Hampton Court Palace will open its rediscovered royal chocolate kitchens to the public this week, almost 300 years since they were last used.
Marking a wider celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian accession to the British throne, the until-recently forgotten kitchens reopen from February 14.
Access to the preparation and storage rooms is available, while chocolate of the most regal sort is on offer to those with a sweet tooth.
Polly Putnam, curator at the palace, says: “This is a ‘below stairs’ story like no other. Chocolate was an expensive luxury. It was a very royal thing and no one but the king would have had two chocolate rooms.
“It is remarkable that we are even able to identify these rooms.”
Until last year the exact whereabouts of the kitchens, first used by the three Georgian kings during the 18th century, were unknown.
But thanks to the work of a dedicated team of researchers the precise location, hidden among 1600 other rooms in the palace, was revealed.
Ms Putnam added: “It [the rooms] probably became storage quite early on. I want to say that that’s unusual, but we keep finding new things all the time.”
All care has been taken to restore the rooms to their original state, including the various paraphernalia: pestle and mortar, chocolate pots and porcelain cups.
The stove on which the cocoa beans were heated, shelves and a spit rack are all on show.
Mark Meltonville, food historian at the palace, explains: “The king’s chocolate would have been taken up to him for breakfast every day.
“It was the normal way to start the day.”
This authentically royal chocolate, sometimes flavoured with old spice, guinea peppers and aniseed, will now be dished out to the public.
Slow traffic due to earlier accident on M25 anticlockwise between J8 A217 (Reigate) and J7 M23. All traffic was held for a short time.