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This content is taken from the University of Reading & Historic Royal Palaces's online course, A History of Royal Food and Feasting. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsWelcome to A History of Royal Food and Feasting. I'm Kate Williams, Professor of History at the University of Reading, and I'm here in the Great Hall of Hampton Court Palace. Over the next five weeks, together with my colleagues from the University of Reading and curators from Historic Royal Palaces, we'll be taking you on a fascinating journey into the history of food and monarchy. We'll be going behind the scenes at four magnificent historic royal palaces and bringing our stories of royal dining to life in the places where history happened. Each week we'll explore the tastes of an individual monarch, and share intimate glimpses of what life would have been like in these most incredible palaces.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 secondsWhen Henry VIII was at Hampton Court Palace, what did he eat here? And how did the palace cope with the hundreds of servants and courtiers? And what about one of the grandest feasts that ever took place here? The celebration of the birth of Prince Edward, Henry's desperately desired son.

Welcome to the course

Welcome to A History of Royal Food and Feasting, a free, online course produced by the Department of History at the University of Reading and Historic Royal Palaces.

On this course, you’ll join expert historians, curators and food scientists to immerse yourself in the changing tastes of successive generations of royalty and experience the splendour of their palaces - from the Tudors to the Victorians.

Over five weeks, you’ll explore the history of royal food through the tastes of five key monarchs, and take an intimate look behind the scenes at some of the most incredible palaces in England:

  • Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace

  • Elizabeth I at the Tower of London

  • George I at Hampton Court Palace

  • George III at Kew Palace

  • Victoria at Kensington Palace.

What can you expect from completing this course?

We hope you’ll enjoy reading the articles, watching the various videos, animations and joining in with course discussions and activities. After completing this five week course you’ll be able to:

  • Cook royal recipes: from Tudor pies to Georgian chocolate, Elizabethan biscuits to Victorian cakes, each week you’ll get a cooking challenge to try at home, so you too can eat like royalty.

  • Get scientific: you’ll explore the flavour, nutritional value and medicinal benefits of royal food past and present, and investigate which era enjoyed the tastiest diet.

  • Hone your investigative skills and powers of deduction: you’ll evaluate evidence, science and the palaces themselves to draw your own conclusions about royal food in different eras.

  • Discover some surprising facts: we’ll share riveting tales and challenge some common misconceptions about palaces, monarchs, and their impact on dietary tastes today.

  • Share your findings with thousands of people around the world: you’ll debate your opinions and compare experiences with expert mentors and other learners.

Meet the team

The course is presented by Kate Williams, Professor of History and Public Engagement at the University of Reading.

Throughout the course you’ll see posts from our contributors. It’s worth following the team below (click the link to their profile and then the pink button under their biography), to view their responses to common queries. By following other profiles, any comments made will appear in your activity feed on your profile, which you can filter by ‘Following’:

Dr Ruth Salter who will be joining us from the Department of History.

Dr Jane Parker and Dr Lisa Methven who will be joining us from the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences.

Throughout the course, you’ll spot comments from our course mentors who are students in the Departmenst of History and Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Reading. Keep an eye out for Charlotte, Harriet, Ruth and Stephanie.

The team above will be joined by expert food historians and curators from Historic Royal Palaces including; Marc Meltonville, Polly Putnam and Dr Annie Gray. Learner Producer Megan will also be on hand to answer your questions.

Get extra benefits, upgrade your course

If you’d like to, you now have the option to upgrade this course which includes:

  • Unlimited access to the course

Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.

  • A Certificate of Achievement

To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement when you become eligible.

If you haven’t done so already, we would be grateful if you could take a moment to fill in the pre-course survey.

Now you’ve met the team and know what to expect from the course, we’d really like to meet you.

What interests you most about the history of food? What are you hoping to gain from the course?

Share your thoughts in the discussion area below. You can ‘Like’ and reply to other learners’ comments. You can also filter comments to see the ‘Most liked’ and find your own by selecting ‘My comments’.

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This video is from the free online course:

A History of Royal Food and Feasting

University of Reading