Britain's History

Part One

In 1705 by Hugh Mason founded a small store in St James Market using a spare room in his house. The Fortnum family had been in London as high class builders in redeveloping Mayfair after the devastating Great Fire. 

William Fortnum had taken a position as Footman in the household of Queen Anne and in the house of Mason with a spare room where they both met each other.

As a result and with their ideal location for London travelers the pair began to create food that could be portable for long journeys. One of the most well known is wrapping a hardboiled egg in sausage meat and coating it in fried breadcrumbs, the world’s first Scotch Egg. Tasty and filling the Scotch Egg became popular.

In 1794 before the creation of the Post Office the business of sending and receiving of mail was available for anyone to do. This did not  go unnoticed by Fortnum's. They began providing letter boxes with collections made sixties a day drawing a large amount of people and lasted until 1839 when the General Post Office would be created.

In 1856 The Crimean War was the first conflict to be reported by on-the-spot journalists and the conditions which were appalling along with the story of the Charge of the Light Brigade resulting in the Queen to order  “to dispatch without delay to Miss Nightingale in Scutari a huge consignment of concentrated beef tea”, as scandalous reports of the hospitals had become known in England.

In 1886 after having been a leader in tinned goods one that was introduced was the baked bean in Britain by Heinz who brought five cases to sample from the USA with Fortnum's being considered the premier supplier of exotic foods to the wealthy.

Part Two

As the time passes one important product for Fortnum and Mason was tea. In 1902 the grocers set out on a journey for the best teas available from India and Sri Lanka combining the two types for its Royal Blend of Assam and Flowery Pekoe. Today the traditional Afternoon Tea is very much alive and well at Fortnum's grocery store on Piccadilly.

A new and most impressive item by Fortnum and Mason began in 1911 and remains popular today the Hamper. Originally prepared for the imprisoned Suffragettes they were sent once they were released by the authorities.

Today the classic hampers are filled with all kinds of treats from meats, mustards to plates and wine at all sizes and prices. 

While Fortnum's is known for all of its great food products and household goods the grocer also has its own bee hives. Since 2008 the bees have been in residence on the rooftop. Also with the bees are herbs and vegetables for their food preparations.

In 1964 a new part or landmark for the store front was a new clock with the bells being from the same foundry as London's infamous and iconic Big Ben. Every fifteen minutes the a selection is chimed on the eight bells and once an hour Mr. Fortnum and Mr. Mason appear to the folks below.

One of the most celebrated times at Fortnum and Mason are the Christmas holidays. This is when grocer has its well known front window displays for the season and terrific seasonal hampers.

Each week for the Christmas season English Living will be featuring new images of Christmas at Fortnum's on its cover page.

While the grocer has its original and popular store on Piccadilly there are other locations. In 2018 a new location was opened at the The Royal Exchange in London.  

Hong Kong

In 2019 and 312 years since Fortnum And Mason opened its doors the first overseas store was opened. Afternoon tea has long been a favourite pastime in Hong Kong since the 1920's. 

Content provided and used with permission of Fortnum & Mason, London

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