How to Cook for a Henry VIII Feast – Recipes & Manners and Eating Customs of the Elizabethan Age

Part of the Kitchen at Hampton Court – One of the Palaces of Henry VIII, Where 100’s of People Were Served Twice Every Day.

Henry VIII’s Kitchen may have contained as many as 55 separate rooms. There were boiling rooms and even rooms for preparing the laundry in the kitchen  area, which filled 36,000 square feet.

Today, I registered in the free FutureLearn Course A History of Royal Food and Feasting Here, and it is going to be a blast! Check out the following video cool-along for food that might have been served at the court of Henry VIII:

Ryschewys close and fryez

Ryschewys close and fryez: A Small, Fried Fruit Pie

Ingredients: to make 12

For the filling:

  • 3 dried figs
  • 3 chopped dates
  • A table spoon of currants
  • Half a teaspoon of mace
  • Half a teaspoon of black pepper
  • Half a teaspoon of canelle

For the paste:

  • 100g (3.5 ounces) flour
  • A dessert spoon of sugar
  • A pinch of saffron dissolved in half a teacup of water


  • Pound the figs in a mortar
  • Add the dates and currants and pound some more
  • Finely chop, grind and mix the spices – should be balanced, so if you can smell one stronger than the others, add more of them to compensate
  • Add the spices to the dried fruit and mix thoroughly
  • Make a paste from the flour, sugar and saffron water
  • Roll out the paste as thin as paper – a little goes a long way in this recipe
  • Cut out small circles – about a teacup size
  • Add a small amount of the fruit mix – about half a tablespoon
  • Damp the edges of the paste with water and close forming a pea-pod shape
  • Shallow fry in oil (or in a deep fat fryer) for a couple of minutes or until golden brown
  • Serve warm, sprinkled in sugar

See this recipe and more Here

Fylettys en Galentyne

Fylettys en Galentyne – roast pork stewed in rich caramelised onion gravy

  • 400g (14 ounces) roast pork
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 pint (600ml) gravy – a good beef stock will do, with powdered pepper, cinnamon, cloves (one is plenty) and mace for an optional Tudor taste
  • 1 teacup of breadcrumbs – brown bread works best
  • 1 level teaspoon of vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Chop the onions and fry until till golden brown
  • Slice the roast pork quite thickly – about 1cm thick, with all the pork scraps shredded and used as well
  • Put the pork in a large stewing pan, add the stock and fried onions
  • Put on the hob, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer
  • Stew for about an hour – or when the liquid is reduced to a half
  • Towards the end, thicken with the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper and point with the vinegar
  • Serve whilst piping hot

See This Recipe and More Here

Tart Out of Lent


Ingredients: to make 6-8 portions

For the filling

  • 100g (3 ½ ounces) Cheshire cheese
  • 150ml (¼ pint) cream
  • 1 medium sized egg
  • 30g (1 ounce) butter
  • Salt and pepper

For the pastry case

  • Any high butter pastry, such as shortcrust, will do
  • Egg yolks for glazing


  • Chop the cheese and then pound in a mortar
  • Add cream, egg and butter and mix together to make a thick cream (about the consistency of Cottage Cheese – add more cream if too dry, more cheese if too wet)
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Make a pastry tart case, about 25cm (10inches) diameter – you can use a tart tin if easier – and thin pastry lid
  • Fill with cheese, cream, egg and butter mixture
  • Put on pastry lid – seal and glaze with egg yolks
  • Bake at 220°C/gas mark 6 for 40 minutes or until golden
  • Allow to cool a little and serve

Recipe for Tart Photo Credits Future Learn Here:


Misconceptions about Foods Served at Henry VIII’s Court

  1. Henry VIII’s kitchen staff did not use spices to hide the taste of fouled meat. Serving 600 -1200 people twice each day, food rarely had time to sour, and if that happened, it would not have been used. Henry VIII’s kitchen only served the finest of foods, and spices were used as an expensive garnish.
  2. Beer was not drunk because fresh water was not available at Hampton Court, where fresh water was piped from the springs at Coombe Hill, which was three miles away.
  3. Henry VIII was a dainty eater and the only one who had a fork at meal time. Eating at Henry VIII’s court was not a crude and rowdy affair.

Code of Manners for Meal Time at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court

Sit not down until you have washed.

Undo your belt a little if it will make you more comfortable; because doing this during the meal is bad manners.

When you wipe your hands clean, put good thoughts forward in your mind, for it doesn’t do to come to dinner sad, and thus make others sad.

Once you sit place your hands neatly on the table; not on your trencher, and not around your belly.

Don’t shift your buttocks left and right as if to let off some blast. Sit neatly and still.

Any gobbit that cannot be taken easily with the hand, take it on your trencher.

Don’t wipe your fingers on your clothes; use the napkin or the ‘board cloth’.

If someone is ill mannered by ignorance, let it pass rather than point it out. 

– recorded by the Dutch Writer, Desiderius Erasmus, who published his De Civitate in 1534-


4 thoughts on “How to Cook for a Henry VIII Feast – Recipes & Manners and Eating Customs of the Elizabethan Age

  1. I remember watching an old movie starring Charles Laughton as Henry VIII. I wonder if the popular notion of kings eating poultry at the table and then scattering the bones comes from this film. It’s amazing to see all the pots and the whole kitchen as artifacts. Thirty-six thousand square feet? I can only imagine. The course looks to be great fun. I hope you thoroughly enjoy it–like fine court cuisine!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is great fun. You need to jump in. I am starting a free Robert Burns class July 18 and a free Wordsworth class in October


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