ortnum & Mason has held a number of warrants dating back over nearly 150 years. On March 2nd, 1863 we were appointed Grocers to HRH the Prince of Wales; on April 1st, 1867 Oilmen to their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein; October 5th, 1867 Furnishers to the Establishment of HRH the Crown Princess of Prussia, Princess Royal of Great Britain and Ireland; December 12th, 1867 Confectioners and Foreign Warehousemen to HRH the Princess of Wales; June 8th, 1887 Foreign Warehousemen to HRH the Prince of Wales; July 16th Purveyors of Oilery to HM the Queen.
To qualify for application of a Royal Warrant, a company must have supplied the Warrant Grantor with goods over a period of at least three years. An application is then lodged for consideration at the annual meeting of the Royal Household Tradesmen's Warrants Committee. Consideration is given to the quality of goods provided and the standard of service. If the committee agrees with the application, a recommendation is made to the head of the relevant household. The final decision is made by the appropriate member of the Royal Family. The Warrant is normally granted for ten years, after which it is automatically reviewed. The grantee must, however, re-register on an annual basis.
1930s - NY, Cowes and Maharajas
In response to massive demand for our goods across the pond, in 1931 Fortnum's took a magnificent seven-storey building on Madison Avenue, grander even than its London alma mater - though in the time between conception and execution the Depression had begun to bite, making it a star that burned brightly but all too briefly.
At a rather shorter aeroplane ride from London, the annual Cowes branch operated its own motorboat to ferry goods free of charge to guests at Cowes Week.
King George V's Jubilee in 1935 drew so many princes and potentates from all corners of the Empire that Fortnum & Mason, having long imported the best from all the continents, created a special department to accommodate their dietary requirements. To whom else might one possibly have turned?
WW2 - A mainstay of the Officers' Mess since before Wellington, Fortnum's opened a special Officers' Department dedicated to providing a respite from bully beef. As well as comestibles it dealt in insect powder, exotic cigarettes and anything else the modern soldier might require, such as an EPNS tip for a bayonet (so much more elegant for spreading Gentlemen's Relish at El Alamein) and the “Spork”, the combination knife-and fork which, naturally, came silver-plated.
Arbiters of decorum even in wartime, the company also patented the ”Fortknee', a short stocking to cover the knees and lower thighs of lady drivers in the services.
1964 saw a new landmark added to the front of the store – the famous Fortnum's clock, with bells from the same foundry as Big Ben. Every fifteen minutes a selection of airs is played on eighteen bells, and once an hour Messrs F&M themselves appear to check that standards are being upkept.
The new Fresh Food Floor and Wine Bar, 1707, is now open.
Now Fortnum's Food Hall has expanded onto two floors for the first time, there's a greater variety of fabulous fresh food than ever before. We can’t imagine anyone asking for more.
It features fresh vegetables, fish, poultry, meat, cheese, charcuterie and even flowers. Hot sausage and mustard? Certainly. Cold jelly and custard, on the other hand, is thankfully beyond the new department's remit.
For three centuries Fortnum's has been committed to bringing the world's best food to Piccadilly – often from continents away. Fresh food, though, has always come from as close to these Isles as possible. Respecting this hemisphere's seasons has always seemed obvious to us: we've never really wavered from the path.
We take extraordinary care over the origins of everything we sell. Every sprout, lobster, truckle and rib comes direct from suppliers we know intimately rather than from markets. If we’re not to uphold our own standards, who is?