RepositoryRoyal Archives
ReferenceMRH/MRHF/MENUS/MAIN/MIXED/1-24
CollectionGeorgian Menu Books
TitleGeorgian menu books, principally for the reigns of George IV (as Prince Regent and King) and William IV
Date1812-1837
DescriptionThe menu books contain accounts of the meals (mostly dinners, but also luncheons and, more occasionally, suppers and breakfasts) prepared for the Prince Regent, later George IV; William IV and Queen Adelaide; Queen Victoria), members of their families, their guests, and their Households, at the various royal palaces. Volumes also include lists of provisions.
Extent24 volumes
Physical DescriptionVellum binding
LevelCollection
Admin HistoryThe menu books were probably originally kept by the Lord Steward's Department, also named Household Below Stairs (and later, Master of the Household's Department), which dealt with domestic and culinary matters.

The department was responsible for the catering and official entertaining at all the royal palaces, and for all the domestic arrangements. This means that the staff in the department included all who worked in the royal kitchens, the housekeeping staff, including housemaids and porters, but also some of the craftsmen who maintained the furnishings in the royal palaces (e.g. upholsterers). The menu books, in fact, provide details about dinners and, occasionally, luncheons, served to these members of staff in the residence where the King or Queen was dining.

The Lord Steward's Department was originally presided over by the Lord Steward, who was in charge of all 'below stairs' officers and staff through the Board of Green Cloth. The Lord Steward, however, delegated much of the work to his subordinates, in particular the Master of the Household, to the point that by the 1920s this department was renamed the Master of the Household's Department. Since the latter worked at the direct service of the Queen, his records came to join her archives, which is why these Georgian menu books are now in the Royal Archives.

These accounts of dinners and food provisions for the royal kitchen were possibly compiled by the Clerk Comptroller, or, later, the Comptrollers of the Kitchen (Comptroller and Deputy Comptroller, the latter being a position created in 1823).
ArrangementThe arrangement of the material within the 24 volumes follows two criteria: chronological and of the location where the dinners took place, with the latter being the predominant criterion. This explains some temporal discontinuities necessary to group together dinners taking place in the same Royal residence.
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