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Christmas Decorations at Kew Palace Kitchens


I am just thinking about making a few arrangements for Christmas and I was thinking about previous years.
In December 2013 I helped decorate Kew Palace Kitchens with arrangements made from natural plant material only,things which would have been available at the time of King George 3rd and Queen Charlotte.
Most are easy to make and if you have materials in the garden, cheap too, so here are some ideas to get busy for Christmas decs for inside and out.

The kitchens were very, very cold as heating and lighting is kept to a minimum to preserve the interior (tables etc.)

You may see the arrangements are on plastic sheeting throughout these photos, again, for the protection of the centuries old wood and fittings.

The King’s old bath tub, found stuffed up one of the HUGE chimneys in the kitchen. We were told this had been there for a couple of hundred years, amazing.

We made things to go in the kitchen, fish store, curing room and others.

Barrels and sinks have been reproduced to match the 18th Century ones.

Arrangements went into fireplaces large and small,

in, on and around barrels,

on shelves and window ledges,

and one for the door too.

(A few of the above made by yours truly but this one made it into last Christmas’s Flower Arranger Magazine as a step by step, my claim to fame!)
Easy to make with a small branch and a few bits added,
so you see with a bit of foliage, a few berries, some dried fruit, either whole or slices, cinnamon sticks tied with raffia, ribbon, in fact whatever suits you, you can make a decorative arrangement for your fireplace, table, door, or anywhere you like and not a flower in sight.

If anyone wants the step by step for door hanging let me know, thanks.

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They all look brilliant Thorney!! they go perfectly in the kitchens what a wonderful old building.
I'd like the step by step for the door hanging please :-)

7 Dec, 2015


Fascinating blog, Thorney. Thank you.
I've added to GoYpedia.

7 Dec, 2015


Fascinating to have a glimpse into the past of King George. I'm still wondering about the bathtub in the chimney. Beautiful decorations and cleverly made.

7 Dec, 2015


I have looked it up on line for Kew Palace Kitchens and it seems we were told the truth Bathgate. I've copied for you here. I have wondered myself why, so now we both know.

As two centuries of lumber was cleared out of the abandoned Georgian kitchens at Kew Palace in west London – the smallest of the royal residences – a unique and poignant piece of royal history was uncovered.
The brown tin tub found stashed away in a chimney opening was the bath in which King George III took regular soakings in hot water, a prescription to calm him as he and his attendants wrestled with his terrifying bouts of mania.
At that time, the early 1800s, he was assumed to have been mad; he is now believed to have developed the hereditary condition porphyria. He was virtually imprisoned at Kew to prevent a political crisis if the full extent of his condition became known, as the previously gentle and clever king roared obscenities and terrified his wife, Queen Charlotte.
The discovery bears out a Kew legend that the tormented king took his baths not in the sumptuously furnished main house, but amid the domestic clatter of the royal kitchen.
Curator Susanne Groom believes the bath was set up for King George in a small room normally used for keeping silver under lock and key, which would have given him some privacy. It had a fireplace and so could be made comfortable, and was next door to the main kitchen with an endless supply of hot water from the copper boilers. The bath will be displayed in this room in May, when the kitchens open to the public for the first time after a £1.7m restoration. The main building will reopen in April.
The kitchens will be displayed using sound and light to evoke a significant date, 6 February 1789, when George was judged well enough to be given back his knife and fork, and sat down with his wife and daughters to a meal.
The menu survives in the national archives, and includes soup, pigeon pie, veal, sweetbreads, pike, chicken, a leg of lamb and a roast goose, pheasant, blancmange, anchovy salad, a mille-feuille gateau and pancakes.
Groom was told the story of the bath in the kitchen by a descendant of a visitor. In 1823, after Charlotte died, the palace was virtually abandoned and the kitchens fell into their long twilight. The visitor had been told by the royal housekeeper, a Mrs Tunstall, that George insisted on bathing in the kitchen to save staff the trouble of carrying heavy cans of hot water to the house.
"That has to be true, that is George to the life," Groom said.
Because the kitchen block gradually filled up with junk and stores, it escaped being fitted out with Victorian gadgets and is now a rare and historically important survivor. Original elm tables and dressers, bread ovens and roasting spits, hooks for hams and sides of meat, and a large cupboard where the precious spices were kept have all survived.
"Since the palace reopened, the question we are most often asked is, where was the kitchen and where was the bathroom? Now we can answer both," Groom said.

8 Dec, 2015


They're very nice. Much better than bought ones.
I feel like making something myself now lol :)

8 Dec, 2015


Thanks for the synopsis on King George III. Maybe he was overwhelmed by his responsibilities. At least he ate very well.

8 Dec, 2015


Fascinating stuff! I specially liked the windowsill decorations as well as the door hanging. But how awful it must have been to try to cook meals fit for a king in such a kitchen...

8 Dec, 2015


Lovely. Great ideas there. I have never seen new oak barrels before ?

8 Dec, 2015


Thanks everyone.
Bathgate, I think I should have put a link to the site about the bath, I didn't realise how much there was.
Hywel, thanks, and yes nicer and easy to make.
Steragram, windowsill/table decs easy too. That kitchen is a huge area and the rooms around it for smoking fish and meat.
The largest fireplace had spits and hooks for roasting almost anything, any size. (hanging on wall in pic 1)
All around the room smaller ovens too. Look online and see how big that kitchen really is.
Dawnsaunt, I think the idea is to match the wood in the kitchen. The old tables are amazing and we weren't allowed to put anything on the one in the first pic.We worked on reproduction tables kept covered in plastic.The barrels and sink drainer are also new as replacements.

9 Dec, 2015


I echo Steragram's sentiment "Fascinating stuff!"

Love the displays. Nothing nicer than real plants, leaves, berries. I used ivy berries one year. They looked great but had to warn everyone they were poisonous!

(Had a nice crop of Holly berries in November, but very few left now, The birds had a field day!)

12 Dec, 2015


Thanks for the blog Thorneyside. The decorations look fantastic.

13 Dec, 2015


Surprising what you learn on GOY a history lesson to boot!!
Love the natural use of the plants.....

14 Mar, 2016

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