From Valentine’s Day visitors to Hampton Court Palace will be able to peek into Georgian chocolate-making rooms, which will open for the first time in almost 300 years.
Recent research has uncovered the precise location of the royal chocolate kitchen in the baroque palace’s Fountain Court, which once catered for three Kings - William III, George I and George II.
Historic Royal Palaces believes it to be the only surviving royal chocolate kitchen in the country and, having been used as a storeroom for years, it is well preserved with original fittings including the stove, equipment and furniture.
From next month visitors will be able to explore the 18th century kitchen, which was the domain of Thomas Tosier, personal chocolatier to King George I.
Tosier’s wife Grace was something of a celebrity in Georgian London, trading on her husband’s important role to promote her own renowned chocolate house in Greenwich.
The new display will explore the responsibility of making the special chocolate drink, which was the preserve of the rich and sophisticated, for the King and his most intimate dinners and events.
Polly Putnam, curator, Hampton Court Palace, says: “This is a below stairs story like no other.
“Chocolate was an expensive luxury. Having your own chocolate maker, chocolate kitchen and chocolate room filled with precious porcelain and silver – all this, just for chocolate - was the last word in elegance and decadence.
“It was really something that only kings and queens could afford, and is a real contrast with all the pies and meat we associate with the Tudor Kitchens at Hampton Court.
“We really hope visitors will enjoy exploring the palace’s sophisticated side.”
Throughout the year the chocolate kitchen will host live Georgian chocolate making sessions so people can experience chocolate making for the King first-hand and learn more about the elaborate and complex processes used to create his luxury drink.
The opening of the chocolate kitchen is part of a wider celebration of the Georgians across Historic Royal Palaces to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian Accession to the British throne this year.
Georgian chocolate-making rooms at Hampton Court Palace; open daily from February 14, 10am to 4.30pm; Tickets 0844 4827799 or visit hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace.