About Fortnum & Mason
The central location meant they were able to supply wealthy households and most customers didn't come to the store but instead young delivery boys went to the back entrances of the houses with the catalog to collect orders many times a day. There were also many coaching inns at Piccadilly Circus, as it's the start of the road to the west of England, so Fortnum & Mason were soon supplying hungry travelers with supplies for their journey and one of the popular meals the store created included the Scotch Egg.
During WWI, the first floor was for Officer's Supplies as they had to buy their own uniform and equipment, as well as food and drink. Another invention from Fortnum & Mason was the spork.
Fortnum & Mason became a department store after WWI so the interior is actually from the 1920s although it looks more historic. The first floor became the Expeditions Department and they have supplied every Everest expedition. There was a Sports Department which even included in-store skiing lessons.
Fortnum & Mason and Tea
The Interior Design floor (where Scandinavian wooden furniture was introduced to the UK) is now the Tea Salon as tea is the most popular item at Fortnum & Mason. The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon was opened in March 2012 by HM The Queen and is an enormous space to indulge in tea drinking, afternoon tea and high tea. Do also admire the images around the room as they are by Cecil Beaton of famous customers of the store. There is also a Tea Tasting room that can be booked for up to eight people.
Fortnum & Mason started with just one tea variety - Black Bohea - in 1707, and now have 91 different teas, including the iconic Royal Blend, Queen Anne and the Jubilee Blend which uses tea grown only in Commonwealth countries.
In 1965 the Fortnum and Mason clock was added over the entrance on Piccadilly. The clock weighs three tons and the front of the building had to be reinforced when it was installed. The eighteen bells (made by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry) chime every fifteen minutes and on the hour, doors open and four foot high figures of Mr Fortnum and Mr Mason appear. They bow to each other, check standards are being maintained, turn around and go back inside.
For the 300th anniversary in 2007, an atrium was added to allow customers to look up and discover there are floors above the food halls. The metal railing design is inspired by a repeat pattern of upside-down Champagne flutes. On the upper levels there's a Gentleman's Floor where you can find a gift for every type of man, and the Ladies' Floor even has a Perfume Bar where you can design your perfect scent.
The store has moved with the times yet antique fittings are still in use and the carpet throughout, including in the Food Hall on the Ground Floor, makes you feel at home.
Even though Fortnum & Mason is a household name, it has a strong relationship with the producers of the goods it sells and can support small suppliers as it has only one store but customers all across the world.
It's an incredible building to admire and a delight to explore while shopping. Look out for the cookery demonstrations and the exhibition space on the First Floor that displays young British talent. There are even beehives on the rooftop to produce their own brand honey. Fortnum & Mason is wonderfully quirky and incredibly British.