Kenilworth Castle Hosts Elizabethan Banquet

Posted: 2010-06-26

Kenilworth Castle Hosts Elizabethan Dessert Banquet

Kenilworth Castle is one of English Heritage's showpiece properties, and they regularly host a variety of events including historic reenactments. There's a special anniversary coming up on Tuesday for Kenilworth Castle, and to celebrate, they are throwing a party - not just any party, mind you, but a recreation of a dessert party echoing that given by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, for Queen Elizabeth I over 400 years ago.

In 1575 Dudley gave a three-week-long party for Elizabeth I which was the social event of the age. Now for one day only, Kenilworth Castle is celebrating Dudley’s extravaganza and at the same time marking the first anniversary of its stunning Elizabethan Garden through the re-creation of one of the festive marathon’s highlights – an ‘ambrosial’ 300 dish dessert served to Elizabeth I during her visit.

The dessert fantasia is created by the internationally renowned duo Bompas and Parr, famed for their spectacular food installations, and it will be served alongside Kenilworth’s Elizabethan Garden. As for the Elizabethan Garden, which opened in May 2009 to considerable fanfare, it is a full-scale re-creation of that built by Robert Dudley as part of his extravagant preparations for Elizabeth’s visit.  Based on extensive evidence, including a detailed eye-witness description and archaeological excavation, the Kenilworth Garden is the most accurate recreation of an Elizabethan great garden ever attempted.

Robert Langham, a minor official who witnessed the event described the ‘Magnificent Pageants presented before Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth Castle in 1575’ in a detailed letter.   In it, he said, “After the play, followed a most delicious and (if I may so term it) an ambrosial banquet: whereof, whether I might more muse at the daintiness, shapes, and the cost; or else, at the variety and number of the dishes (that there were three hundred) for my part, I could little tell then; and now less, I assure you."

The array of delicate and delicious desserts will be inspired by the architecture and the succulent fruits and flowers of the Elizabethan Garden and ingredients will range from wild strawberries and juicy cherries to pears and subtle floral infusions. The banquet will feature intricate sugar sculptures - including an accurate scale re-creation of the Garden’s central fountain, transformed into a fruit bowl, and white sugar aviaries, inhabited by colourful sugar birds, animated on wires.

Other beautifully presented delicacies will include Milk and Rose Jam, hand panned dragees, candied aniseed, jelly, a galaxy of historical tarts and even meat-based desserts such as puddings baked in sausage casings. Weird and wonderful ingredients will also be used including 24-carat gold, with the banquet spectacularly laid out to provide an eye-wateringly beautiful, colourful and sensational feast, worthy of the Garden it will be served in.

Visitors to Kenilworth are invited to sample this unique culinary celebration in a one day tasting from 12 noon on Tuesday 29th June. Access is on a first-come, first-served basis and is free with entry to Kenilworth Castle. For those not fortunate enough to be part of this one-day tasting event, there will still be a chance afterwards to see the fabulous sugar sculptures on display and purchase special banquet inspired dishes in the tea room. Adult tickets are £7.60, Concessions £6.50, Children £3.80 & Family Tickets £19.00. Visitors will be able to enjoy the Elizabethan Garden that will be in full summer bloom as well as the whole of Kenilworth Castle. Visit for details of opening times.

Kenilworth Castle - English Heritage website
Kenilworth Castle - our visit

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