the Tudor version of a modern day fridge. The alley is narrow so as not to allow to much daylight but kept cool and damp. Each room had a different use, including fish, game, meat and grains.
I then went into the Chapel Royal where Henry VIII would worship, where a letter was left on his seat accusing his then Queen Ann Boleyn of adultery, where Henry VIII and Queen Jane Seymour’s son Edward was born and baptized and where Queen Jane later died and laid in state for three weeks. No photos are allowed in the Chapel so click on the link if you are interested to see it’s beauty. and go to Architecture.
It was then time to explore the garden….WOW…!!!!! Cardinal Wolsey didn’t do anything by halves. Below is the entrance I came out from and the next photo is what you see as you emerge from the Palace.
It went for miles. The surrounding parks were once stocked with deer for hunting. The deer in Home Park, Bushy Park and Richmond Park today are the descendants introduced by Henry VIII into the Royal Parks of Windsor Forrest.
But how clever is this…???? Want a close up ?? scroll down.
I wonder if he really smelt that nice?
Soon it was time to go if I was to get the 3 o’clock train and I wanted to find the Albion pub that I knew was nearby. Just a five minute walk from Hampton Court Palace heading towards the station I crossed the road and spotted the pub sign from the top of Bridge Road and look what was right beside it……….OMG …I could not believe it. I went in and had a lovely 30mins and came out with a new pink cutting board and ruler and yet another project.
I then went next door to The Albion. A lovely old pub with a relaxing welcoming staff, good atmosphere and real ales including Brakspear Bitter and London Pride….
….but on this occasion I decided on a wine accompanied by some pork scratchings.
I spend another 45mins writing postcards and playing with the fabrics of my new project and missed the 3 o’clock train..
I’m thinking that this is the perfect place for me. Right near Hampton Court Palace, by the train station, great real ale pubs ( there was another one across the road) and a beautiful quilt shop….Heaven in a box…
Stay posted Love L