A fairly new shop has opened in York, and I love it. It’s like Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, but for grown-ups. Or at least for those of us children masquerading as grown-ups.
Despite already being wrapped up in the magic of trotting through the past as you wander along York’s twisting, medieval streets, when you come across The Imaginarium you can’t help but pause. The gleaming gold carousel horse in the window makes the child in you say STOP. That’s quite far enough. We’re not going another step until you let me go inside. The giant hare in the other window whispers an invitation to you to jump down the rabbit hole so, with a quick glance to either side in case you’re never seen again, you step inside.
The interior is both beautiful and enchanting; full of shadows, treasures and jewel-like colours. Like Alice in Wonderland, you can’t help but skip between displays, gasping in delight and coveting everything you see. The paraphernalia associated with the science of magic and the fictive fantasy of it is everywhere, inviting you to lose yourself in the world of The Imaginarium. Glass bottles for potions, bell jars for displaying specimens, candles, incense and antique books, ornaments both utilitarian and decorative of toads, snails, owls and toadstools, ferns bursting through the walls as if an enchanted forest is trying to break through from the other side. Ibride’s theriocephaly trays adorn one wall, creatures caught half-way through enchantment, and sculpted human hands reach through to hold out silk scarves for your perusal.
There’s a wide spectrum of prices, with items for sale ranging from gift cards to unique sculptures, so you’ll be able to afford something whatever your budget. With a wedding to pay for I had to draw the line at paying £600 for one of Mr. Finch’s giant toadstools (I will be back one day though, never you fear). I was particularly enamoured of the potion bottles with labels like Aphrodisiac, Love Potion No. 9, A Solution for Everything, Joy Undiluted and Elixir of Youth (I would fill them unimaginatively with alcohol, obviously, but they’d make a great talking point when brought out during a Night Circus style dinner-party.) The miniature bell jars also took my fancy, and I loved these snail sugar-caddies.
The staff are lovely, and ever so well turned out (I wish I could wear a velvet jacket to work).
If you find yourself in York, do make sure you pay a visit to The Imaginarium. Get lost for half an hour, and purchase something magical that will make you smile every time you see it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
You might also like: