Who dined at the Palace?

The Royal Menu’s entails the meals that the King, Queen and their family were eating on a daily basis, alongside listing the meals of what the other people at the Kew Palace were eating. This includes the servants, workers and guests who would be staying and living at the palace. This blog post entails to show who the the different guests were and their roles at Kew Palace.

The recording of the Royal Menu’s would have most likely been recorded by ‘The Clerk of the Kitchen’; it was their responsibility to record every meal which would be served to the Royal family, guest and workers.When taking a look at the Royal Menu’s from 1789, you can see that the first meals written on the first page are ‘Their Majesties Dinner’. Which are the meals for the Royals. Moreover their children and their servants are also present in the Royal Menu’s; for example Princess Mary, Princess Amelia and Princess Sophia.[1]

Multiple guests are recorded in the Royal Menu, lets first take a look at Dr Francis Willis (1718-1807) and his servants. Dr Willis was a doctor of ‘madness’ and he ran an asylum in Lincolnshire, but left to look after King George III on November 1788 when he was called upon to take care of the King when his ‘mania was becoming uncontrollable’. By 1789 the King was seen to have been ‘cured’ which led to the increase of the reputation of Dr Willis and thus would no longer be staying at the palace; this is evident as Dr Willis no longer appeared in the Royal Menu. [2]

Lady Elizabeth Waldegrave (1760-1816)

Another guest of the Royal family was Lady Elizabeth Waldegrave (1760-1816). She was a countess and is mentioned in the Royal Menu’s in 1789. Lady Waldegrave arrived at the palace during the period where King George III was seen as being incapacitated due to mental illness during the years 1788-89. She was serving at the side of Princess Charlotte, taking on the role as the Lady of the Bedchamber. Not only this, but she was at the side of Queen Charlotte during this period, remaining loyal to her during the difficult period of the King’s illness.

A name that continuously shows up on the Royal Menu’s is that of Miss Martha Caroline Goldsworthy (1740-1816). She was the head of the princesses’ education, teaching them a range of numerous subjects; such as ‘English, Music, French, German, Geography, Dancing and Arts’. Her official title was ‘Sub-Governess to the Royal Highnesses the Princess Daughters of George the Third’. Miss Goldsworthy was therefore living with the Princess during the period of 1788-89, when the Royal Menus were written as she was educating them.

The grave of Miss Martha Caroline Goldsworthy (1740-1816)

Some of the working roles which are stated in the Royal Menus include Footmen, King’s and Queen’s Grooms, servants, Equerries and Pages. They all took key working roles within the royal Household and were noblemen. Firstly taking a look at Equerries, they were an officer and nobles which were in charge of the stables of the Royal family members and to attend to the King whenever it was required. The roles of the Footmen were that of domestic workers, they had numerous roles to complete for the Royal family; some roles would include making sure their meals were served and running errands.

Another nobleman role was of the ‘Grooms’, who are also known as the ‘Groom of the Stool’; this role was to make sure that the King’s and Queen’s bowels were monitored and assisted. King George III in fact had hired the most Grooms throughout his time as King!

The Royal household had many guests and workers, with guests during this time period of the King’s madness were there to take care of the royal family. Lady Waldegrave and Miss Goldsworthy were there to help take care of the Princesses, while Dr. Willis was present to take care of the King. The workers that are present in the Royal Menus had to make sure that the King and Queen were being served, fed and taken care of. The Royal Menus were in place to control the food that was being made daily in the household, being written by the Clerk of the Kitchen who had to make sure that the food being made would feed everyone at the palace. If you want to find out more about the Royal Menu’s check out our other blog posts! Learn more about Dr.Willis here.  

[1]LS9-226_0021, Royal Menu

[2]John M.S. Pearce,. The Role of Dr.Francis Willis in the Madness of George III (Department of Neurology Hull, 17 Dec 2017), pp. 196-7.


2 thoughts on “Who dined at the Palace?

  1. The range of people dining in Kew palace is really interesting! Did you find any radical differences in the food that was served for the Royals compared to the other guests?

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