London icon Fortnum & Mason opened its first new UK store in 307 years on Friday, marking an important day in the history of one of London’s most famous, long-standing and influential food shops.
The store is obviously tiny in comparison to the Piccadilly original, but stocks a variety of teas, jams and confectionery, as well as allowing customers to order gift hampers. Their mini ‘hamperlings’ are a nice touch: two teas to go, packaged with scones and clotted cream, ideal for a train journey.
At the back of the store is a small restaurant which serves breakfast from 6.30am-11am, and all-day dining options from then on. Afternoon tea is also available, priced at £29 for sandwiches, scones, pastries and a pot of tea - this will no doubt be popular with tourists.
Fortnum & Mason chief executive, Ewan Venters said in an opening statement, "St Pancras is London's Grand Central Station”, and interestingly also that, “we feel the centre of gravity in London is moving north and east from Piccadilly”.
Fortnum & Mason was started in 1707 by William Fortnum and Hugh Mason, with the shop originally selling teas, spices, snuff and exotic foods. In 1738, the store is credited with creating and selling the world’s first scotch eggs, and in 1886 it became the first place in the UK to sell baked beans, after receiving a visit from a young entrepreneurial American by the name of Mr Heinz.
More recently, Fortnum & Mason made the headlines in 2011 for creating the world’s largest scotch egg (6.95kg, based around an ostrich egg), and again last year when the Queen paid a visit to open up the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. They’ve received more negative attention of late at the hands of animal rights group PETA UK who object to the shop selling foie gras, despite claiming to have high animal welfare standards.