Discover Georgian Culinary Life in the Royal Kitchens at Kew Palace
The kitchens are beautifully preserved. It’s not hard to imagine the chatter and noise of cooks and pastry chefs busy preparing meals for the Royal family and their entourage when they were in residence.
If you’re lucky, you may see a cookery demonstration where dishes typical of the Georgian era are prepared in front of you.
A Royal Kitchen Where Time Has Stood Still
The entrance to the Royal Kitchens at Kew Palace had been blocked up and left untouched since Queen Charlotte’s death in 1818.
When it was opened up again a few years ago, it was discovered that time had literally stood still.
The long wooden kitchen table used for preparing dishes was in place and the spit rests were still hanging on the wall.
The Great Kitchen was originally constructed to serve the White House, a grand mansion that once stood opposite Kew Palace.
During the summer and at weekends, the Royal family would arrive bringing with them equipment sent up from London by barge.
The kitchens would be opened up and dishes cooked using the produce grown in the large kitchen garden that was re-established for the BBC series Kew on a Plate.
See What’s on The Menu
Walking up the garden path you’ll be see the smaller cottage kitchen garden before being greeted by a costumed guide.
The guides happily answer questions about working life in the kitchens where the servants all had to swear an oath of loyalty to the King.
The Master Cook in 1789 was William Wybrow and the kitchen was entirely the domain of men including boys as young as eight.
Step inside the Clerk’s Office and you can read the ornate handwritten entries in the giant ledger detailing each provision. There are expensive spices listed – mace, cinnamon, sage and coriander seeds and vermicelli and macaroni pasta which were all stored in jars in the dry larder.
Another ledger records the menu of the day. Roast meat featured heavily including venison, beef and mutton but small birds such as blackbirds and larks were often served too.
Experience the Great Kitchen on 6th February 1789
Downstairs there’s a scullery, bake house, wet larder, silver scullery and la pièce de résistance – the Great Kitchen with its high ceiling.
The impressive centrepiece is the 12-foot long elm table that was built when the kitchen was first equipped in 1737. The spits in front of the enormous fireplace were once turned by the smoke jack and for gentler cooking, there is a range of charcoal stoves.
Projected on the wall, you’ll see preparations for a meal served to the King and Queen on Friday 6th February 1789.
This was the day that King George was given back his knife and fork after recovering from his first bout of illness (they had been taken away from him in case he harmed himself).
Several dishes were served with each course. Among them savoury dishes of boiled perch, duck, roast chicken, rabbit, crayfish, omelette and partridge.
A Tin Surprise in the Silver Scullery
In the silver scullery where the silver was once diligently polished and stored, there’s a humble tin bath.
On the advice of his doctors, King George III would take regular baths. By having his bath in the kitchens, he spared his servants the chore of bringing the hot water to the Palace.
Picnic Like Royalty
Once you’ve finished your tour of the kitchens, follow in the footsteps of royalty by walking to Queen Charlotte’s Cottage in a quieter part of Kew Gardens.
The cottage was built for George III’s wife as a picnic retreat and is open to visitors at weekends and on Bank Holidays during the summer months.
Bring a picnic rug, a bottle of wine, a great spread and enjoy a relaxing summer’s day lunch on the lawn.
- Georgian cooking demonstrations are held on select dates throughout the summer so plan ahead if you want to see one
- Combine your visit to Kew Gardens with Afternoon Tea in the Orangery restaurant
- Take a tour of the Royal kitchen garden featured in Kew on a Plate. Hear advice from Head Gardener Joe Archer on how to get the best out of your veg plot
- Don’t miss The Hive installation at Kew Gardens and the opportunity to learn about the extraordinary life of bees
- To see the oldest working kitchen in Britain do the Windsor Castle Kitchen Tour
Mr Hendricks says, “They tell me that registered disability assistance dogs are very welcome in Kew Gardens”.
How to Find the Royal Kitchens at Kew Palace
The Royal Kitchens at Kew Palace, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE
The Royal Kitchens
The Foodie Travel Guide
Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures.
Kew Gardens Entrance Tickets
- Entrance ticket to the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in London
- Visit Kew Palace (summer opening only)
- See highlights like the Pagoda and the Treetop Walkway
- Explore the glasshouses and the newly re-opened Temperate House
- Recharge in one of Kew Garden’s cafés or find a pretty spot to eat outside (meals at own expense)
- Join a free guided walking tour of the gardens if you wish
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