With the establishment of the ritual of afternoon tea in the 19th century, a full and complete tea service for those who could afford it would have included a spirit kettle and stand. Originally introduced to the tea service in the 17th century, kettles fell out of use with the introduction of the tea urn in 1760 which was seen as more practical to refill the larger teapots. By the 19th century however, their popularity resurged due to the discovery of odourless spirits, such as camphorine, that could be used in the burner to keep the water hot.
Hancocks was established in 1849 by Charles Frederick Hancock. Quickly gaining eminence it was awarded with the Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria only a year later and in 1856, the firm was entrusted with the making of the Victoria Cross which, along with the many prizes won at the Great World fairs, served to strengthen their reputation, gaining commissions from Royal patrons worldwide.
When Charles Frederick retired, the firm passed to his sons and business partners Horatio Stewart and Henry John Dore. Dore was vital to the continuing success of the business which still trades today from the prestigious Burlington arcade in London.