The vast kitchens at Hampton Court Palace were extended by Henry VIII in 1529. During Henryâ€™s reign the kitchens had a staff of over two hundred, who ensured that the hundreds of people who formed the kingâ€™s court were fed.
The kitchens were situated on the north side of the Â Palace and were reached through a separate gatehouse andÂ were grouped around three courtyards. The gatehouse was occupied by the Cofferer (the kitchen accountant) and his assistants, the Board of the Greencloth, who monitored the arrival of all supplies and staff to the kitchens.
The Spicery was situated in the western court and as its name suggests was stocked with all manner of exotic spices imported from the East, along with herbs from the palace’s own herb garden. The Office of Spicery was also responsible for the fruit cultivated in the palace gardens.
The Great Kitchen was at the eastern end of the central court.Â Six huge fireplaces with cooking equipment and tools such as spit racks were in use and at each end of the Great Kitchen were hatches, from which liveried serving men collected the finished dishes and took them to the Great Hall.
There were three larders in the kitchens; meat was hung in the Flesh Larder, fish was kept in the Wet Larder and pulses and nuts were stored in the Dry Larder.
Meat stock and boiled meat were produced in the Boiling House in a great boiling-copper. This was on the east wall of the room and had a capacity of about 75 gallons.
The Pastry House was where both sweet and savoury pies were prepared in four ovens. Costly sweet dishes and puddings were prepared in the Confectory and were reserved for the more important members of the Court.
Linen and wax for candles was kept in the Chandlery and charcoal (sometimes used instead of wood for the kitchen fires) was stored in the Coal House.
The palace had three cellars: The Wine Cellar was used to store casks of wine; the Privy Cellar held wine and ale for the King and Queen and the Great Cellar stored the ale drunk by the Court.
The kitchens are fascinating and very popular with visitors and tourists but they are not merely a museum. Under the direction of J. Marc Meltonville and Richard Fitch, a team of â€˜experimental archaeologistsâ€™ research and study everyday life at the Palace in Henry VIIIâ€™s reign. This includes cooking, eating and using implements and techniques just as they wereÂ done in the 16th century. They even make their own clothes, from materials available at the time, which they wear at work and in their living quarters within the palace.
Visiting the kitchens is a fascinating experience not to be missed. Thereâ€™s an informative audio guide in several languages that tells you everything you need to know about the kitchens.
Croustarde Lumbarde was an important Tudor feast day dish, whose name was derived from its pastry case, the French ‘croustade’.Â The filling itself- finely ground chicken or veal, hard-boiled egg yolks, honey and spices set in a mixture of eggs and cream, eventually came to be known simply as ‘custard’.
Iâ€™ve adapted the original recipe and omitted theÂ finely shredded meat and hard-boiled eggs.
225g /8 ounces rich shortcrust (pie)Â pastry
75 ml/ 3/4 CupÂ sweet white wine
600 ml/2 1/2 Cups whipping or double (heavy) cream
4 egg yolks
1 blade mace (or pinch ground mace)
Pinch ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole clove
1 teaspoon saffron threads
110g/4 ounces dried dates, sliced
55g/2 ounces prunes, sliced
55g/2 ounces dried figs, sliced
2-3 teaspoons sugar
Line a deep 20 cm/8 inch flan dish or 6 ramekins with the pastry.Â Bake ‘blind‘ for 15 minutes, Gas 7/220 degrees C/425 degrees F.Â Put the wine, cream, egg yolks and spices in the top of a double saucepan and cook gently, stirring until starting to thicken.Â Leave to cool.Â Place the dried fruits in the pastry case (s) and strain the cooled custard on top.Â Bake for 20-25 minutes Gas 4/180 degrees C/350 degrees F until the custard is set.