London’s oldest food store, Fortnum & Mason (F&M), is named after its founders, the Queen Anne’s servant William Fortnum and his landlord Hugh Mason. It was established more than three centuries ago, in 1707. Back then, F&M was just a small grocery shop. But thanks to Fortnum’s connection to the royal court, the business quickly grew.
F&M has always specialised in “high-end” products. It provided the British aristocrats with spices, exotic fruits, lobsters, caviar, and other rare and expensive items. Legend has it that Charles Dickens liked to reward himself with F&M goodies whenever he finished writing a novel.
F&M supplies high-quality food to the British monarchy to this day. That doesn’t mean that ordinary citizens cannot come to the store. But to most people, F&M is more of a museum than a shop. The five-storey building is located at the heart of London, at 181 Piccadilly. Chic neo-Georgian architecture, grand window displays, and the mechanical façade clock attract visitors from around the globe. Along with Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace, F&M is an iconic tourist spot in London.
If you go inside the store, you will be met by gentlemen in red tailcoats, addressed as “sir” or “madam”, and feel like royalty yourself. You will see hundreds of tourists eyeing counters with mouth-watering delicacies and desserts. In the end, you probably won’t be able to resist and will buy the famous F&M biscuits (small British cookies) in a signature turquoise (bluish-green) tin — something you can then enjoy for weeks, just like Charles Dickens.