I have been OBSESSED with Henry VIII lately– Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Cardinal Wolsey, and the whole lot. I’m sure it has something to do with this YUMMY guy….
…and less to do with the actual Henry VIII, who I’ve read died syphilitic and so grossly overweight that he had to be moved around with “mechanical contraptions”. But, I guess that’s what the ladies went for in 1533.
Okay, so the money, power, and privilege probably didn’t hurt either…
It just sounds like an episode of Springer, if you ask me.
Although I do have to admit that he was rather GRAND for his day and every detail about his life (and loves) is still a point of fascination five centuries later… and no less scandalous.
I mean, here we are still devouring hit cable dramas about it and thinking impure thoughts about Henry… Well, the guy that plays him.
So, OF COURSE, I took time time (and the train ride) to visit one of his most fabulous homes just outside of London, Hampton Court, which is no less opulent and palatial as it stands today.
It’s not longer an official royal residence, but I was shocked to discover that it is still a private residence to certain members of the gentry. As in people actually still live in private apartments within the palace…
You can see their name plates reading “Lord and Lady So-and So” on doors and gates along the courtyards.
Can you just imagine if THIS was your address?
Of the rooms that were open to the public, the most fascinating (well, to me at least) was the kitchen, a “typical” Tudor style gastronomic extravaganza.
Let’s just say, you don’t get to be that “grand” by starving…
Members of King Henry VIII’s court were entitled to two feasts a day. All 600 of them, at least. Twice a day…
I tend to freak out when I host brunch for six or an afternoon baby shower for forty. That’s 1,200 meals to shop, cook, serve, and clean every single day!
In one of the rooms, there was a model of exactly how vast this kitchen truly was. As you can see, it was more like an entire wing devoted to food. There was a room for fish and one strictly for soups. Butchers on site and… Okay, you get the idea.
Dining at court was a very dignified and serious matter, and most certainly NOT the tossing of chicken bones observed at Medieval Times. As the audio tour assured me…
“Elegant manners were observed. Spoons and knives were used and wiped clean with bread…”
It was all very… well, grand.