The kitchens of castles, monasteries, and large manor houses were originally detached buildings because of the scale of operations and the risk of fire. Some 40 medieval kitchens survive; the earliest have a square plan and a central hearth; from the 13th century onwards the more elaborate ones have fireplaces along side walls. The 13th‐century abbot's kitchen at Glastonbury (Somerset) is an attractive building that rises to central octagons which are not just decorative features but act as louvres for the smoke. In the later Middle Ages kitchens began to be integrated with the main building, though they were separated from the communal hall by a screen and were sometimes approached along a passage between the buttery and pantry, as at Haddon Hall (Derbyshire). In great households of the medieval and Tudor period the cooking was done by men and boys. See Mark Girouard, Life in the English Country House (1978), and the remarkable kitchens at Hampton Court Palace.
In vernacular buildings the kitchen was often regarded as an outbuilding well into the 17th century and beyond. The term was sometimes used for a brewhouse or a bakehouse, and so seems to have meant a room with a particular type of hearth and equipment. In some farmhouses the kitchen was an unheated lean‐to for the preparation of food, which was then cooked on a hearth in the main living quarters.