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Exotic Spices, Food and Technology
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Founded on the same site in 1707, Fortnum Mason is a unique and beautiful store. Fortnum’s is renowned as purveyors of fine foods, hampers, teas and wine. It has five restaurants, from an award-winning wine bar to the funkiest ice cream parlour. Food may be first at Fortnum’s, but lift your eyes to the spectacular atrium, and let your feet (or the lifts!) lead to the delights aloft. From the serious fun of the Cookshop to the tranquil femininity of the Second Floor and the leathery comfort of Men’s Accessories, Fortnum’s is a theatrical oasis in the middle of Mayfair.

Fortnum & Mason has held a number of warrants dating back over nearly 150 years. On March 2nd, 1863 we were appointed Grocers to HRH the Prince of Wales; on April 1st, 1867 Oilmen to their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein; October 5th, 1867 Furnishers to the Establishment of HRH the Crown Princess of Prussia, Princess Royal of Great Britain and Ireland; December 12th, 1867 Confectioners and Foreign Warehousemen to HRH the Princess of Wales; June 8th, 1887 Foreign Warehousemen to HRH the Prince of Wales; July 16th Purveyors of Oilery to HM the Queen.

History
In 1705 Hugh Mason had a small shop in St James’s Market and a spare room in his house. The Fortnum family had come to London from Oxford as high-class builders in the wake of the Great Fire, helping to establish the St James’s and Mayfair areas as the most fashionable in London. William climbed another rung by taking a post as footman in Queen Anne’s household - and the room at Mr Mason’s.

The Royal Family’s insistence on having new candles every night meant a lot of half-used wax for an enterprising footman to sell on at a profit – so while the Queen’s wages paid the rent, William’s enlightened sideline melted down into enough to start a respectable business. The rest, as they say, is grocery.

1714 - Was the Georgian Era Opens and the explosion in trade was creating a middle class with more disposable income and there was suddenly more than ever to spend it on. International trade expanded at a dramatic rate as new routes were discovered and transport became more reliable, with London at the hub of everything - making it a magnet for the world.

1744 - The British East India Company with  Robert Clive was the general who brought India into the British Empire - introducing the British palate to spices and, above all, the world’s best teas. Strong links with the Company (there were several Fortnums on its payroll) meant that from the outset Fortnum’s was in the forefront of innovation and experimentation, a unique emporium for goods sold precisely nowhere else – exactly like today.

In 1794 - The F&M Post Office - Until the General Post Office came into being, the business of sending and receiving mail was open to anyone - and Fortnum’s grasped the opportunity. It had letterboxes for paid and unpaid letters which were picked up six times a day (this was before stamps, and the recipient usually paid the tab). Soldiers and sailors, already among the company’s best customers, received a discount. The arrangement drew all sorts of traffic to the store to be tempted by the already magnificent window and interior displays. This arrangement lasted until 1839, when the GPO was founded – a year before the Penny Black with its bust of a youthful Victoria.

1851 - Dickens & Co brought the Great Hamper Revolution. Driven by the passion of Prince Albert, the Great Exhibition of 1851 was London's tribute to the Industrial Revolution. Fortnum & Mason won first prize as importers of dried fruits and dessert goods but their influence on the nation's habits was by then acknowledged to be far greater.

Pre-fabrication was all the rage: the Exhibition's home, Crystal Palace, was manufactured in a factory and then assembled on site, and Fortnum's led a similar trend in ready-to-eat luxury foods such as "poultry and game in aspic, hard-boiled eggs in forcemeat (the famous "Scottish egg"), dry and green turtle, boar's head, truffles, mangoes… all decorated and prepared so as to require no cutting."

Charles Dickens wrote of one Epsom Derby; "Look where I will.... I see Fortnum & Mason. All the hampers fly wide open and the green downs burst into a blossom of lobster salad!" Similar references in Henry James, Wilkie Collins and others – and the preponderance of our hampers at Ascot, the Boat Race, Henley, Wimbledon, Lord's and Twickenham - meant that by the middle of its second century Fortnum's had become the out-of-household name.

Since the middle of the century Fortnum & Mason had been the leader in tinned goods – and chief provider of information on how to open the tricky devils with a pocket-knife. This made us the obvious first stop for a young entrepreneur lugging five cases of samples from the USA. Recognising a future staple we took them all, introducing the mighty baked bean to Britain for the first time – one of the more prosaic entries in our ever-expanding list of historic gastronomic firsts.

1886 - Young Mr Heinz brings Baked Beans to Piccadilly. Since the middle of the century Fortnum & Mason had been the leader in tinned goods – and chief provider of information on how to open the tricky devils with a pocket-knife. This made us the obvious first stop for a young entrepreneur lugging five cases of samples from the USA. Recognising a future staple we took them all, introducing the mighty baked bean to Britain for the first time – one of the more prosaic entries in our ever-expanding list of historic gastronomic firsts.

1930s - In response to massive demand for our goods across the pond, in 1931 Fortnum's took a magnificent seven-storey building on Madison Avenue, grander even than its London alma mater - though in the time between conception and execution the Depression had begun to bite, making it a star that burned brightly but all too briefly.

King George V's Jubilee in 1935 drew so many princes and potentates from all corners of the Empire that Fortnum & Mason, having long imported the best from all the continents, created a special department to accommodate their dietary requirements. To whom else might one possibly have turned?

1999 - F&M Online
In 1999 Fortnum & Mason went truly global by extending its reach into the digital universe. The first online store launched with just hampers - but there were 50 of them. Soon the range grew to include classic gifts from our Food Hall and by the turn of the millennium the site featured over 800 products.
The entirely new 2007 site expands the list still further and brings the spirit of entertainment and celebration alive on every page.

2004 - F&M Japan
Fortnum & Mason Japan opens - Supplier of delicacies to Fortnum’s for centuries, Japan has long been one of our best export markets. In our first overseas expansion since 1931, we now have branches in two Japanese cities.

2007 - The new Fresh Food Floor and Wine Bar, 1707, is now open.
Now Fortnum's Food Hall has expanded onto two floors for the first time, there's a greater variety of fabulous fresh food than ever before. We can’t imagine anyone asking for more.

All the content above is extracted from Fortnum & Mason portal: www.fortnumandmason.com

Fortnum & Mason Address: 
181 Piccadilly
London
W1A 1ER
Telephone:            +44 (0)20 7734 8040      
Email: pressoffice@fortnumandmason.co.uk
Website: http://www.fortnumandmason.co.uk

Magazine & In Store Events:
Fortnum's Magazines >> 
In Store Events >> 
RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 
RHS Show Tatton Park Corporate 
Fortnum's Bees 
Fortnum's Windows 

Learn why Fortnum & Mason has been the quintessentially English store since 1707, situated in the heart of London's Picadilly.



Step inside the beautiful world of Fortnum & Mason. This wonderful video shares a little of the 300 year history for serving customer's in London's Picadilly and around the world. See just how ecclectic a selection of goods are on offer from every day groceries through to luxurious, hand-made recipes. Learn about the specialists who can advise you on everything from specialty tea to our famous hampers.

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