● The word ‘hamper’ comes from the French word ‘hanapier’, meaning ‘a case for goblets’. The humble hamper was first brought to England by William the Conqueror, in the eleventh century. William’s French troops appreciated a glass of burgundy with their venison, but there was none to be had in Hastings. So William had his hooch shipped over in wicker baskets for his men.
● The tradition of giving hampers as gifts began in the Victorian period. Wealthy families would put together a basket of food and drink and present it to their staff members at Christmas.
● During the Crimean War, Queen Victoria sent Fortnum & Mason’s beef tea to Florence Nightingale, to nourish her patients, and First World War troops received all kinds of parcels, including one of 500 Christmas puddings.
● With the invention of the car, some hamper baskets included tea kettles and burners. This allowed travellers to stop along the journey and have a calming hot beverage.