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Fortnum and Mason… much more than just a wicker basket!

I had had never heard of Fortnum and Mason until I purchased a Nintendo Wii from Facebook and upon collecting, was packaged nicely in a huge F&M branded hamper basket. ‘You can have the basket too’ the seller told me. I was like no its ok, but alas they were insistent as they had no other bags. They were going through a divorce and just wanted rid.

When I got to the car Tina was like, ‘you do realise what you have there!’ I clearly had no idea and that was the first I had heard of Fortnum and Masons.

Fast forward what must be 18 months later and we were heading to London for Tina’s’ Christmas present which was seeing the Wicked Musical.

First though it was the perfect pre-theatre food at Honest Burger. Then, we took a short walk (in the pissing rain) to the Fortnum and Mason building. This is where we were going to get dessert, a decadent éclair from Maître Choux. 

My god, this place was incredible. Let’s tell you a little bit more about Fortnum and Mason and their unbelievable 312 year history. Nestled in the same location on Duke Street in London’s Piccadilly since 1707! But it was 2 years previously to this that Hugh Mason formed a small store in St. James Market and a small room in his home.

Some of their impressive milestones include;

  • Inventing the scotch egg for travellers in 1738,
  • Becoming a post office in 1794,
  • Supplying to royalty and soldiers since 1814,
  • In 1854 by orders of Queen Victoria, after taking personal interest. A hamper was dispatched without delay.
  • Did you know that it was F&M that helped bring the humble Baked Bean to the Britain. It was in 1886, that Mr. Heinz (a young entrepreneur) brought 5 cases of samples. That F&M swiftly took them all after realising just much of a staple this food would be.
  • Hampers were sent to suffragettes who were imprisoned for breaking their windows.
  • In 1984, F&M sold for the first and only time, a record. This would to be “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – on behalf of the Band Aid Appeal.

As you can see Fortnum and Mason has a steep history here in Britain. One that I am sure millions of people are just simply not aware of.

We took a very long look around, taking on all their was across all their floors. One thing we found impressive was the amount of space their was. Yes, the building was vast but what I mean is the amount of ‘dead space’ their were. Fortnum & Mason don’t take the approach of pack the shop floor with thousands of items. It is more of an experience then taking a trip to your local supermarket.

Our favourite area we are going to visit again is the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. We want to keep as much of this area a surprise, but holy S**t you will not be disappointed. With prices starting from £55 per head, I’m sure you will have a unforgettable experience.

The Piccadilly store we visited is open from 10am to 9pm Monday to Saturday, and then to 6pm Sundays (god I hate these Sunday trading laws).

You can then find them at 181 Piccadilly, London, W1A 1ER. However, if you are using a GPS device, you will need to use the following address. 42 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6DN.

Look at our World top tips for visiting and getting the most out of your trip

  • Visit early, and give yourself plenty of time,
  • Parking is very limited, so make sure you plan your route with public transport,
  • Although, it will be busy a lot of the time. It is best to visit first thing in the morning to avoid the inevitable rush.
Lee Webber
Lee Webber
Hola, i'm Lee and one half of the founders of Look at our World. You will quite often find me either behind the computer maintaining this stunning website, or sampling some incredible food.

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