Down an unassuming street, off Tottenham Court Road, amongst the bars and restaurants, you will find Treadwell’s bookshop. It’s difficult to categorise Treadwell’s as just a bookshop, because from first stepping through the doorway, it is obvious that it’s so much more. “This is the all-surpassing Lady Wisdom, who with her right hand penetrates the East, with her left hand the West, and who embraces the whole Earth.” So writes Michael Maier in his 1617 alchemical work, ‘Atalanta Fugiens’. A fitting patron spirit then, for Treadwell’s to adopt. Because at its core, it is a place of spiritual learning, discovery, exploration and tolerance.
I first learned of Treadwell’s about 18 months ago, but I only plucked up the courage to actually visit the shop fairly recently (I have been a regular now for 3 months or so and have met some wonderful people). When I first visited, I actually hung around outside, concerned with what I might find within. What would they be like? What would they make of me and my questions? My worries were of course completely unfounded. I had become over anxious with an irrational fear of what a stockest of occult books might be like, and I greatly regret now not visiting sooner, as it has become a favourite haunt of mine after work.
This might sound rather cliché, but when I first stepped inside Treadwell’s, it just felt like home. Warm, relaxing, comfortable and welcoming. These feelings are created by the soothing low music, the dragons blood incense, perfect lighting and most importantly, the friendly staff. I can’t emphasis enough how brilliant the staff are. Treadwell’s could be in a warehouse or a market stall and it wouldn’t matter, because all the people I have met who work there, have been wonderfully welcoming, knowledgeable and friendly.
I feel I have to expand on the staff at Treadwell’s a little more, because they are a hugely important part of what makes it so special. Treadwell’s Books was founded and is run by Christina Oakley Harrington, who clearly has a loving passion for the exploration of knowledge within paganism and wider spirituality. It is to Christina’s credit that she has created a working environment that has attracted devoted staff, who share her love and passion for the shop. It is more akin to a family than a team of colleagues, and it is that relationship that has made Treadwell’s the incredible place that it is.
Treadwell’s has a huge stock of books on subjects as diverse as traditional religion, history, folklore, magic, divination, spiritualism and contemporary culture. They also stock rarer books and regularly refresh their stock, with a larger collection online. They have a large apothecary section and also stock a number of magical items for spellwork and ritual.
Like many independent bookshops, Treadwell’s offer a host of other functions beyond book selling. They have a very vibrant (and often sell out) programme of talks, classes and workshops. In addition, they host book launches and even music events. They can also offer a unique space for hire for corporate meetings or private events, and are a great choice for a film or TV bookshop location.
At the beginning of this article I said it is difficult to categorise Treadwell’s as just a bookshop. This is a place of discovery, where you are made to feel incredibly welcome and have your questions answered. They are a hub for a community of spiritual explorers, and you will find many leaflets and postings on a whole host of exciting topics. So step in, enjoy the atmosphere and have a chat with Christina and her wonderful team. As bookshops go, this one is simply magical.
Look out for Christina, joining me on the Words & Sound podcast for Phoenix FM very soon.
Treadwell’s Bookshop, 33 Store Street WC1E 7BS, London
Hours: 11-7pm weekdays | 12-7pm Saturday and Sunday
Telephone: 020 7419 8507