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Online course

A History of Royal Food and Feasting

Chart the history of royal food in the splendour of royal palaces.

A History of Royal Food and Feasting

Explore the history of royal food through the tastes of five key monarchs.

From the Tudors to the 20th century you’ll join expert historians, curators and food scientists from the University of Reading and Historic Royal Palaces, and indulge in the changing tastes of successive generations of royalty and experience the splendour of their palaces. We’ll 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 and Victoria at Kensington Palace.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1: King Henry VIII and Hampton Court Palace

  • The Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace and catering to the king, his court and servants.
  • The celebrations and christening of Edward VI.
  • Henry’s expanding waistline and the science behind his assumed, heavy protein diet.

Week 2: Elizabeth I and the Tower of London

  • Palace or a prison? Elizabeth I’s relationship with the Tower.
  • The expansion of Elizabeth’s empire, discovery of new worlds, exotic foods and their influence on eating habits.
  • Surviving or thriving; life as a prisoner at the Tower, and some daring escapes.
  • Sir Walter Raleigh; his life as a prisoner in the Tower, experimenting with herbal plants, including his Great Cordial recipe.

Week 3: George I at Hampton Court Palace

  • How chocolate came to be an integral part of the English court and why George I had his own chocolate maker.
  • Lavish entertainments using chocolate to showcase kingship and wealth.
  • The science of chocolate.

Week 4: George III at Kew Palace

  • The Royal Kitchens at Kew Palace and how it catered for the Royal family.
  • George III; flamboyance versus frugality
  • The mad king. George’s medical treatment and the food he ate following his first bout of mental illness.

Week 5: Victoria and Kensington Palace

  • Young Victoria and the celebrations in 1836 when she turned 17.
  • The rise of the middle class queen. New technology and the Victorian food revolution.
  • Victoria’s eating habits and her favourite foods.
  • The democratisation of tea and cake.

When would you like to start?

  • Available now
  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Investigate a range of evidence including: artefacts, documents and diary entries to draw conclusions about monarchs and key food events from the past.
  • Explore common misconceptions about the palaces, monarchs and their impact on changing dietary tastes from Henry VIII to Queen Victoria.
  • Investigate the flavour intensity, nutritional value and medicinal benefits of food past and present.
  • Discuss typical flavour combinations of the era based on a selection of historic recipes and flavour experiments, adapted for learners to try for themselves at home.

Who is the course for?

This course is intended for anyone with an interest in history, food and food science. It doesn’t require any reading before you start or previous experience of studying the subject.

Who will you learn with?

Kate Williams

I am Professor of History, University of Reading, author of acclaimed books on royalty, royal expert for TV, food and social historian. They've even let me talk food history on Bake Off! Big HRP fan!

Marc Meltonville

I work as a Food Historian for the Historic Royal Palaces. I get to look at the food stories across our 6 Palaces spanning 1000 years of dining history.
The story of food takes us everywhere.

Polly Putnam

I'm a collections curator for Hampton Court and Kew Palace. Specialisms include George III and the history of Chocolate in the Royal Court.

Annie Gray

Food historian (C18th-mid20th GB food). BBC Radio4's The Kitchen Cabinet panellist. Book: The Greedy Queen: Eating with Victoria, out 2017. Plus The Sweetmakers on BBC2

@DrAnnieGray
www.anniegray.co.uk

Who developed the course?

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle.

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  • Access to this course for 7 weeks
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes

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  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you complete the course