Image 2023 10 03 T15 14 00
Banner Default Image

About Us

​How It All Began...

With Fortnum's Archivist Dr. Andrea Tanner

Fortnum's Story...

  • The Beginning
  • We invented the Scotch Egg
  • We became a Post Office
  • Suppliers to Royalty & Soldiers Alike
  • Fortnum, Meet Heinz
  • Tea Fit for a King
  • We Sent Hampers to the Suffragettes
  • Fuelling the Front Line
  • Visitors From Afar
  • Our Famous Clock is Revealed
  • Our Rooftop Bees Take Up Residence
  • The Queen Opens the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon
  • The Cathedral of the Railways
  • Fortnum’s Gets Its Skates On
  • We Launched the Food and Drink Awards
  • The Fourth Type of Chocolate
  • Off to the City!
  • The Piccadilly Circus heads to Hong Kong
  • 1707

    The Beginning

    Our legacy began in 1705 by Hugh Mason, from a small store in St James Market and a spare room in his house, and the Fortnum family who had arrived in London as high class builders reinvigorating Mayfair in the wake of the Great Fire. William Fortnum, who was quite the entrepreneur, also took a post as Footman in Queen Anne’s household and in Mr Mason’s spare room, where Fortnum met Mason. Like all great exercises in creation, Fortnum & Mason began with light. The insistence of Queen Anne's household on fresh candles every night spelled a legitimate perk for an enterprising footman: spare palace wax to sell on. By 1707, William Fortnum's enlightened sideline had melted down into enough to leave royal service and start a business with his landlord Hugh Mason. The rest, as they say, is grocery.​

  • 1738

    We invented the Scotch Egg

    ​Finding itself perfectly placed in London for travellers heading west, our young enterprise set itself the task to capitalise on creating food that was easily portable for long distance journeys. Coming up with numerous ideas, Mr Fortnum & his staff developed the smart idea of wrapping a hard-boiled egg in sausage meat and coating it in fried breadcrumbs, the world’s first Scotch Egg. Tasty, filling and portable, it proved to be just as popular then as it is today.

  • 1794

    We became a Post Office

    Before the days of our beloved Post Office, the business of sending and receiving mail was open to anyone, another opportunity quickly seized by Fortnum’s. Providing letterboxes that were collected six times a day, this arrangement attracted all sorts of people, from those who were captivated by our magnificent windows to soldiers and sailors who received a discount. The arrangement lasted until 1839, when the General Post Office was founded – a year before the Penny Black with its bust of a youthful Victoria.

  • 1856

    Suppliers to Royalty & Soldiers Alike

    The Crimean was the first war to be covered by on-the-spot reporters, so for once the home front was aware of the soldiers' appalling conditions. The story of the Charge of the Light Brigade gripped the nation, with The Queen taking a personal interest and sending Fortnum's an order “to dispatch without delay to Miss Nightingale in Scutari a huge consignment of concentrated beef tea”, after the scandal of the hospitals had become known in England.

  • 1886

    Fortnum, Meet Heinz

    Since the middle of the century Fortnum’s had been the leading provider in tinned goods, which made us the obvious first stop for a young entrepreneur lugging five cases of samples from the USA. Recognising a future household staple we took them all, introducing the mighty baked bean to Britain for the first time. Whilst baked beans was one of the more prosaic entries in our ever-expanding list of historic gastronomic firsts, Fortnum's was considered as the premier supplier of exotic edibles to the gentry of the time.

  • 1902

    Tea Fit for a King

    In 1902, we were set a challenge. “Bring me the finest tea in all of the land,” came the request from King Edward VII. Not ones to say no, we set off round the globe. From India we brought Assam. From Sri Lanka came Flowery Pekoe. And from this splendid blend of the two comes a smooth, honey-like flavour that still sets the benchmark for tea, 100 years later. The tea, Royal Blend, was our gift to the king; it’s quite the cup.

  • 1911

    We Sent Hampers to the Suffragettes

    ​When the Suffragettes were imprisoned for smashing our windows in 1911, we sent them hampers after they were released from Holloway prison. Containing the likes of our famous beef tea, their contents were intended to help build up their strength.

  • 1914

    Fuelling the Front Line

    ​All staff serving in France and Flanders were guaranteed to have kept their jobs on their return, which a surprising number managed, in the meantime the women of London kept things buzzing along brilliantly. Fortnum’s supplied our soldiers with hampers full of the usual quantity of tuck, where we soon learned that only metal tins were any use against the ever-present gourmet rats.

  • 1935

    Visitors From Afar

    ​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. We offered Muslim and Hindu readily-prepared meals, complete with liveried Indian servants where required. To whom else might one possibly have turned?

  • 1964

    Our Famous Clock is Revealed

    ​1964 saw a new landmark added to the front of the store – the famous Fortnum's clock, with bells from the same foundry as Big Ben. Every fifteen minutes a selection of airs is played on eighteen bells, and once an hour Messrs F&M themselves appear to check that standards are being upkept.

  • 2008

    Our Rooftop Bees Take Up Residence

    ​We've kept our own bees in rooftop hives, grown our own herbs and vegetables in our sky-high allotments - even smoked our own salmon, ready to be served in our restaurants below.

