Sunday, January 8, 2017

Revisiting the Chocolate Kitchen at Hampton Court: Marc Meltonville, Historic Royal Palaces Food Historian at the DIA

Rachel. Barb and Chris with Palace Food Historian, Marc Meltonville

Last November, as part of the Bitter/Sweet: Coffee, Tea and Chocolate Exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts, we had the great pleasure of attending a presentation about the chocolate kitchen at Hampton Court Palace from Historic Royal Palaces Food Historian, Marc Meltonville.

Visiting Hampton Court in 2015, ready to see the chocolate rooms

When we visited Hampton Court in the Fall of 2015, we saw the chocolate rooms but had no idea they had only recently been uncovered and restored.  Per Marc Meltonville, the general location of the chocolate rooms were known to be somewhere along the Fountain Court, but not until 2013, when a curator found inventory documents, did they find the specific spot.

Hampton Court

Fountain Court, at chocolate rooms

Hampton Court, located on the Thames. was once the home of Thomas Wolsey, until  Henry VIII took it over in 1514. During the reign of William and Mary, famed architect, Christopher Wren, designed an "addition" which included the Fountain Court. 

The chocolate room  displays all the sweet treat accouterments of the Georgian era

In 2013, excavating began in the area along the Fountain Court where the chocolate rooms were documented and, astonishingly, the original shelves and ovens were uncovered. After careful restoration, the chocolate kitchen was opened on Valentines Day, 2014. Today, visitors will see both the chocolate room (where chocolate serving pieces were housed) and the chocolate kitchen as they were in 18th century when they were run by the personal chocolate maker to King George I, Thomas Tosier.

The Chocolate Room

According to palace records, Thomas Tosier had his own bedroom at the palace. It's telling of the status of being the Royal chocolate maker  - not just your average court minion. Thomas and his wife Grace, from all accounts, lead quite a comfortable life for servants of the King.

The Chocolate Kitchen were the original oven and shelves were uncovered

In the chocolate kitchen, you can view the original oven and shelves. There are holograms that demonstrate chocolate making.

Holograms of chocolate makers are displayed on the rooms' blank walls.

At the DIA's Bitter/Sweet Exhibit, visitors can see a film of Marc Meltonville (below) at Hampton Court's chocolate kitchen.

Marc Meltonville is featured in a film as part of  DIA exhibit

It's an interesting (and delicious) part of history. An added treat to meet the Royal Food Historian in person.

BTS (at the DIA exhibit) will host chocolate tea pairing this month

Although Marc Meltonville 's presentation was only in November, the Bitter/Sweet exhibit at the DIA continues through March.

In addition, in connection this exhibit, Barb's Tea Service will be presenting The History of Tea with a Chocolate and Tea pairing at the Huntington Woods Library on January 28th.

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