Welcome to the first in the series covering the history, treasures and other bits and bobs of the Historic Royal Palaces. Join me on the journey as we visit more than just buildings, but the sights and sounds of what comprise England’s greatest treasures: Historic Royal Palaces.
The gardeners at Historic Royal Palaces have “planted” the seeds of restoration at Hampton Court Palace and what has grown is a newly restored Kitchen Garden. The Kitchen Garden recreates the gardens that would have provided a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits to have fed the Royals during the Georgian era.
A team of professional gardeners are restoring the pathways and seeding configuration that was begun by Hampton Court Palace’s Georgian gardeners. Leading the way of this fantastic return of the garden is Vicki Cooke, Kitchen Garden Keeper.
Hampton Court Palace’s Kitchen Garden Keeper, Vicki Cooke:
“Recreating the historic royal Kitchen Garden at Hampton Court has been a fascinating project to be a part of, and it’s fantastic to be able to share the finished garden with our visitors. I hope that people will enjoy discovering some of the unusual heritage varieties we’re attempting to grow, and be encouraged to follow our progress through the seasons.”
The tiltyard (enclosed courtyard for jousting) was originally used for jousting tournaments by Henry VIII. After the sport no longer seemed in favour, the Kitchen Garden was built in 1689 for William and Mary. “The tiltyard was divided into six square, walled areas, each approximately one acre in size,” according to Historic Royal Palaces.
Upon the Accession of Queen Victoria, the kitchen gardens were combined into a singular location at Windsor Castle. The Kitchen Garden at Hampton Court was soon let out as a market garden before the 1930s conversion to the pleasure gardens.
Using historical records and a plan from the 1700s, gardeners have designed the garden true to its original form including varietals of rare heritage fruits and vegetables. The vegetables and herbs that Georgian cooks used will once again be available. From the swelling parsnips to Italian celery, the garden will also showcase nectarines, apricots, peaches and a melonry will be recreated per the original Georgian plan.
Visitors will now have the opportunity to learn some of the unique history Hampton Courts food production. Displays will showcase the customary methods used to provide food sources for Kings and Queens. There are plans for future classes on vegetable growing as the gardens begin to develop.
Hampton Court Palace Royal Kitchen Garden opening is part of the ongoing celebration commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian Accession to the British throne.
Special thanks to Hampton Court Palace for providing photos. Also wish to extend my gratitude to Adam Budhram, Press Officer for Historic Royal Palaces, Ruth Howlett, Head of Media and PR for Historic Royal Palaces and Vicki Cooke, Kitchen Garden Keeper for the Kitchen Garden at Hampton Court Palace for their assistance.