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Hatton Garden facts for kids

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A scene in Hatton Garden
A ring shop in Hatton Garden
Hatton Garden Road Sign
Painted road sign

Hatton Garden is a street and commercial zone in the Holborn district of the London Borough of Camden, abutting the narrow precinct of Saffron Hill which then abuts the City of London. It takes its name from Sir Christopher Hatton, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, who established a mansion here and gained possession of the garden and orchard of Ely Place, the London seat of the Bishops of Ely. It remained in the Hatton family and was built up as a stylish residential development in the reign of King Charles II. For some decades it often went, outside of the main street, by alternative name St Alban's Holborn, after the local church built in 1861.

St Etheldreda's Church in Ely Place, all that survives of the old Bishop's Palace, is one of only two remaining buildings in London dating from the reign of Edward I. It is one of the oldest churches in England now in use for Roman Catholic worship, which was re-established there in 1879. The red-brick building now known as Wren House, at the south-east corner of Hatton Garden and St Cross Street, was the Anglican church for the Hatton Garden development. It was taken over by the authorities of a charity school, and the statues of a boy and girl in uniform were then added.

Hatton Garden is famous as London's jewellery quarter and the centre of diamond trade in the United Kingdom. This specialisation grew up in the early 19th century, spreading out from its more ancient centre in nearby Clerkenwell. Today there are nearly 300 businesses here in the jewellery industry and over 55 shops, representing the largest cluster of jewellery retailers in the UK. The largest of these businesses was De Beers, the international family of companies which dominated the international diamond trade. Their headquarters were in an office and warehouse complex just behind the main Hatton Garden shopping street.

Sir Hiram Maxim had a small factory at 57 Hatton Garden and in 1881, invented and started to produce the Maxim Gun, a prototype machine gun, capable of firing 666 rounds a minute. Hatton Garden has an extensive underground infrastructure of vaults, tunnels, offices and workshops. The area is now home to many media, publishing and creative businesses, including Blinkbox and Grey Advertising. Surrounding streets including Hatton Place and Saffron Hill (the insalubrious setting for Fagin's den in Oliver Twist) were improved during the 20th century and in modern times have been developed with blocks of 'luxury' apartments, including Da Vinci House (occupying the former Punch magazine printworks) and the architecturally distinctive Ziggurat Building.

Street names etymologies

Hatton Garden has no formally defined boundaries - those utilised here are: Clerkenwell Road to the north, Farringdon Road to the east, Holborn and Charterhouse Street to the south and Gray's Inn road to the west.

  • Baldwins Gardens – from Richard Baldwin (or Baldwyn), gardener to Queen Elizabeth I and treasurer of the Middle Temple, who owned property in the area in the 16th century
  • Beauchamp Street – from Beauchamp Court, the Warwickshire birthplace of Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, local property owner
  • Black Bull Yard - unknown' this yard has now largely been covered by shop developments and is not accessible to the public
  • Bleeding Heart Yard – thought to be from the sign of a former pub in this area called the Bleeding Heart
  • Brooke Street, Brooke’s Court and Brooke’s Market – after Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, who owned a house near here in the 17th century
  • Charterhouse Street – Anglicisation of Chartreuse, from Grande Chartreuse, head monastery of the Carthusians in France - a nearby abbey was founded by monks of this order in 1371
  • Clerkenwell Road – from a local well (‘the clerk’s well), which gave its name to the area to this district
  • Dorrington Street – corruption of ‘Doddington’, from Anne Doddington, wife of Robert Grenville who owned a house near here in the 17th century
  • Ely Court and Ely Place – after the Bishops of Ely, Cambridgeshire who owned much of this area prior to 1659
  • Farringdon Road – from Sir William or Nicholas de Farnedon/Faringdon, local sheriffs or aldermen in the 13th century
  • Greville Street – from Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, who owned a house near here in the 17th century
  • Gray’s Inn Road – from Lord Gray of Wilton, owner of a local inn or town house which was later leased to lawyers in the 16th century
  • Hatton Garden, Hatton Place and Hatton Wall – from Sir Christopher Hatton, who was ceded much of this area from the Bishops of Ely by Elizabeth I in 1659
  • Holborn – thought to be from ‘hollow bourne’ i.e. the river Fleet which formerly flowed in a valley near here
  • Kirby Street – from Christopher Hatton’s Kirby House in Northamptonshire
  • Leather Lane – thought to come not from ‘leather’ but from Leofrun, a personal name in Old English. Formerly known as Le Vrunelane (13th century), Loverone Lane (14th century) and Liver Lane
  • Leigh Place – from a certain ‘Leigh’, who bought land in the area from the Baldwin family in 1689
  • Lily Place – unknown
  • Onslow Street - unknown
  • Portpool Lane – thought to be a corruption of ‘Purta’s Pool’, the local area is recorded as the manor of Purtepol in the early 13th century
  • Saffron Hill and Saffron Street – these used to be the gardens of the Bishops of Ely, where they grew saffron
  • St Cross Street – originally Cross Street, as it crossed land belonging to the Hatton family. The ‘St’ was added in 1937 to avoid confusion with numerous streets of the same name
  • Verulam Street – from 16th – 17th century lawyer, scientist and philosopher Francis Bacon, later created Baron Verulam, who had chambers at Gray’s Inn opposite
  • Viaduct Buildings – after their position directly adjacent to Holborn Viaduct
  • Waterhouse Square – after Alfred Waterhouse, architect of Holborn Bars, also known as the Prudential Assurance Building which surrounds the square

Hatton Garden in fiction

Michael Flanders and Donald Swann (humorists of the 1960s and 1970s) celebrated Hatton Garden's connection with the jewellery trade in their song of a sewage worker, "Down Below":

Hatton Garden is the spot, down below
Where we likes to go a lot, down below,
Since a bloke from Leather Lane,
Dropped a diamond down the drain,
We'll be going there again, down below.

Hatton Garden features in the 1967 children's novel Smith by Leon Garfield, where the main character tries to elude two pursuers through the crumbling streets of 18th century Holborn.

The Avengers, Season 2, Episode 10, "Death on the Rocks," is set in the diamond business in Hatton Garden.

The diamond robbery in the film A Fish Called Wanda (1988) takes place in Hatton Garden.

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