November 15 2009
“I’m a ‘Christma-holic’,” giggles Coral Farr, owner of Cherubim on London’s Fulham Road, which specialises in Christmas. Cherubim provided many of the accessories that adorn Nigella Lawson’s Christmas cookbook, and Farr is an art director so the store is a visual feast. “It’s so cluttered; there’s an intake of breath when people walk in,” says Farr. “You can’t put a pin between the products.”
Cherubim has been part of the Fulham landscape for 26 years. Farr’s original shop across the road was so popular that coaches stopped on the way back from Harrods to Southend or Brighton. Her obsession began when, aged four, she spent her pocket money on a tinsel fairy. “I was fascinated but we didn’t have much money, so baubles were treasured.” Today, Farr sells an array of fairies from bridal Barbie-types with marabou wings (£15.95) to The Sweetie Fairy (£42).
Farr specialises in wares that are decidedly British: Victorian cake decorations (£8.95), stockings made from vintage brocade curtains (£19.50), Christmas brooches (from £15), Suffolk Puff place settings (£15.95) and antique Bakelite-handled sandwich knives and cake forks in their original boxes (from £23). She also sells vintage-style cards, gift tags and advent calendars. With Help the Aged, she finds elderly people to knit eccentric gifts from woolly cupcakes (£7.95) to Christmas-pudding tea cosies (£12.95). “A taxi driver wore one as a hat one December. He sent so many people here,” she chuckles.
Naturally, the shop is a child’s paradise. “I’m now seeing the children who spent their pocket money in here bringing in their own kids,” says Farr. Bestsellers range from Shaker-style fabric decorations (snowmen, ice skates, soldiers, toadstools and candy canes, at £2.95) to the white feathery owls in all sizes that perch on every display (from £8.99).
“There’s lots for men too. Farmers love these,” says Farr, producing a porcelain fox milk jug (£15.95) and a butter dish with a handsome pheasant handle (£18.50). She shows me handkerchiefs printed with pigeons or rabbits (£3.95), retro tins that contained Bird’s Custard, Baldwin’s Nervous Pills and Wild Woodbine Cigarettes (£3.95), wooden teddies (£3) and vintage wind-up tin cockerels (from £15).
“My Christmas tree inspired the shop,” says Farr. “People used to come to see my decorations.” Indeed, when it comes to the tree, Cherubim stocks everything from felt gingerbread men (£3.50) and beaded dragonflies (£3.95) to glass birds (£2.99) and tiny cinnamon-scented brooms. “I’m not called Glitter & Twisted for nothing,” laughs Farr.