London boasts more than its fair share of his­toric de­part­ment stores, real city stal­warts which have been serv­ing the vary­ing needs of London shop­pers for cen­turies. From deca­dent riches at Fort­num & Ma­son and posh silks at Lib­erty, to the mod cons of Sel

Exclusively British - - CONTENTS - Words | Emma John­son

Un­der the spot­light: Fort­num & Ma­son.

FAVOURED BY THE EN­TIRE ROYAL FAM­ILY - es­pe­cially HRH The Queen - and cel­e­brat­ing over 300 years busi­ness in London, Fort­num and Ma­son is one of the most spe­cial and unique de­part­ment stores in the cap­i­tal. With its dis­tinc­tive eau de nil wood­work and its en­vi­able lo­ca­tion on Pic­cadilly, it has al­ways been an em­blem of good taste and beau­ti­ful things - if you are ever gifted a food ham­per, re­plete with a wicker bas­ket and the iconic F&M let­ters em­bla­zoned in black on the front, you’ll know you have ar­rived.


Fort­num & Ma­son stands for Bri­tish qual­ity, and has done since it opened its doors in 1707. Started by Hugh Ma­son, who had a small store in St James Mar­ket, and Wil­liam Fort­num, a high-class builder, whose fam­ily was re­spon­si­ble for rein­vig­o­rat­ing May­fair in the wake of the Great Fire, the store has cel­e­brated its royal con­nec­tions since its in­cep­tion. Fort­num, a foot­man in Queen Anne’s house­hold, had the idea of sell­ing Queen Anne’s half-used can­dle wax at a profit in Ma­son’s store, an en­ter­pris­ing idea which paved the way for the be­gin­ning of a long-stand­ing and re­spectable busi­ness. In the three cen­turies that fol­lowed Fort­num’s has been known for such land­mark mo­ments as in­vent­ing the Scotch Egg (de­signed to be a handy snack for trav­ellers leav­ing London); be­com­ing a post-of­fice, a ser­vice which ran in-store from 1794 to 1839, when the Gen­eral Post Of­fice was founded; be­com­ing reg­u­lar sup­pli­ers to both roy­alty and sol­diers, in­clud­ing dur­ing the Crimean War and WW1; in­stalling plate glass win­dows, lit by gas in 1840, one of the first build­ings in the country to do this; in­tro­duc­ing Heinz Baked Beans to Bri­tain in 1886; send­ing ham­pers to some of the suf­fragettes im­pris­oned

for break­ing its win­dows in 1911; pro­vid­ing the pro­vi­sions for the first ever Bri­tish Ever­est ex­pe­di­tion in 1922; and adding its now strik­ing clock, with bells from the same foundry as Big Ben, to its red-brick frontage in 1964.


To­day, high­lights of the store’s pi­o­neer­ing ap­proach in­clude its rooftop bee­hives, painted in Fort­num’s dis­tinc­tive eau de nil, al­most twice the height of a nor­mal bee­hive, each with a dis­tinct tri­umphal arch en­trance and cop­per-clad pagoda roofs, and sit­u­ated on the top of the shop, as well at St Pan­cras Sta­tion and Som­er­set House. Honey pro­duced by the bees in the hives is har­vested and sold in an an­nual honey auc­tion. In 2012, Fort­num’s un­veiled its Di­a­mond Ju­bilee Tea Sa­lon, opened by Her Majesty, The Queen in hon­our of her in­cred­i­ble 60 years on the throne. El­e­gant and re­fined, this beau­ti­ful space hosts the store’s renowned af­ter­noon tea, a Bri­tish treat not to be missed. In March, the store launched a brand new range of In­fu­sions, 12 dif­fer­ent flavours which take their in­spi­ra­tion from Fort­num’s fa­mous flavours such as Rose & Vi­o­let, a nod to the beloved hand­made choco­lates, and Camomile and Bee Pollen, pay­ing homage to those bees. Fort­num’s pic­nic ham­pers, which have been a cel­e­brated sta­ple of store for over a cen­tury, are a hero prod­uct for ev­ery sum­mer sea­son. The iconic wick­ers con­tain all the items you need for lux­ury al-fresco din­ing - bone china plates and mugs, stain­less steel cut­lery, wine glasses, flasks, salt and pep­per mills and, of course, a bot­tle opener. Pic­nic rugs, nap­kins and even a table­cloth are also in­cluded. For the feast it­self, each sum­mer sees a new range of fresh items from lob­ster and smoked salmon to pork pies cold sal­ads and fruity desserts.

