#ThrowbackThursday: Fortnum & Mason, the grand dame of department stores

#ThrowbackThursday: Fortnum & Mason, the grand dame of department stores

Quintessentially British

Text: Vimidamini Haridasan

Long before Harrods, there was Fortnum and Mason

For over 300 years, one of the world's oldest departmental stores has managed to reinvent itself and deliver each generation a destination in which consumers were able to revel in luxury. They still serve the afternoon teas that nobility used to fill the void between lunch and dinner. They also outdo themselves year after year with captivating window displays at Christmas. It is no wonder then that the shopping destination has brought several firsts to the world. We take a look at the time when the store presented Britain with several firsts.

1.     Fortnum's clock

Since 1964, the store's Piccadilly frontage has hosted the Fortnum's clock. With eighteen bells created by the same foundry as the Big Ben, Fortnum and Mason appear at every hour to greet customers and of course keep an eye on their brainchild.


2.     Scotch egg

Fortnum & Mason boast about having invented this unusual concoction to help travellers with their meals back in 1738. Like something out of an Epic Meal Time episode, the egg was hard boiled first before being wrapped in sausage meat. Covering this odd pairing was a generous dusting of fried breadcrumbs. Fast-forward to 2015 and the Scotch egg is still a popular item that has even been recreated by Jamie Oliver.

3.     First British Everest expedition

The first ever British Expedition saw the department store send some 60 tins of quail in foie gras and 48 bottles of champagne to the explorers. How else is one to scale the summit of the highest peak in the world without some bubbly?


4.     King George's Jubilee Celebration

When a reigning monarch reaches a milestone in their tenure, the whole nation is roped in for the celebrations. In 1935, Fortnum & Mason had the privilege of serving the royal dignitaries from abroad with meals that suited their culture and dietary requirements.

5.     Baked Beans

Fortnum & Mason may harvest their own honey now, but back in 1886, a young entrepreneur approached the store with his product, which of course was immediately snapped up. The man in question? Mr Heinz. While it may not seem like much today, the store saw the potential of the product and introduced it to Britain.