Yesterday the Abbot's Kitchen in Glastonbury Abbey re-opened after being closed to the public since last year.
The following is from www.glastonburyabbey.com.
Described by historians as an architectural masterpiece, it is an extremely rare example and one of the best preserved medieval kitchens in Europe.
Experts say along with the work currently ongoing on the Lady Chapel the conservation is the most significant for a century.
It was closed last year to allow extensive conservation work to be carried out and now the kitchen is being redisplayed to give visitors a better idea of how it was used in the early Tudor period,when Glastonbury Abbey was one of the wealthiest and most influential abbeys in the country.
Janet Bell, Director, said: “Along with the Lady Chapel, this has been the most significant and comprehensive programme of conservation at the Abbey in the last 100 years.
“The Abbot’s Kitchen is surviving evidence of the wealth and influence of Glastonbury Abbey. As head of the richest monastery in England after Westminster, the abbot lived and entertained in considerable splendour.
“The conservation programme was informed by a survey of the kitchen, undertaken in 2013. This was the first detailed survey since AWN Pugin recorded the building in the 1830s. The latest technology was used to produce a three dimensional digital model, which helped us to understand the building’s complex dimensions, volume and structure.
“Vulnerable stonework was identified and required a full programme of stabilisation by professional conservators. Archaeological recording and analysis was also carried out alongside the conservation and has increased our knowledge and understanding of the building’s history.
“Peter Brears, a specialist in traditional English cookery, has advised on the new display, using historical evidence found inside the kitchen itself and from his extensive knowledge of other medieval kitchens.
He found that the remains of two stone piers in the north and south walls inside the kitchen suggested there may have been an arcaded gallery from which the Kitchener or head cook could supervise the staff – the Gordon Ramsay of his day.
“A modern gantry has been installed between the piers to indicate the position and size of the gallery. It also carries the lighting and overhead heaters to prevent any damage to the medieval walls. It has not been possible to reconstruct the gallery as it might have been as we have no evidence for its original appearance or construction. Authentic reproductions of kitchen equipment of the period will be used to illustrate to visitors how and what was cooked.
The Star and Dove Tavern in Bristol which specialises in historic dishes has adopted the Abbey’s Rescue Our Ruins Appeal as Tim Denny, joint landlord explains.
“We are a nation built upon foreign empires, colonization, shared culture and a truly international history.
“Our gastronomy is an amalgamation of these events and experiences, which has ensured this exceptionally small Isle is a melting pot of some of the most interesting and culinary diverse fusion cookery in Europe.
“For this reason we deem the rejuvenation of the Glastonbury Abbey kitchen as an essential component in connecting the past with the present and a triumph for not just the South West but all of Great Britain.
“We have been sifting through our books of Middle English, High French and Latin as we have put the finishing touches to our new downstairs tavern menu.
“Every dish has been taken from one of the first registered cook books of Britain "The Forme of Cury, 1390". Incidentally one can only assume that many of the ingredients, flavors and techniques used would have been extremely similar to what would have been delivered at the Glastonbury Abbey kitchens given the close proximity of the era, give or take 20 or 30 years.
“Dishes include fire roasted mallard (wild duck) with black pudding bread sauce and pheasant cooked with Riesling, pine nuts and dates. These combinations are extremely pleasant to eat and not as alien as one might think.”
A cook book to co-incide with the re-opening of the Abbey has been produced featuring recipes from celebrity chefs including Michelin starred Josh Eggleton, Tom Kerridge and Martin Blunos as well as Rick Stein, the Hairy Bikers, and Michael Caines.
It will be on-sale at the Abbey Shop for £5 with all proceeds to the Rescue Our Ruins Appeal.
Entry to the Kitchen is included in the Abbey’s normal admission price.