Don’t miss a chance to pur­chase Fort­num’s Cook Book, ob­vi­ously famed for its in­no­va­tion in food and drink, three cen­turies of Fort­num’s most-delicious se­crets are avail­able for all to try. The book, writ­ten by self-con­fessed Fort­num’s devo­tee, Tom Park­erB-owles, in­cludes recipes for clas­sics such as Welsh Rarebit and Vic­to­ria Sponge, as well as new favourites such as avocado with toasted sour­dough bread and Bloody Mary sauce.


For Fort­num’s, cre­at­ing a sense of plea­sure in the ev­ery­day is key – and this runs through ev­ery­thing the store does, from el­e­vat­ing a cup of tea with a delicious blend, to cre­at­ing spe­cial ham­pers for trav­ellers, sold from their spe­cial Ter­mi­nal 5 con­ces­sion at Heathrow. But it is the Pic­cadilly store where you re­ally get the best sense of his­tory and qual­ity. There are only two main en­trances to the store - the Pic­cadilly en­trance tends to be the busier, as vis­i­tors con­gre­gate to take pic­tures of the fa­mous win­dows be­fore en­ter­ing the store, so head for the qui­eter Duke Street en­trance, which has a friendly door­man on duty to wel­come shop­pers through­out the day. There are lifts lo­cated next to this en­trance too, en­abling you to ac­cess the higher floors eas­ily. To make sure you don’t miss any­thing, start at the bot­tom, and work up­wards. As you would ex­pect from a store that spe­cialises in food and lux­ury din­ing items, each floor has a fo­cus on food and a unique eatery op­tion too. The Lower Ground Floor Food Hall of­fers ev­ery­thing from caviar to those fa­mous Scotch eggs, and even sim­ple day-to-day items, such as pints of milk and loaves of bread. Don’t miss the in­ti­mate Wine Bar, nes­tled within the Food Hall too, a quiet and ex­clu­sive place for a glass of some­thing cold. Up­stairs, the Ground Floor houses a huge se­lec­tion of teas - 168 va­ri­eties to be ex­act - with rare and clas­sic blends avail­able to taste be­fore pur­chase us­ing Steam­punks – the most mod­ern tech­nol­ogy avail­able in tea-tast­ing. Up again, and The Par­lour on the first floor is a truly deca­dent ice cream ex­pe­ri­ence, with ar­ti­san cof­fee, sand­wiches and much-loved ice cream clas­sics and in­no­va­tive, and ex­clu­sive, new flavours. Fur­ther up, and on the third floor you’ll find Fort­num & Ma­son’s Gen­tle­men’s Floor - now home to The 3’6, an in­ti­mate and stylish cock­tail bar, where guests can en­joy ex­cep­tional food and a mem­o­rable cock­tail menu. Tak­ing its name from the cost in old money, per head, of hav­ing Fort­num’s de­liver a cock­tail party in your home – and sit­u­ated in the same 3rd floor lo­ca­tion where cus­tomers once placed such re­quests – the 3’6 Bar com­bines the iconic Pic­cadilly store’s sig­na­ture style with a re­laxed and re­fined home-from-home at­mos­phere. The Gen­tle­men’s Floor is also home to a ded­i­cated in-house bar­ber. Fin­ish your visit by head­ing to their home­wares de­part­ment, and in­dulging in their ex­pertly cu­rated se­lec­tion of tea sets – com­plete with vin­tage teapots and sil­ver­ware, as well as their branded items and Burleigh col­lab­o­ra­tions. A per­fect way to cre­ate the Fort­num’s par­tic­u­lar brand of style and aplomb at home.

Pic­tured left page: Fort­num & Ma­son Pic­cadilly. This page top-bot­tom: Queen El­iz­a­beth II, Camilla Duchess of Corn­wall and Cather­ine Duchess of Cam­bridge visit Fort­num and Ma­son, Di­a­mond Ju­bilee Tea Sa­lon and Fort­num & Ma­son ham­pers and food dis­play.

Pic­tured above: His­toric Board­room above the shop. Be­low left-right; Fort­num & Ma­son Pic­cadilly crest and their ground floor in­te­ri­ors.

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