Kitchens today have come a long way. If you’re the custodian of a historic property or country estate, your kitchen would have looked very different when it was first built. Period properties reflect societal norms and the way of life back then – and the kitchen is a prime illustration of social history.
The modern kitchen we know today has its beginnings in the 20th century, barely a hundred years ago, with the development of mass produced kitchens only really taking off after World War II. Going back in time, though, you’ll find bespoke kitchens for country homes that were as unique as the properties and families they served.
Whether you own a country home and are looking for period kitchen inspiration, or you’re interested in practical ideas on how to inject a sense of history into your farmhouse kitchen, take a look at these fabulous 5 historic kitchens in The Telegraph.
1. Hampton Court Palace
One of the most famous kitchens in the country, the Tudor Kitchen at Hampton Court Palace was once the biggest in England, feeding 600 people twice a day. In addition to the Great Kitchen which once boasted 6 fireplaces with spit-racks, there were 3 larders for fish, meat and dry ingredients. Separate functional areas included a boiling house, a pastry house, a confectionery and a spicery, as well as 4 cellars where wine and ale were stored.
You can visit cooking demonstrations and historical re-enactments taking place in this truly impressive surroundings, where Tudor style dishes including meat spit roasted on an open fire, or buknade chicken stew are prepared.
2. Castle Drogo
Dating back to the early part of the 20th century, Castle Drogo on Devon’s Dartmoor was a privately commissioned stately home designed by the famous architect Edward Lutyens. The castle itself and the surrounding estate are now in the care of the National Trust.
The kitchen at Castle Drogo is a sight to behold. The only natural light in the room comes from a circular lantern above a circular beechwood table designed by Lutyens himself. If you’re not able to visit in person, you can watch a short video tour here.
3. Royal Pavilion
A quirky seaside retreat built for the Prince Regent in the early 1800s, the Royal Pavilion at Brighton is well worth a visit. The Great Kitchen and the adjoining Banqueting Room are extraordinarily grand spaces that reflect some of the architectural fantasies of the designer John Nash. A very tall room with light coming from skylights above, the kitchen has 4 cast iron columns, painted to look like copper palm trees.
The kitchen had all the ‘mod cons’ of the time – including steam heat technology, an impressive lighting and ventilation system via 12 high windows, and a constant supply of water pumped directly in the Royal Pavilion’s own water tower.
4. Hatfield House
The stately home of the 7th Marquess of Salisbury, Hatfield House in Hertfordshire is a fine Jacobean house that is also a popular film location for many well known feature films including Batman (1989), Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (2004), Sherlock Holmes (2008), The King’s Speech (2010) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2011).
The grand Victorian kitchen that was recently carefully restored back to 1846, when time of Queen Victoria’s first visit to the house. The kitchen area also comprises a still room, a pastry room and a scullery, and is open to the public and for private hire.
A magnificent late Victorian country house and estate, Lanhydrock in Cornwall is now being looked after by the National Trust who have sought to recreate the atmosphere of an Edwardian country house.
The kitchen, which was refurbished by the owner after a fire in 1881, was fitted with the then ‘latest technology’ such as ovens and warming cupboards to keep dishes hot until they were brought upstairs for serving. However, an old-fashioned roasting spit above the old fireplace still remains.