Lady Gertrude Cortenay, Lady Marchioness of Exeter, was a courtier at Hampton Court Palace. She and her husband served at the court for a number of years, and attended Prince Edward’s christening at the Chapel Royal. In fact, it was Lady Gertrude who had the honour of carrying the young prince to his christening celebrations.
At the christening, a grand procession passed through the Great Hall, through Hampton Court Palace, and out to the Chapel Royal. Then, after the christening, there would have been a great deal of feasting carried out in the Great Hall, and in a more private chamber for the King himself. There would have been dancing, jousting, masques and music at this grand celebration which had been in planning for months.
Ambassadors from all over the world would have visited Hampton Court, just to give their blessings and catch a glimpse of the future King of England. For this reason, the very point of the feast was perhaps not so much one of celebration – though this would have also played a role – the point was to show the wealth and power of the king. The kitchens would have made a point of cooking too much food, so that there would be scraps left on the table which could be distributed to the poor. The meal included many courses of baked and sugared fruits, puddings, boiled fruits, and, of course, meat. At the centre of the table would have been the subtlety, a piece which was generally made of marzipan and was made not to be eaten but to be admired.
When visitors, such as ambassadors, visited Hampton Court, they would have spent a great amount of time marvelling at the various subtleties which were created for their meal.
Much of the food for the King’s court would have been provided locally, which is why his court would have moved pretty often. If the royal court stayed in the same place for too long, their providers ran the risk of running out, especially since the King would have had the privilege of only paying as much as he would have wanted to pay for his supplies.
More expensive foods, such as sugared fruits, wine and spices, would have been imported from abroad, which made them cost much more. These items were brought in via ports in London (among others) and stored for the christening at Hampton court for months in advance.