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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 area in the Holborn district of the London Borough of Camden. It is noted as London's jewellery quarter and centre of the UK diamond trade, but is now home to a diverse range of media and creative businesses.

The name 'Hatton Garden' is derived from the garden of Ely Place, the London residence of the Bishop of Ely, which was given to Sir Christopher Hatton by Elizabeth I in 1581, during a vacancy of the see.

The area surrounding Hatton Garden has been the centre of London's jewellery trade since medieval times. The old City of London had streets, or quarters, dedicated to types of business, and the area around Hatton Garden became a centre for jewellers and jewellery. Nearly 300 businesses in Hatton Garden are in the jewellery industry and over 55 shops represent the largest cluster of jewellery retailers in the UK. The largest of these companies is De Beers, the international family of companies that dominate the international diamond trade. De Beers has its headquarters in a complex of offices and warehouses just behind the main Hatton Garden shopping street. The area also plays host to a large number of media, publishing and creative businesses, including Blinkbox and Grey Advertising.

Hatton Garden has an extensive underground infrastructure of vaults, tunnels, offices and workshops.

Hatton Garden was also the home to the invention of the machine gun. Sir Hiram Maxim had a small factory at 57 Hatton Garden and in 1881 invented and started to produce the Maxim Gun, capable of firing 666 rounds a minute.

The nearby streets including Hatton Place and Saffron Hill have become more residential in recent years with the building of several blocks of 'luxury' apartments, including Da Vinci House situated in the former "Punch magazine" printworks and the architecturally distinctive Ziggurat Building.

Ely Place, off Hatton Garden, is home to St Etheldreda's Church – one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in England and one of only two remaining buildings in London dating from the reign of Edward I. A building with statues of charity school children is a former chapel and parish school, now known as Wren House.

In 1962, Lawrence Graff of Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond fame, opened the first retail jewellery store here.

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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