Tales from the Crypt
Our iconic Piccadilly store is said to be haunted by five troublesome spirits.
Mr Gaius Backholder
Mr Gaius Backholder is the Phantom of the Bottle. Mr Backholder once ran our Grocery Department with a rod of iron for over 50 years. Now the poltergeist of the Wine Crypt, one of the original rooms in our Piccadilly store, he’s often throwing glass bottles from the shelves. The Wine Crypt is a subterranean room filled with antique furniture and bottles, with walls that hold the memories of centuries. In a way, we’re rather fond of Mr Backholder, we feel he’s trying to maintain standards of replenishment! The Wine Crypt is also available to book for private dinners if you don’t mind old Gaius hanging around.
The Grey Lady
Our Grey Lady gracefully floats up and down the red-carpeted Duke Street staircases. Incredibly sad and silent, this is the spirit of Anne Fortnum, who is buried at Highgate cemetery, and also the great-great niece of Mr William Fortnum. Living on our 1st floor staircase, Anne is preoccupied and doesn’t engage with anyone (so don’t worry about passing her) wearing her crinoline dress she is mourning the love of her life, a soldier who died in 1847.
The Devilish Dandy perhaps lost his way after a stroll to a St James’s Club some two centuries ago. He’s a Victorian ghost who is still looking for his cigars and wine, but cannot seem to find the exit. There was a time when our Duke Street stairs were only ever used by men. They came to discuss their wine cellars and pick up their daily quota of cigars. If you spot him, please direct him to the nearest exit, not to the Wine Crypt!
The Stove-Hatted Gentleman, if we can call him a gentleman, roams our Head Offices. He exudes a chilling, malevolent air and isn’t too friendly to the male species. Several security guards have resigned after encountering him in the small hours. In the 1840s/1850s, there was a murder and a suicide on Jermyn Street and the man in the black coat with whiskers is said to be connected to these events. This is one ghost you don’t want to bump into.
The Shivering Chef
As friendly as he looks, the Shivering Chef is far from it, wandering through our kitchens late at night, he searches for his past culinary triumphs. During the Edwardian era, his Welsh rarebit was unfairly criticised, and sadly he ended it all. Our chefs are continuing to serve this deliciously comforting dish today, but think twice before criticising it, as he might pay a visit to your table.