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Modern-day feasting at Hampton Court Palace Posted On 19 November 2021

It’s foodie heaven… just not on the Tudor scale

Feasting was always a big thing at Hampton Court Palace. We’ve seen the films; we know that when Henry VIII got a few of his mates in it tended to get a bit messy. And with courtiers gorging on a belt-stretching menu before washing it down with gallons of wine and beer – calorie intake was around 5,000 a day – it’s easy to see why Henry stacked on a few pounds.

The production line that was the main kitchen – the king made sure he had his own – and its tales of excess, are an integral part of any tour. But the gluttony did not end with Henry’s demise: in one year of Elizabeth I’s reign, more than 14,000 animals were slaughtered for banquets. Like father, like daughter …

Times and tastes change, but the spectacular palace’s history with food will be extended early next month – thankfully on a less extravagant scale – when the annual Festive Fayre takes place.

Between December 3rd and 5th, the courtyards will be transformed into a foodie’s dream, with everything from Christmas puddings to sausages and brownies to churros, with hand-picked artisans guaranteed to test any pre-Yuletide diet.

It is just one of a number of events at the architecturally-significant building which reflects the contrasting Tudor (it was originally built for Cardinal Wolsey in the early 1500s) and Baroque stylings (King William III rebuilt and expanded much of the original structure).

From December 8th to January 3rd, it becomes the Palace of Stardust thanks to the enchanting new light trail, with the cobbled courtyard and gardens featuring breathtaking illuminations inspired by the palace’s famous astronomical clock (think planets, sundials, moons… and clocks). The trail winds up in the heart of the Wilderness, once home to King Charles II’s formal pleasure garden.  

And it wouldn’t be Christmas if the palace didn’t have its ice rink. It opened last Monday and goes through to January 9th.

Further details at hrp.org.uk

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