  • 2012

    The Queen Opens the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon

    ​1st March 2012 was an historic day at Fortnum & Mason. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge, visited the store to open the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. It was also an opportunity for Her Majesty to inspect the 60 unique Diamond Jubilee products created in celebration of her reign.

  • 2013

    The Cathedral of the Railways

    ​Life has always moved at a breakneck pace at Fortnum’s, and so after a mere 306 years of trading, we decided to open a new store. Famous for serving the needs of travellers for centuries, it was only natural that we looked to St Pancras International for our second outpost, offering a little haven of Piccadilly pleasure to passengers heading out on their journeys. And before anyone could tell us to calm down and have a cup of tea, we opened the doors of yet another in Heathrow Terminal 5 the following year.

  • 2013

    Fortnum’s Gets Its Skates On

    ​Such is our dedication to winter pursuits that in 1930 we installed a miniature ski slope on the Third Floor. Therefore it was with great precedent that almost a century later we joined forces with Somerset House, and opened our alpine-inspired Fortnum’s Lodge at London’s most beautiful ice rink (and officially introduced the concept of après-skate, too). Returning every year since, it has proven to be a natural partnership, not least thanks to our unerring grace on the ice even after a large chocolate fondue.

  • 2014

    We Launched the Food and Drink Awards

    ​We decided it was time to celebrate the people – the writers, publishers, broadcasters, photographers and personalities – who share our passion for pursuing the extraordinary. From Jay Rayner to Mary Berry, every famous name in food has been on our guest list over the years, and in 2019 the kings and queens of food royalty were joined by HRH The Prince of Wales, who received a special award for his long-standing commitment to sustainable farming.

  • 2018

    The Fourth Type of Chocolate

    ​The biggest innovation in chocolate industry for decades, our launch of Ruby Chocolate – the near-mythical fourth type of chocolate – proved a last-second race to market after more than a decade in development. We were the very first to introduce it to the UK, marking another milestone in Fortnum’s storied history of chocolate discovery and imagination. Naturally lipstick pink with intense fruity notes, ours was a pleasingly flamboyant end to a 13-year-long experiment.

  • 2018

    Off to the City!

    ​Always on hand with a hamper or case of bubbly, Fortnum’s has long come to the rescue of City workers in need of a last-minute gift: little more than a hastily scribbled card and an eleventh-hour call to our concierge team has meant that clients, colleagues and, well, spouses everywhere have been none the wiser. In 2018 we saw the opportunity to offer our services a little closer to the action, opening a new outpost at London’s historic centre of trade, The Royal Exchange.

  • 2019

    The Piccadilly Circus heads to Hong Kong

    ​Fortnum’s has always been an English brand with a global palate, and our presence is felt in a number of different countries around the world. But in 2019 we packed our bags – several of them, in fact they were more like containers, several extremely large containers – and for the first time in 312 years, opened our first overseas standalone store and restaurant in Hong Kong. While afternoon tea has been enjoyed in Hong Kong since the 1920s, they’ve had to wait a century for the very best.

Our Locations

Go to branch: Piccadilly page

​​We are still at 181 Piccadilly, just as we have been for over 300 years. We take extraordinary care over the origins of everything we sell. Every sprout, lobster, truckle and rib comes direct from suppliers we know intimately. Fortnum’s suppliers are as close to our hearts as our customers are and we stop at nothing to maintain exceptionally high standards.

Fortnum and Mason, 181 Piccadilly

, W1A 1ER

View Jobs
Go to branch: The Royal Exchange page
The Royal Exchange

​In 2018, we opened our doors at The Royal Exchange, in the heart of the city of London. As well as a delectable all day dining and drinks menu, The Royal Exchange offers everything from biscuits, preserves and teas, to wine and spirits, with a Concierge service with an unrivalled gift offering.

Fortnum and Mason, 4-7 Royal Exchange, Bank, London.

, EC3V 3LR

View Jobs
Go to branch: Heathrow T5 page
Heathrow T5

​A moment of relaxed style in the busy heart of Heathrow's Terminal 5 our store and bar provide the perfect pre-flight stop. Customers can find Fortnum’s favourites, including our iconic hampers, tea and biscuits to a selection of chilled savoury treats including Smoked Salmon and Caviar. It's the perfect place to pick up a taste of home - or a little souvenir or gift to take away.

Level 2, Airside, After Security, Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, Hounslow, Middlesex, London.

View Jobs
Go to branch: St Pancras page
St Pancras

​At the heart of recently redeveloped St Pancras International, you’ll find a little haven of Fortnum’s pleasure. Here at one of the capital’s unique landmarks, customers can enjoy a spot of shopping.

Fortnum and Mason, St Pancras Station, Pancras Road

, N1C 4QP

View Jobs
Go to branch: Hong Kong page
Hong Kong

2019 was a momentous milestone in our history as we opened our first shop and restaurant outside the UK in Hong Kong's cultural and gastronomic hub, K11 MUSEA. From our classic signatures to exclusive products to biscuits freshly baked in-store for the very first time, discover the wonderful world of Fortnum’s on the iconic Victoria Harbour waterfront.​

Shop 022, G/F, K11 Atelier, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. 香港九龍尖沙咀梳士巴利道18號 K11 Atelier 022號鋪

View Jobs