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The British Kitchen – A History

The British Kitchen – A History

At Dream Doors, it’s our mission to breathe new life into your old kitchen without the hassle and expense of a complete refurbishment. Why not replace those faded cabinet doors or invest in a new work top that accentuates the style of your kitchen? After all, a recent survey suggests that the average Briton spends roughly three years of their life cooking. It makes sense then that your kitchen should not only be functional but warm, but a welcoming place where you feel comfortable to get creative. Whether you’re a budding chef, a courtly host/hostess, or a parent with children to cater for, the kitchen is the heart of the British home. But how did we get here?

kitchenDuring the Middle Ages, a peasant’s house had just one room with a small fire in the centre for cooking. In essence, the kitchen was literally the whole home. A family would gather around a smoky wood-fire, which was built upon a simple, oval-shaped hearth stone and cook whatever they could salvage. The feudal system imposed strict rules on serfs who were only allowed to hunt certain animals – hunting deer was poaching, but baking a hedgehog was acceptable. They also had to give a sizeable portion of their crops to landlords. Pottage was the mainstay of their diet, a soup made from whatever ingredients were available, which was kept at boiling point for days.

At the other end of the spectrum, monarchs were spending vast amounts of money building grand kitchens that produced massive amounts of food for their courts. In the Tudor period, Henry VIII’s kitchens at Hampton Court were perhaps the largest and most elaborate in Europe. There were 200 kitchen employees and 19 different departments. Food was a political weapon, something Henry VIII and successive monarchs understood only too well. However, King’s and Queen’s generally viewed kitchens as dirty, dangerous places, and this outlook was slowly adopted by the middle classes. The upper echelons of society would even use separate buildings for their kitchens to minimise the fire-risk to the rest of their property. It was also socially unacceptable to have smells from cooking permeate other areas of the home. How times of changed! Now there is nothing more welcoming than the smell of a home cooked meal when you enter someone’s home.

Despite their somewhat bad reputation, kitchens continued to be hubs of creativity and innovation, and by the early 20th century, with the advent of more compact modern appliances, interior designers were re-examining the status of the kitchen. By the 1950s, many British homes had enthusiastically adopted American kitchen designs which applied a labour-saving layout known as the Golden Triangle. The idea was that the most used equipment and work areas should be grouped together to allow the user to operate effectively when they were cooking up a storm. Kitchens, once again, were beginning to regain status as the centre of the family home, and designers were going to great lengths to manufacture efficient and aesthetically pleasing kitchens.

At Dream Doors, we have continued that trend and utilise state-of-the-art CAD computer software to produce a 3-D model of your dream kitchen. We don’t believe in the one-size-fits-all approach and are happy to make any changes you feel are necessary to create a bespoke kitchen that you will love to spend time in. With over 50 local kitchen showrooms across the UK (and growing), your local design team is on hand to talk through your kitchen requirements and help you achieve the kitchen of your dreams.