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New exhibition to open at the Old Royal Naval College this Easter


Thu 21 Mar 24

This Easter, discover the history and appeal of chocolate at the Old Royal Naval College with the launch of our new exhibition Chocolate House Greenwich. Step back in time to discover its key role in the revival of Greenwich and experience a recreation of Grace and Thomas Tosier’s famous ‘royal’ Chocolate House.  

From its origins in Central America to becoming the mark of sophistication amongst London’s Enlightenment movement’s movers and shakers, this new exhibition traces the journey of chocolate and its impact on Georgian Greenwich society. Discover the complex history of chocolate and its role at the heart of new cultural and scientific conversations of the time.  

In the early 18th century, Greenwich became a popular destination for sophisticated people in search of elegant surroundings and a hub for astronomy, science and culture, with Sir Christopher Wren’s iconic architectural project (now the Old Royal Naval College) at its centre.  

The Tosier Chocolate House, located in what became known as Chocolate Row, on the edge of Blackheath, became a social space for the leading figures of the day. Whilst Thomas Tosier, esteemed chocolate maker for King George I, ran the chocolate kitchen at Hampton Court, his wife Grace took charge of the Greenwich Chocolate House, recreated as part of the exhibition. 

Chocolate House Greenwich will take visitors on a journey to discover the architects, astronomers, scientists – and chocolate makers – that made Greenwich a centre of innovation.   

Simon Davies, co-curator of Chocolate House Greenwich said “Chocolate Houses were public forums where people could exchange information and freely discuss the latest ideas unrestrained by the protocols of the royal court. The Chocolate House on the edge of Blackheath aspired to an elite clientele and provided a way for Greenwich to connect with the burgeoning metropolis upriver.”

Helen White, co-curator of Chocolate House Greenwich added “To be a connoisseur of chocolate became a mark of sophistication and learning in Georgian society. We hope this exhibition gives visitors fascinating insights into the history of chocolate and a taste of what the Georgian ‘virtuosi’ might have experienced at Tosier’s famous Chocolate House.”

Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in this historic Chocolate House, favoured by courtiers and ambassadors of the time. The audio and visual experience, created by Unusual Expo and actor-writer Jonathan Coote, presents the flamboyant proprietor of the original 18th century Greenwich Chocolate House, Grace Tosier, and a chance to listen in on great minds of the day including architect and astronomer Sir Christopher Wren, writer and diarist John Evelyn, the first Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, and playwright and architect John Vanbrugh. 

A series of events will complement the exhibition including an Easter Trail for families, a gin and chocolate tasting experience, a ‘Choc-o-Late’ this summer and much more.

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