It’s a familiar assembly of ingredients. But have you even leaned over your plate and stopped to wonder who invented the full English breakfast?

It started with the Victorian middle classes. Wishing to impress their guests, they looked back to how the landed aristocracy had long impressed visitors.

From the Middle Ages onwards, the gentry flaunted the meats from their estates at the breakfast table.

Aspiring Victorians sought to do the same. But instead of roaming their demesne with a shotgun, they’d just send their servants along to the local butchers.

As the 19th century progressed the dish filtered down to the rest of us squalid individuals. By the 1950s, about half the population of these islands began their day with a fry-up.

Some Victorian breakfast foods fell by the wayside. Pheasant, tongue, kidney, pig’s cheek, pork pie and halibut no longer feature.

But the ingredients that remain form a national treasure that has outlived an empire. Our classic combination of back bacon, sausage, eggs and toast is renowned across the world.

Andy Warhol famously said that no amount of money could buy the president a better can of pop than the one drunk by the tramp on the street. And the same has applied to the full English.

For years, whether in a five-star hotel or greasy spoon, you would have been served much the same thing.

But recently standards have been declining. I learn all this from Guise Bule, chairman of the English Breakfast Society.

With a job title like that you might expect a bulbous, eccentric twit, bulging his way out of a colourful pair of cords.

On the contrary, Guise is a tall, sophisticated CEO and former RAF officer in his early 40s, currently working in Los Angeles.

Guise founded the English Breakfast Society because he was alarmed that a centuries-old tradition was under threat from poor preparation and ingredients.

One of his chief grumbles is the introduction of the hash brown.

He told me over Skype “the hash brown is controversial. A lot of cafes have started to introduce it as filler.”

But he insists it has no place in a traditional breakfast: “It’s cheap and American. We at the society call it out as such. The hash brown ” he adds with a frown, “is almost as bad as chips.”

Guise also insists that breakfast is a meal that can be eaten at any time of day or night. I’ve heard of inviting dream guest to dinner parties. So who would sit around the table at Guise’s dream breakfast?

“Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde” he replies without any hesitation. “Winston because he got drunk at breakfast.”

“And Oscar because he seemed convinced that people who were interested in breakfast were boring. I’d like to change his mind on that subject.”

Guise has my vote. It’s a Full English for supper tonight. And hash browns are definitely off the menu.