Researchers have created a list of 3,000 unique dishes served to King George III at Kew Palace and the Prince Regent, George IV at Carlton House between 1788-1813.
The result is an in-depth database of food eaten by the two kings, which includes the unique dishes, as well as 40,000 served dishes. Each dish has been classified by key ingredients and cooking methods resulting in over 1.3 million points of valuable scholarly data, which paints a detailed picture of daily eating in the royal households.
Published in Food & History , the research was conducted by Dr Sarah Fox from the University of Birmingham, Dr Adam Crymble from University College London, Dr Rachel Rich from Leeds Beckett University and Dr Lisa Smith from the University of Essex.
The data we set out in our study really shows the difference between the eating habits of the King and the Prince Regent. George IV was known for his taste for the finer things in life, including at the dinner table. By comparison, King George III’s love of the simpler rural life is reflected in his eating habits. Dishes featuring eggs, lark and ortolan and out of season vegetables were amongst the most expensive foods eaten by King George III, whereas the Prince Regent feasted on elaborate desserts, a wide range of alcohol and meat-heavy sideboards which were served at every meal.
Dr Sarah Fox, University of Birmingham.
Data came from two kitchen ledgers from Kew Palace and Carlton House. These bills of fare contain the daily food allocations of every table in the two palaces between the years 1788-1813, which includes two periods in which George III was seriously suffering from his mental health crises.
The food in the royal household ledgers also displays the impact of the British Empire on British eating habits. Sugar, spices, chocolate, tea, and coffee all appear in the ledgers reflecting the transformation of the British public’s eating and drinking habits during the eighteenth century. The British love of foreign cuisines can be seen by the appearance of pasta and parmesan, and Turkish kebabs on George III’s dinner table.
Dr Fox concluded: "George III really enjoyed eating a roast chicken, and a fruit tart or pudding for dessert. Meals like this aren’t all that different to the food we enjoy today. In fact, the seasonal more ’simple’ food enjoyed by George III could be compared to the diet of our current King according to two former royal chefs.
"This data is invaluable to understanding the different members of the royal households, from the King and Queen, down to their housemaids. It shows us how they lived publicly and privately, how social rank affected the food that you ate, and the way physicians viewed the connection between health and food. More than that though, this information helps us to think about how ingredients, flavours, and cooking methods from Britain and across the globe, came together during a time when British identity was being defined at the dinner table."