A piece of England in Dunlap

Adam Larck
Jackie Gillam poses with some of the recent China of the royal couple that Fairchild’s received.

Hidden away in downtown Dunlap is Fairchild’s and Her Majesty’s English Tea Room, a business owned by Jackie and Jerry Gillam.

The Gillams started the business as just Fairchild’s in 1983 in Peoria before moving to Dunlap in 1999.

“We just love everything from England, and it just seemed natural,” Jackie said. “We always wanted to be on our own and work together. We’re the quintessential mom and pop business, and we’re never retiring, you can quote me. We just keep coming back.”

When the pair moved to Dunlap, they originally moved into the Old Bicycle Inn, where Not Your Average Joe is currently located. However, after moving in, the building across the street became available, allowing the Gillam’s to open a tea room in addition to Fairchild’s.

“We always wanted to be in the food business,” Jackie said.

The pair also owned a garden shop next door, but decided to close it down and build onto their building to accommodate everything in one building.

England on display

Stepping into Fairchild’s may have you wondering if you have taken a trip to England itself.

The walls of the shop are lined with clothing and accessories from England.  There are rugby shirts, Guinness shirts, hats and more for people to search through. Jackie also said that the store may be the only one left in Illinois that carries Barbour coats, which carries three royal warrants.

“There are 500 royal warrants,” she said. “It’s an insignia given out either by Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince Philip and they’ll probably give one out to Kate and William. There are three different warrants that those people have, and any product that the royal family uses and endorses are given a warrant.”

Also carried in the store are various T-shirts saying “Kilt Inspector,” because, as Jackie put it, “We love kilts.”

Rounding out the clothing choices is a section of clothing for plus-size women.

“We have really beautiful things for bigger gals,” she said.

Fairchild’s also carries English jewelry and groceries, including Flake and Crunchy candy bars, which Jackie said are the top two candy bars in England.

Another item that will catch visitor’s attention is a fairy cottage that Jerry built. The cottage is based around English fairy tales.

Being a tea room, the store has an entire section of scone mixes and teas, including every kind of Yorkshire Gold, the Queen’s tea.

However, what may take up most of the store are pieces of China.

“Everywhere you look, you’ll see more China,” Jackie said.

The China includes commemorative pieces of the Queen and Queen Mum, along with tea pots that recently came in of the royal couple.

“The Brits really know how to do China,” she said.

Also decorating the store are various letters from the royal family that the Gillams have received throughout the years.

“We’re kind of addicted,” Jackie said. “We write to the royal family all the time. We’ve been working on a cookery book of our most requested recipes in the tearoom and lavish photographs. Our publishers have told us, ‘We know you have these letters from the royal family, but we want a letter mentioning your book, so if we decide to publish you we can put it on the jacket.’ So, we have a nice letter from Harry and a nice one from Prince William.”

Tea time

From Wednesday-Saturday, the Gillams also operate Her Majesty’s English Tea Room, which serves tea once a day at 11 a.m. They only do one sitting so that people do not feel rushed.

Reservations are required for tea, as the scones, sandwiches, teas and more are made specifically for reservations.

Also, whenever people come for tea, there is one unique feature that happens.

“When people come to tea, everybody wears a tiara that are copies of the royal ones,” Jackie said.

She added that crowns are available for men.

High Tea starts off with a fruity tea, followed by a pot of Queen’s tea and a dessert tea. There are also various other types of tea time that can be ordered instead for children.

The tea room seats about 32 people, with the back section fitting another 15. There is also an old ‘57 Austin taxi that can be sat in for pictures and tea. However, it did not use to be just for show.

“I used to drive it around town,” Jackie said. “It took me forever to learn how to drive stick and clutch backwards.”

The tea room is also open for fundraisers for churches and other organizations. The fundraisers need at least 30 people, but $5 is donated back per person.

“The fundraisers are fun,” Jackie said. “For us, it gets in a whole group of people that may normally not be, and they can raise money in a way that’s fun.”

She added that various Dunlap churches have hosted fundraisers there in the past.

The royal wedding

On Friday, when Prince William and Kate Middleton marry in England, the Gillams will be enjoying the festivities, even if they are not where they really want to be.

“We were in the lottery for the wedding, but obviously we didn’t make it,” Jackie said. “Now we’re in a lottery from Yorkshire Gold Tea, the tea that the Queen drinks, to win a camping space out on the lawn.”

Recently, China and pillows with the royal couple came in, along with paper dolls that can be cut out.

The store also has a life-size cardboard cutout of the couple for people to have their pictures taken with.

During the day of the wedding, Jackie plans to serve wedding cake throughout the day. She is also considering bringing a TV in to watch the wedding, even though she will be taping it as well.

“We can’t wait to see what her dress is,” she said.