Hatton Garden and Its Jewels
Hatton Garden has long had a reputation for being the centre of the diamond and jewellery trade in London. However, it is a fascinating area of the city for reasons other than just its history as the jewellery quarter. Here is a guide to some of the interesting things about Hatton Garden that you may not have known about.
The jewellery trade has been important in Hatton Garden since the medieval period. The City of London always had streets that focused on various trades and businesses, and jewellery was the main business here. However, things really took of for the jewellery trade in the 19th century when De Beers decided its headquarters would be here.
Following this, the area developed an international reputation for its jewels and expert jewellers, and this reputation continued to grow. In the latter half of the 20th century, many jewellery shops opened in Hatton Garden, and now there are about 300 business and over 50 shops operating here.
Here are some other facts about the history of Hatton Gardens that make this area of London so interesting:
The area used to be famous for its gardens, as suggested by the name. Street names like Saffron Hill still remind us of this history. It was not until the 17th century that the gardens were converted into houses and street.
The area used to be owned by the Bishop of Ely. He had a palace and grounds in central London because he was so powerful. In Shakespeare's 'Richard III', mention is made of the strawberries in the Bishop's garden.
The area got its name from Christopher Hatton, who was a courtier admired by Elizabeth I. In the 16th century, Hatton was given a house within the grounds of Ely Palace. He was later knighted and became Lord Chancellor.
The area provided inspiration to Charles Dickens, who used to live here. Gray's Inn featured in 'David Copperfield', and Bleeding Heart Yard featured in 'Little Dorrit'. There is a museum dedicated to Charles Dickens in Doughty Street.
Other famous people lived and worked in the area, and they are commemorated on plaques. For example, there is a plaque to Sir Hiram Maxim, the designer of the machine gun, at the top of Hatton Garden Street.
Bleeding Heart Yard is connected with the murder of Lady Elizabeth Hatton. Her body was found in 1626, allegedly torn apart but with her heart still beating. Her ghost is now said to haunt the streets.
You can also see one of the last private roads in London, Ely Place, where the architect Charles Barry used to live.
Hatton Garden is a fascinating area of London, and one rich in history. If you want to buy a piece of jewellery, perhaps purchase a little piece of history yourself in the form of an antique engagement ring; commission a statement piece in the form or a sapphire engagement ring or let your sentimental side show with the acquisition of an eternity ring, take a trip here and walk around its ancient streets, keeping a look out for plaques of the famous people who have walked before you … Just watch out for the ghost of Lady Elizabeth Hatton.