Kew Palace

Kew Palace-once known as the Dutch House because of its building style-  you can see the Dutch Gables in the roof, above-  is a fascinating place to visit. It has had associations with the royal family since the early 18th century, and is now well known as the home of George III and Queen Charlotte who lived there occasionally (and at nearby White Lodge, Richmond) while a new palace at Kew, designed by Wyatt was being built. Sadly, this fantastical building was never completed, but the Dutch House- now known as Kew Palace- survives. Here is a rather famous portrait of George III’s father, Frederick Prince of Wales, and his sisters with Kew Palace in the distance:

Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his sisters in the garden at Kew Palace by Philip Mercier

Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his sisters in the garden at Kew Palace by Philip Mercier

George III’s last visit to what is now called Kew Palace was in 1806 when he stopped there to dine on the way to Windsor. Queen Charlotte actually died there in November 1818 :  she had to take refuge there when becoming ill on the way to Windsor. This was the last time the palace was fully occupied, and as a result it became a sort of time capsule of life in a small but royal country home at the beginning of the 19th century.

The Main Kitchen at Kew Palace

The Main Kitchen at Kew Palace

The Palace was restored and opened to the public in 2006, and I’ve since been lucky enough to visit it.  But this year the kitchens at the Dutch House have been opened to the public for the first time and I am hoping to visit them in the next few months. They have been renovated to recreate a specific day: the 6th February 1789, which was the day that George III was allowed to regain the use of knives and forks when eating, after his first acute episode of madness, for as he was no longer considered a danger to himself and to others.

I thought you might like to see some of the interesting videos the Royal Historic Palaces team  have produced to explain the kitchens. Here is their introductory video:

This is a fascinating video about the 18th century kitchen, and the scullery and how they  were restored, and the decisions the curator, Lee Prosser, and to make along the way:

This video explains the type of cookery that took place in the kitchen especially on the great roasting range (which is a rare survivor) and in the bread ovens:

Two of the Georgian dishes served to George III on 6th February 1789 have been adapted for modern kitchens and ingredients and you can see how to make therm here:  first, a Rich Chocolate Tart:

You can download the recipe as a PDF file, here.  A second video is also available to watch, how to make Soupe Barley:

You can download a PDF file of the recipe, here

A video and recipe sheet for a third dish, Mutton Smoured in a Frying Panne,  will be published soon, but some other dishes served at the King’s table are available to read, here.

You can learn about the Staff employed in the kitchen, here, and about the layout of the Domestic Offices, here.

Teh kitchen garden has also been restored,and here is a picture of it courtesy of the RHP Twitter feed:

This is, I am sure you will agree, a fascinating project. The great Tudor Kitchens  at Hampton Court have long been on the tourist trail and Victorian kitchens are a staple of many country houses open to the public. But Georgian examples are rare, as they were so often modernised when new innovations took place. I can’t wait to be able  to report to you about this place in person but in the meantime I hope you enjoy these videos and  recipes ;)