Christmas Foods and Traditions: Grace Tosier, The Royal Chocolate Maker’s Wife

Grace Tosier
Grace Tosier

Yesterday we learned all about the appointment of Thomas Tosier in 1717, as the Royal Chocolate Maker to King George I. Thomas and his wife, Grace, owned a famous ‘Chocolate House’ on Chocolate Row, in London, and when King George wanted a chocolatier for himself, Thomas was his man. This presented a problem, because now Thomas was a very busy man making chocolate for the King, and lived in his own apartment in the palace. He also had to be available 24/7 for the king. But, he didn’t want to give up his ‘Chocolate House’, that was so popular with the rich and the famous.  The only thing to do was let Grace take over! Grace knew exactly what to do and was determined that her husband’s fame would benefit her also. From that time on she always refers to herself as Grace Tosier, wife of the King’s Chocolate Maker. She turns out to be an excellent business woman, presenting evenings in her ‘Chocolate House’, as a “Royal Experience” to coincide with what is going on in the King’s Court. She installs a dance floor and presents balls in accordance with the Court Calendar. She celebrates the king’s birthday and other occasions. Grace is offering a court experience with those people who cannot be at court! She becomes very popular! Even after Thomas died and Grace remarried she always referred to herself as Grace Tosier. In the newspaper she was described as always wearing a very large, brimmed hat, and having flowers in her bosom. In 1729, Bartholomew Dandridge, a fashionable portrait painter, painted her portrait as one in a series of the aristocrats, celebrities, and characters of London. I think Grace may have had the best of both world’s; she knew the ins and out of the court without having to give up her home, business, friends and freedom to serve.

In  February 2014, the Chocolate Kitchen and the Chocolate Room, special royal chocolate-making rooms, opened up again at Hampton Court Palace. Research identified the exact location of the kitchens, which had been used as a storeroom in the ‘Grace and Favor’ period. The royal family may have left Hampton Court in 1737, but the palace and it’s apartments soon found another purpose. After George III, who reigned from 1760-1820, decided not to live at Hampton Court Palace, there was debate as to the future of the palace’s thousands of rooms. From the 1760s onwards, the palace was divided up for ‘grace-and-favor’ residents, who were granted rent-free accommodation, because they had given great service to the Crown or country. They lived, often with their own small households of servants above, underneath and around the state apartments. The whole palace was divided up into a labyrinth of apartments of varying size and quality. The average size was twelve to fourteen rooms, many of them vast in scale. However, some apartments had no more than four rooms, while the largest had nearly forty. Despite the grand location, the apartments were by no means luxurious. Yet, competition for them was fierce and many applicants waited years in the hope of obtaining an apartment. Over the next two hundred years a wide variety of people became Hampton Court residents. In 1838, the young Queen Victoria, who reigned 1837-1901, ordered that Hampton Court Palace ‘should be thrown open to all her subjects without restriction.’

As of 2014, the new display in the kitchen explores how the chocolate was made for the king and features many of the pieces that made up the chocolate serving service of chocolate pots, glassware, and linens. The Chocolate Kitchen’s 18th century fixtures and fittings all survive – you can see a Georgian fireplace and smoke jack within the chimney, a pair of charcoal braziers, a folding table, cupboard and shelves. Thomas Tosier is impersonated in the Royal Chocolate Kitchen still chocolating away…….Grace Tosier’s picture hangs over the fireplace.

See you tomorrow for more Christmas Food and Traditions!

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