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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds How do you do? I’m William Gorton. I’m the first Clerk of the kitchen to His majesty King George III. And you’re welcome to my humble abode here. This is my parlour and my office at the Royal Kitchens at Kew. Well, as first Clerk of the kitchen, I’m responsible for all the food for all of the household, the food for Their Majesties, for Their Royal Highnesses, the Princesses, for the equerries, the pages, and the rest of the staff. Everything that’s eaten here at Kew, I’m responsible for. Now according to my terms of my job description, I have to compile the menu every single evening, for what all those people are going to eat the following day.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds And I have the key to the dry larder. But that is just the pinnacle of my work. I’m responsible for the staff. I have to pay the contractors. I have to pay the suppliers. I have to make sure that everything adds up, so that the accounting period is fully accounted for. Present on the 6th of February there are 23 men and boys working here. I’m one of them, so 22 men working under me. That’s only half of the full complement of the kitchen. But His majesty is in seclusion here during his illness. And we’re not expecting any big state banquets or anything like that. So the rest of the establishment is still over at Windsor Castle.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds So for today, the 6th of February, I’m planning– first of all we’ll start with soup. Their Majesties like to start with a light soup, a sort of barley soup will be placed in front of them. And when they’ve had enough of that soup, it will be taken away from them. Then the first course will consist of four roasted chickens, three pullets, broiled and minced; slightly more than seven and three quarter pounds of mutton in pies, mutton collops. It’s very thin slices of mutton in a pie crust. Then there will be six boiled perch. There be two breasts of lamb a la pluck. That’s something Mr. Wybrown, the master cook, is very keen on cooking this a la pluck.

Skip to 2 minutes and 13 seconds Then there will be two salmic of ducks, 13 loins of veal, a smort. And when Their Majesties have had their fill of that, then that will be removed. And the second course will be brought in. While they’re waiting for the second course, you wouldn’t like Their Majesties to go hungry or get bored. So I’m going to have yes some cold grouse and probably about 19 pounds worth of roasted mutton on the sideboard. They can be presented should they wish to eat it. Then the second course, that’s going to be three roasted partridges, two roasted rabbits, some stewed apples, tarts, truffles, some more mutton in two small tarts of sorts, so probably one for each of them.

Skip to 3 minutes and 3 seconds Then I will add to that some omelette roulade, rolled up and then cut into slices, so you can see the spirals made by the herbs. Then we’ll have some spritzen, a nice sweet course, spinach, and crayfish a la creme, which is a particular dish that His Majesty has been eating over the terms of his confinement. So if he feels the other things are, perhaps, too rich for him or too complex, he can then finish off with the crayfish a la creme.

The Clerk of the Kitchen

In this Step, we go behind the scenes and meet the Clerk of the Kitchens, William Gorton himself. Find out what he decides to serve the King on the 6 February 1789.

To help you translate some of the terms he uses, you can refer to the menu here, which includes some explanation:


Soupe barley 

4 chickens roasted 

3 pullets minced and broiled (pullets are young hens) 

7 ¾ s mutton collop pyes (collops (slices) of mutton in a pie)

6 perch boiled 

2 breasts of lamb a la pluck (Pluck is the term used for things that have to be removed by hand such as kidneys,heart and liver, so it would have been a dish using both the lamb breasts and also the offal)

2 salmic of ducks (see below for a 'salmic' recipe)

13 loin veal smort (Smort means braised in oil or fat, so in this case the loin of veal would be. It's an adaptation of a word seen from Medieval and Tudor cookery: smoored)

Grouse cold 

19 ¼ mutton roasted &c 

3 partridges roasted 

2 rabbits roasted, ½ suet 

Apples stewed 



SP mutton 

2 small tarts of sorts 

Omlets roulade 


Spritzen (German puff cakes – see Step 4.17)

¼ crayfish à la crème 


Here is a recipe from Patrick Lamb’s Royal Cookery (1719), which is typical of recipes variously called salmic ,salme or salmi (although on the menu of 1736 it is a salmic of duck, not woodcock):

Take two woodcocks halfroasted, cut them up neatly, and let the trimmings with the entrails be pounded in a marble mortar; then put them into a stewpan, add half a pint of cullis, two eschalots chopped, half a gill of red port, and a bit of rind of lemon; season to the palate with pepper, salt, and lemon juice. Boil the ingredients ten minutes, and strain the liquor to the carved woodcocks, which stew gently till done. Serve them up in a deep dish with sippets of fried bread strewed over.

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A History of Royal Food and Feasting

University of Reading