Fortnum & Mason, London 1957
This delightful image of a hot air balloon soaring over a mews was on the front cover of a 1952 menu for the famous Fortnum & Mason department store in Piccadilly, London.
Co-founder William Fortnum started out as a footman in the household of Queen Anne (1665-1714) and the Royal family’s insistence on having new candles every night resulted in large amounts of half-used wax being left over, which the intrepid Fortnum resold.
Fortnum also had an interest in groceries and he and his landlord and business associate Hugh Mason founded the first Fortnum & Mason store in 1707. By the late 18th century, the store was renowned for its exotic imported foods, brought in by the East India Company.
More than 300 years after it was founded, this iconic British brand remains internationally renowned today for its tea blends and luxury foodstuffs and its gourmet food baskets are shipped worldwide.
Its main store in Piccadilly is a must-visit for any tourist to England’s capital, especially at Christmas when the decorations are breathtaking, and there are additional stores and restaurants at St Pancras International rail station, Heathrow Airport’s T5 and in Hong Kong.
Fortnum’s, as it is colloquially known, holds two Royal Warrants granted by the late Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles as grocer and teas and provisions merchant.
For people unfamiliar with the term mews: in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, grand mansions were built for aristocratic families in areas of London such as Kensington, Belgravia, Mayfair and Hyde Park.
Buildings were erected on these cobbled streets or mews to allow wealthy families to stable their horses and store their carriages. Above the stables would be rooms that would accommodate maids and other servants.
These mews houses are now highly desirable properties in London and command multi-million pound prices.
Each order includes a print of the interior menu.
All printed in USA.