If you’ve ever been to one of our venues, you’ll probably have noticed we have a decanter or two… well, more than 1,000 actually. Your heard us right – we’ve amassed more than 1,000 antique glass decanters for our six venues across London, and they were all individually purchased by Lady Lovejoy, our founder / owner Claire Lawson’s octogenarian mother, from charity and antique shops across Scotland.
The project started when we took a lease on Banking Hall in the City in 2014. The team salvaged a beautiful art deco bar from the preexisting restaurant housed in 14 Cornhill and relocated it to the counting room. Claire wanted to decorate the bar with a couple of decanters filled with different-coloured spirits. Lady Lovejoy (named after Lovejoy, the 1980s British soap opera about an antiques dealer) offered to source some in her local town in Aberdeenshire.
“She emailed saying she’d found two, one was £14, and one was £12,” recalled Claire. “We then told her the budget is £10 per decanter. She went back and haggled with them and secured the deal.” The decanters were filled with spirits and decorated the Banking Hall bar.
Once we leased the opulent Victorian Bath House in the City, our head of operations Jason Capper suggested adding a decanter wall, housing rows of bespoke infused spirits in antique decanters. “But we couldn’t afford designer decanters every time, so we talked to my mother and she agreed to turn her passion for shopping into something more than a hobby!”
Over the past four years, Lady Lovejoy, a retired school secretary, has scoured Aberdeenshire for decanters. She started in charity shops in her local town of Huntley and then moved to nearby Elgin and Aberdeen. She’s also been given decanters by friends who no longer used them. And she’s even enlisted other family members – her cousin started looking around her local area in Banchory. In that time Lady Lovejoy has amassed more than 1,000 decanters which are carefully packaged up and sent down to London in batches. She continues to stick within the budget of £10 a decanter, bartering and haggling as she goes.
As the company grows – we have multiple venue launches on the horizon – the need for more decanters grows. From starting as a prop to decorate one bar, the extraordinary decanters – all of which are individual and unique – have become one of Camm & Hooper’s hallmarks.
We’re a company with nostalgia at our core. When Claire opened the Tanner Warehouse events space in Bermondsey in 2013, she worked to restore the space to its former glory as both a chocolate factory and a tannery. “That element of nostalgia and tradition is already intertwined with the business,” she says. “So rescuing hundreds of decanters and bringing them back to their former glory fits well with us.”