William Fortnum became a footman in the Royal Palace of Queen Anne in 1707. Mr Fortnum ran a small grocery business in addition to working at the palace. Fortnum raised some cash by selling the queens used candles to the ladies of the palace and convinced his Landlord Hugh Mason to help start a new business.
‘Fortnum and Mason’ was opened in Piccadilly. Fortnum used his position at the Palace to attract customers- the store flourished. Mason also established Masons Stables on Duke Street.
William Fortnum’s grandson, Charles, went into the service of Queen Anne in 1761. Once again the connection with the Palace brought business to Fortnum and Mason which continued to grow and increase profits. The Napoleonic wars saw many servicemen order Fortnum and Mason supplies, proving another massive boost to business. Fortnum and Mason’s ready prepared meals became extremely popular under the reign of Queen Victoria. The rich Royal tradition allowed Fortnum and Mason to display the Royal seal of approval on many of its products.
In 1964 the Fortnum and Mason store built a huge clock- complete with chimes and replicas of the original William Fortnum and Hugh Masons bowing to each other. The clock weighs more than four tonnes!
Fortnum and Mason now have a reputation for selling the finest luxury goods and sparing no expense to bring quality to those who can afford it.