Just the directions alone tell you something about Catherine's:
Heading into Darlington on Route 161 in Harford County, you immediately pass Mom's Restaurant on the right. (No kidding, it's really called Mom's.) Then you go past the Friends Meeting House, then past the Forest Hill State Bank and on the next corner you come to Catherine's.
L You can't miss it. It's got the British flag flying outside.
If it sounds like you've gone back in time at least a couple of generations if not centuries, that's just the way downtown Darlington feels. And in fact it was declared a historic district two years ago because the village itself has hardly changed in appearance in 100 years.
At Catherine's, it's not Tory sympathy but a passion for all the lacy, ornate and romantic things of the Victorian era that inspires both the flag and the shop.
"We fly the English flag because we love English things," says June Griffith, who runs the shop along with her partner Catherine Sachse, a teacher at Youth's Benefit School in Fallston.
The shop is filled with Victorian furniture, linens, lace and cutwork curtains, antique reproduction jewelry, Floris perfumes from England, handmade hats and clothing made in an old-fashioned romantic style. There are framed prints, baskets, dried flower wreaths, assorted English teas, English teapots, cups and saucers, English biscuits plus jams and jellies.
And then there are baby gifts including quilts and books, Victorian figures for the garden, gardening books, cookbooks and books on tea, poetry and Victorian design.
"I like to think of it as looking like my grandmother's house in the age when they had beautiful linens and lace collars," Mrs. Griffith says.
The partners do custom gift baskets, often with such things as tea, antique china, books and bath oils. And if they know someone is coming to the shop, they'll offer them a complimentary English-style tea.
Catherine's is in a building that dates to the early 1700s and was once a stagecoach stop, a tavern and the tavernkeeper's home. Today the building also houses the Darlington Country Store next door to Catherine's and, upstairs, B & B Designs, the studio of interior designers Beverly Jones and Betty Reeves.
Mrs. Griffith first came to Darlington seven years ago when she opened the Darlington Country Store along with a partner, Jan Peacher. There they sell primitive country furniture and accessories. Two years later Mrs. Griffith and her husband Bill bought the building and then moved to Darlington to be nearby.
A little over three years later she opened Catherine's along with Ms. Sachse. "She was my daugther's sixth-grade teacher. And that was many years ago because my daughter is now a lawyer. But I had her over for lunch one day -- we had cauliflower soup -- and we've been friends ever since. We have a love of antiques in common," Mrs. Griffith says.
Catherine's is located at 2101 Shursville Road in Darlington. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays to Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The shop is usually closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but it's occasionally open those days by chance. The telephone number is (301) 838-0198.