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Hampton Court Palace

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ABOVE: Hampton Court's experimental archaeologists research the past by living the way the Tudors did, and they enjoy sharing what they've learned. INSET BELOW: Creating fire the old-fashioned way, with a flint and steel.

Tudor Kitchens

The Tudor Kitchens of Hampton Court Palace are popular with visitors of all ages, but they're more than a tourist attraction. In these reconstructed kitchens, which once occupied 50 rooms of the palace, a team of "experimental archaeologists" study everyday palace life in Henry VIII's time by cooking, eating, and working with implements and techniques from the 1500s. They even make their own clothes, which they wear both on the job and in their living quarters within the palace.

photoWhen this article was written, the the team was directed by J. Marc Meltonville and Richard Fitch, who have been working in the royal kitchens since the early 1990s. Neither man fits the image of a dusty academic: Marc appeared in the muddy opening battle of Gladiator, while Richard, a trained leatherworker who once made a briefcase for Prince Charles, appeared in the Robin Williams film Being Human.

  • Note: Hampton Court Palace recommends that you allow 20 minutes for a quick walk through the Tudor Kitchens or 25 minutes if you're using the free audioguide.

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