Welcome to letter F and to this year’s Theme:
The Glories of Tea With Stepheny
If you drink tea then you recognize the name Fortnum and Mason. I have stood on Piccadilly Street in London waiting for the mechanical clock to strike the hour when Fortnum and Mason come out their two doors, bow to one another, then return indoors. If you are unfamiliar with this name, there is always time for a story, don’t you think?
Once upon a time, William Fortnum was a footman in the household of Queen Anne. The royal family’s insistence on having new candles every night resulted in large amounts of half-used wax, which Fortnum resold for a tidy profit. The enterprising Fortnum also had a sideline business as a grocer. He convinced his landlord, Hugh Mason, to be his associate, and they founded the first Fortnum & Mason store in Mason’s small shop in St James’s Market in 1707. In 1761, William Fortnum’s grandson Charles went into the service of Queen Charlotte and the affiliation with the royal court led to an increase in business.
In 1902, Fortnum’s tea came to boast a Royal pedigree thanks to a blend specially created for King Edward VII. Whether single-origin teas, rare varieties, home-grown blends or contemporary infusions, Fortnum’s tea is still poured today. Today, Fortnum & Mason is an upmarket department store in Piccadilly, London, with additional stores at St Pancras railway station and Heathrow Airport in London, as well as various stockists worldwide. Today, it is privately owned by Wittington Investments.
“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.”
― Bill Watterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book