Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cerise went to #Hampton Court near #London, brought home #wine and a gentleman!

Front entrance. My picture.
You will note the different griffins or lions.
All below are my pix!
    When planning a research trip abroad, it's vital to weave in a quest for more than facts. You crave color, drama, incredulous nuggets of fact that support absolutely nothing you are currently writing!

   My trip with Mr. DeLand from inner London to Hampton Court was just such a train journey.

   The Tudor period is fascinating but not my Fave. It's filled with characters like Henry VIII whose actions and hubris boggle the imagination. Some places I visit show me the character of the person who lived there.

   Hampton Court Palace certainly did that for me and I want to tell you and how and why in words and pictures!

   Did you think that King Henry VIII had gout because he ate only meat? Drank too much wine? Ate too few vegetables?

   You would be so right. Visiting Hampton Court on my last trip to England and listening to the audio tour proved the rumor of Henry's gourmand sensibilities. True, he had at his court hundreds of courtiers who needed to be fed. True, he was zealous when it came to watching them to see they remained loyal. (All those tiny eaves' droppers in the rafters are rather frightening...and made me wonder if someone had installed inside them small CCTV cameras.) True, the number of servants required to feed such an entourage was daunting.

More griffins!
   But a tour of Hampton readily proves that the task of feeding such a court was enormous, complicated and a daily job. Here you see the plate, numerous and in its own room for washing, storing, and counting each piece after every meal! The enormous kitchens, just off the main courtyard where the servants received the daily deliveries of meat, vegetables and grains, are many rooms devoted to different tasks of meal preparation.  Here you see items used in jam preparation and pasties or pies. An enormous number of pies were cooked every day.

   Why pies?

   Pie with crusts serves as a convenient means of serving hundreds of people quickly and efficiently. They can be composed of all vital ingredients, packed together into a savory self-contained meal, baked easily together, cooled easily and dispensed just as easily. Servants could quickly grab a pie, eat it and get on with their duties. And unlike the way we eat pie today, they would discard the crusts, lick their fingers (note necessarily wash them!) and march onward!

The huge roasting spit at work today! The pokers sticking out at an angle 
show the different positions of the racks. Men turned the spits and many
weretrained for years at the art of roasting a side of meat.
   More elaborate dishes were created for Henry and his premier courtiers. Here you see the huge spit for roasting meat. Hundreds of pounds of meat were delivered to Hampton Court each day. This included deer, wild fowl, boar and other wild animals. Domesticated animals were not a favored entree because in this age, it took many years to grow a steer to suitable butchering size. His rearing was also expensive. For the court to buy many domesticated animals on the hoof would be enormously expensive. So wild game, hunted by the court in sport, served as a suitable substitute.

Queen Caroline by Joseph Highmore
   The second major addition to the palace is the Georgian wing. Inhabited and favored by the first Hanoverians, this wing is constructed of sparkling plaster and red brick outside, dark walnut walls inside, punctuated by dazzling silver ornamentation.  I ran out of camera battery power (!!!) here and could get only a shot of the outside. Do see below for my pix. But the charming bits inside here were the long views through the stately windows of the fabulous artfully designed gardens and Queen Caroline's bedchamber. Here, this woman who was George II's wife often bathed in a wooden tub half covered with a sheet. She claimed cleanliness did more for health than the perfume many used to cover their bodily odors. Her bathing practice outraged her ladies. Alas, the poor woman did not benefit much from her practice as she had a ruptured umbilical hernia. She   suffered badly from this, endured surgery for it, but nonetheless soon died from the malady.

   She was well loved, initially by her cantankerous husband, and later by her people.

   I was intrigued to learn that Hampton Court is run by a private foundation, not the Crown. A marvelous short excursion for you from London, this 30 minute trip to Hampton Court offers you a wonderful tour of the house and grounds, a glimpse of two periods in which the house was occupied by royalty—and a scrumptious tea shop with gloriously steaming, creamy hot potato soup and home made bread! (Other items, too. But on the cold day we were there, this fare hit the spot.) And as for that gentleman I brought home with me to consult on future novels?

   He's having a wonderful time listening to Rhianna and watching all the James Bond flicks. I cannot get him away from the political coverage. His advice is simply to have our prime minister dismiss all those running as nincompoops. I keep telling him we have no p.m., but he thinks I'm mad when I speak of a president and congressmen elected by the people. "There's your problem," he tells me. "Clean house. Put in a parliament. Then they all have to find a way to get along."

   I'm sticking to writing romances, I have oft told him. I need info on that. But he's insistent that he knows nothing of love. The man needs a wife. I can see it in his blue, blue eyes.
Henry's kitchens: Oh, the pies! A lot of them, too!
Pots for making soups and stews, cooked over grills!
The storage room for the plate. Each piece was counted after every meal. No theft here!

Henry's wine cellar. Dark, cool and full.

The second addition to the Palace is this Georgian period wing, all lovely symmetry outside. Inside, the walls are dark
walnut, the appointments dazzling silver and the atmosphere, secretive and murky.

The emblem of the castle and Tudors outside the entrance to the Chapel Royal.


Kathryn R. Blake said...

Wonderful post, Cerise. Thanks so much for sharing.

Cerise DeLand said...

Thank you, Kathryn. Glad you enjoyed it!