Fortnum and Mason

A Victorian ghost wearing a stove pipe hat has been seen here. He is described as a "chilling, malevolent presence" and his presence has caused some people to leave their jobs here.

Link: The Londonist

Update 14/9/20: Richard Thrussell of the customer services team informs me that nothing has been seen recently, but did provide the store's archivist's notes:

"Our VM manager occasionally has to work in here late at night, and he really doesn't like it. He reports the door shutting noisily on its own, creaking floorboards when he is absolutely still, and guttering lights. Might be the ghost of Walter Thornton Smith, who was responsible for the decor in this room – or one imported from Telscombe Manor, from where most of the panelling comes.

The 6th Floor: The stove-hatted gentleman – appears on the Jermyn Street side of the business, dressed like a Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Believe he was a stonemason, William Francis, who was killed in a shocking accident in 1844 while working on a building on the corner of Jermyn Street and Duke Street. The most malevolent of our ghosts – several security guards have quit as a result of meeting him. It's possible that the young man is resentful of his untimely death, its violence, and how his body was mutilated in the fall.

The Duke Street Staircase/ 4th Floor: The Lady in Grey, commonly identified with Anne Fortnum, died in the apartment above the shop in 1847. She was the spinster sister of Richard Fortnum, the owner of the store, who died soon after her. She never married and suffered from acute bronchitis most of her adult life. Legend has it that her swain died in the Napoleonic Wars, and she haunted the stairs after her death, looking for him, although there might be another explanation. She left a large fortune, all of it to her nieces. Two of these married, in succession, their cousin Charles Drury Edward Fortnum, who used their fortunes to reinvent himself as a collector of art and antiquities, and to climb the social ladder. It's possible Miss Fortnum rather regretted her nieces' marriages, and cannot leave her home.

3rd Floor: Young architect fell to his death from this floor during the rebuilding, 1929. Haunts the stockroom, occasionally on the floor.

2nd Floor: Poltergeist. Moves heavy objects around – is always moving the soaps overnight, much to the annoyance of the staff. Have on CCTV a shape of a figure (male) at 3 am – on one occasion, threw a large and extremely heavy large crystal globe across the floor. This pest has been doing his night time moving since the 1950s. New staff don't believe old-timers when they first start working on the floor, but after a few weeks of having to put everything in its right place in the morning, they are convinced.

1st Floor: The chef – cutlery, pots and pans fly about. Maybe Marcel Boulestin?

Ground Floor: Gaius Backholer, head grocery shopman – 1909-1946. Beloved by King of Norway, but a real martinet. Goods that are not stacked properly are either re-arranged correctly, moved to another part of the floor, or are dashed to the ground to be found in the morning.

Lower Ground: The Pushing Ghost. Those susceptible to spirits report that they have a sensation of being pushed out of the way, towards the Crypt. Seems especially to dislike the cleaning staff, and can exert a considerable amount of pressure. Small members of staff are especially wary of this one.

The typists in the cupboard. In what was the archive artefact cupboard, behind the Deli Counter, conversation and typing can be heard after 10 pm. When the door is knocked, they carry on talking and typing. The room was used during WW2 as an office – so maybe the ghosts of those sheltering from the Blitz?

Crypt: A chill descends in the night in the Crypt. It is thought this is the ghost of John Mason, co-owner of the business, who died of a heart attack in the store in September 1837. He never married and had no family, so we think he doesn't want to leave the building that was his home as well as his business."


Click here to go to my Ghost Location page