Hidden London

Hatton Garden

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Camden

London’s prime jewellery quarter, located just north of Holborn Circus. Hatton Garden takes its name from Sir Christopher Hatton who acquired the property from the Bishops of Ely. Hatton was both knighted and made chancellor by Elizabeth I, who had originally been attracted to him by his graceful dancing at a ball. Accordingly nicknamed the dancing chancellor, he was a major sponsor of Sir Francis Drake’s round-the-world voyage. Drake renamed his flagship in honour of his patron, whose family crest featured a golden hind. From an early role as a cutting centre for Indian diamonds, Hatton Garden developed a trade in gold and platinum during the nineteenth century. The exploitation of South Africa’s Kimberley diamond field brought a further increase in trade from the 1870s. ‘The Garden’ now boasts around 300 jewellery businesses, including 50 retailers. In July 1993 thieves stole jewels valued at 7 million from a Hatton Garden workshop belonging to the Knightsbridge jewellers Graff’s. It was London’s biggest gem robbery of modern times. Hatton Garden formed the backdrop for Guy Ritchie’s heist movie Snatch.

Mazzini, the writer and nationalist, founded an Italian language school in Hatton Garden in 1841. In a small factory in Hatton Garden in the early 1880s Hiram Maxim invented and perfected the Maxim gun, a single-barrelled machine gun that could fire 666 rounds a minute, which was adopted by the British army in 1891.

Ye Olde Mitre is in Ely Court, a narrow alley at the southern end of Hatton Garden. The present eighteenth century building replaced the original tavern built in 1546 by Bishop Goodrich of Ely, which is in Cambridgeshire, and the site is claimed by some to be still technically part of that county.

click for area map (opens in a new window)
Several of Hatton Garden's retailers buy and sell second-hand gold and jewellery

Postal district: EC1
Further reading: H Marryat and Una Broadbent, The Romance of Hatton Garden, James Cornish and Sons, 1930

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

 
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