The Tudor period is famous for the lavish feasts and banquets enjoyed by royalty and wealthy nobles. Tudor kitchens had to sustain the requirements of these rich men and women. A kitchen such as the one at Hampton Court had to provide food for up to 600 people. Other smaller palaces and mansions might need to cater for 200 people. Tudor Menus for the wealthy were extensive, but the social etiquette of the period required that only small portions were taken. New foods and spices were being imported during the Tudor period and unusual recipes and menus were being created which made use of the finest foods and ingredients. The presentation of food was also of prime importance so the servants who worked in the Tudor kitchens not only had to prepare and cook the food but were also required to create the most lavish presentations. The Tudor kitchens of the wealthy therefore had to be big enough to cope with all of these arduous tasks.
The Size of Tudor Kitchens
Tudor kitchens had to be big. A small but wealthy Tudor house would have a kitchen measuring about 30 feet by 30 feet. However the kitchens at Hampton Court occupied more than 30 rooms and 3,000 square feet. These massive Tudor kitchens were staffed by 200 people providing two meals a day for the 600-800 members of the court of King Henry VIII who were entitled to eat there. The amount of food consumed was massive. The Great Kitchen in Hampton Court housed six great fireplaces.
The Quantity of Food cooked in Tudor Kitchens
An inventory of meat cooked in the royal Tudor kitchens from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in one year totalled:
- 8,200 sheep
- 2,330 deer
- 1,870 pigs
- 1,240 oxen
- 760 calves
- 53 wild boars
The Suite of rooms in Tudor Kitchens
There were a suite of rooms in Tudor kitchens consisting of the main kitchen, the buttery, the spicery, the bottlery, the pantry and storerooms which can be described as follows::
- Tudor Kitchens included cooking ovens for baking and huge fireplaces for smoking and roasting food, complete with spits. These great kitchens also had a water supply complete with sinks and a drainage system
- The buttery was for storing and dispensing inexpensive beverages such as ale. The beverages were later stored in cellars and the buttery was renamed the Cellar. The person who was in charge of the cellars was called the Butler
- The Bottlery was intended for storing and dispensing wines and other expensive provisions and was later called the Privy Cellar
- The Pantry and Larders was for the storage of perishable food products
- The Spicery contained the spices imported from the continent and was also expanded to house fruits
- The Storerooms were often located over the buttery, cellars, larders and pantry and used to store non-perishable kitchen items and products
- The Confectionery was the part of the kitchens where the elaborate sweet dishes were prepared
- The kitchen prepared a vast amount of pies and pastries and these were prepared in the Pastry House which contained four ovens, one of which 12 feet 6 inches in diameter
- Boiled meat were produced in the Boiling House, using a great boiling-copper which contained about 75 gallons
Each section of this Tudors website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about Tudor Kitchens. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of the Tudors!