A ROYAL HISTORY
Hatton Garden has royal roots stretching back to the area’s namesake, Sir Christopher Hatton, who in 1581 was gifted the property of Ely Place by Elizabeth I. Sir Christopher Hatton was a politician and close advisor to the Queen who gained recognition from his knighthood and appointment as Lord Chancellor. The gifted property featured a beautiful garden that, eventually, branded the street and surrounding area ‘Hatton Garden’. A successful man, Sir Hatton accumulated great wealth and in the years to come built a grand house to rival Hampton Court, Holdenly Palace near Northampton. His name lives on in what is today known as London’s Jewellery Quarter, Hatton Garden.
MEDIEVAL MARKETS TO FASHIONABLE FOODIES
Hatton Garden’s association with the jewellery trade dates back to Medieval London, when particular crafts and industries clustered around specific neighbourhoods to ease production and trade. The Hatton family began to sell parts of their Ely estate, allowing for wealthy merchants and businesses to occupy the spaces. London at this point was confined to the square mile City of London, and Hatton Garden became the reputable destination for trusted experts and quality craftsmanship.
While many of London’s original districts have been lost to development, failing industries and change, Hatton Garden has remained the heart of the UK’s jewellery trade. With over seventy jewellery shops and nearly three-hundred jewellery businesses, it is still the largest jewellery quarter in the country, pulling visitors globally for its expert craftsmanship and detailed knowledge of all things jewellery. Hatton Garden attracts all walks of life, from those who frequent diamond-buying to individuals seeking once-in-a-lifetime engagement rings and special keepsakes.
In recent years, the creativity of the area has flourished as media and publishing companies have nestled between workshops and in nearby offices, contributing to the hustle and bustle of the locale. The presence of creative industries has fuelled the continuation of the lively Leather Lane Market, which now welcomes some of the city’s best street food. Acclaimed restaurants have popped up along Hatton Garden and the nearby areas of Clerkenwell and Farringdon, bringing with them stylish bars and a plethora of choice for a great night out. Despite Hatton Garden’s stride into the Twenty-First Century, history is seeped around every corner with timber-framed pubs, cobbled streets and Medieval yards to stumble across.
HATTON GARDEN SCANDALS APLENTY
Hatton Garden has had its fair share of scandals along its long and fascinating history, perhaps most shockingly the tale of Lady Elizabeth Hatton and her tragic death. One night in 1926, Lady Hatton had been seen out dancing with an unidentified man. In the early hours of the morning, in a yard just off Greville Street, Lady Hatton’s dismembered body was found strewn upon the cold cobbled ground, her heart still beating in her chest. The yard came to be known as Bleeding Heart Yard, where many believe her ghost still aimlessly wanders the cobblestones.
The more mercenary tales of recent years are better-known, about the attraction of criminals to an area filled with precious diamonds and prized jewels. In 1993, £7 million worth of gems were robbed from Graff’s workshop, at the time qualifying as London’s biggest jewellery robbery. The robbers were named The Rascal Gang after the Bedford Rascal vans they used to flee the scene. Graff Diamonds suffered greater loss in 2009 when two men posing as customers stole almost £40 million worth of jewellery from their Bond Street store.
On Easter Weekend of 2015, in what has been dubbed the Hatton Garden Heist, a group of criminals drilled into the vault of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit, where gang members slid through a tight hole to empty deposit boxes: diamonds, precious stones, jewellery and money were among the stolen valuables. The robbers gained sensational attention for being up to seventy-six years old, with an average age of sixty and pensioners among them. Since, several films have been made about the heist, with Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent and Ray Winstone featuring in the 2018 blockbuster. Rest assured, these incidents have been far and few between, but will be sure to go down in Hatton Garden’s ever-growing history.