A royal chocolate-making kitchen that once catered for kings William III, George I and George II is to open its doors for the first time in almost 300 years.
The only surviving royal chocolate kitchen in the country, the space was for many years used as a storeroom. Recent research uncovered the precise location of the kitchen, in the Baroque Palace’s Fountain Court.
The 18th-century chocolate kitchen is well preserved, with many of its original fittings, including the stove and furniture, still intact.
The kitchen was once the domain of Thomas Tosier, personal chocolatier to King George I. From February, visitors will be able to see where Tosier and his staff prepared a luxury chocolate drink – the preserve of the rich and sophisticated – for the royal family’s dinners and entertainments.
Throughout the year the kitchen will host live Georgian chocolate-making sessions, showcasing the complex processes involved in the making of the drink.
The kitchen will be dressed with ceramics, copper cooking equipment, bespoke chocolate-serving silverware and glassware of the time, and a new display will explore the story of the royal responsibility of making chocolate for the king.
Polly Putnam, curator at Hampton Court Palace, said: “Chocolate was an expensive luxury. Having your own chocolate maker, chocolate kitchen and chocolate room filled with precious porcelain and silver – all this, just for chocolate – was the last word in elegance and decadence.
“It was really something that only kings and queens could afford, and is a real contrast with all the pies and meat we associate with the Tudor kitchens at Hampton court.”
The chocolate kitchen will open on Friday 14 February.