What do you know about the capital’s most famous jewellery quarter? Hatton Garden is known for its extensive and interesting history: developing from the garden of a royal advisor to now a thriving creative business in the heart of London, providing a home for a diverse and wide-range of traders and customers across the country, whilst still remaining at the very heart of the UK’s diamond trade.
Nevertheless, it is no understatement to say it has experienced its fair share of scandals during its time. We take a further look at the story of Hatton Garden so far.
How did Hatton Garden get its name?
The Gardens are located in Holborn in the Camden borough and it takes its name from Sir Christopher Hatton after he had been gifted property by Elizabeth I in 1581. The name of that particular property was Ely place, which had originally been the home of Bishop of Ely whilst he resided in London. As a result, this is how the garden of the house got its name as Hatton Garden.
But who was Christopher Hatton? Hatton was a close advisor of the Queen and a politician. The queen knighted him and in later years made him Lord Chancellor, becoming an extremely powerful and influential man before dying in 1591.
The development of Hatton Garden
In terms of major developments of Hatton Gardens and Ely Place, these didn’t really start to take shape until at least the 1700’s. In this period, the surrounding area and streets were built in the gardens, which helped to form the foundations of the Ely Place and Hatton Garden that we have come to know today.
However, it is important to establish that the Clerkenwell and Hatton Garden areas had been well known for its flourishing jewellery trade and talented craftsmen. In fact, this dates back to the Middle Ages, where specific trades had formed in specific addresses and neighbourhoods.
Hatton Garden in the 1800’s
With more and more developments taking place in Hatton Garden, it then started to gain business from the Clerkenwell area, which helped to fuel its reputation as an area known for its jewellery and diamond production, as we previously mentioned. One business that notably fuelled Hatton Garden’s growth and reputation was undoubtedly The East India Trading Company. This was because the firm imported the large majority of the world’s diamonds from India to Hatton Garden.
Over the course of time during the 1800s, Hatton Garden had thoroughly cemented its status worldwide as the leader for gemstone and diamond production, particularly through The De Beers Mine (which is now known as the Kimberley Mine).
The Kimberley Mine was first discovered in 1871 and it very quickly became the most productive diamond mine globally, with its discovery helping to give Hatton Gardens overall reputation a huge boost. Furthermore, Hatton Garden also saw the formation of De beers Consolidated Mines Limited (know known as De beers), as well as the London Diamond Syndicate, which had been formed by ten jewellers in Hatton garden and a merger was formed between these two firms.
Consequently, this helped solidify Hatton Gardens’ status considerably, as it helped cement their name in the diamond and gemstone industry as the deal enabled Hatton Garden to use De Beer’s influence and dominance of the diamond industry, in order to purchase their entire supply of gemstones at a fixed rate.
In the 1900s, Hatton Garden received a large influx of professional diamond dealers and cutters descending from the Jewish community in Antwerp – which was the centre of diamond trade for De Beers.
Following WWII and The Holocaust, many surviving Jews from the diamond trade relocated to Hatton Garden to start new lives and do business – and the Jewish community is still very active in the diamond trade in Hatton Garden today.
Shocking events in Hatton Garden
Just like many other historic areas of the capital, it should come as no surprise that Hatton Garden has also seen a number of shocking events occur in the area. Take for example Bleeding Heart Yard, which is just opposite Hearts of London on Greville street and it was previously the setting of the Ingodlsby’s Legends. The story involves a night back in 1926, where Lady Elizabeth Hatton suddenly disappeared after a night out an unknown man. Unfortunately, the next day her dismembered body was found in the yard, with her heart still beating. Legend has it that the ghost of Lady Hatton still walks the street today.
The area still has incidents that are a little on the shocking side though: such as a number of high-profile robbery attempts. For example, in 1993 there was a loot of Graff’s workshop, with over £7 million worth of gemstones stolen.
In April 2015, criminals drilled in the vault of the Hatton Garden safe deposit, where they took deposit boxes of jewels, money, and valuables worth a staggering £200 million in total and carrying out one of the biggest burglaries in its English history since 1066. The Heist had been carried out by a group of senior men, who were known as experienced thieves.
The Heist carried out by the men was deemed so significant that the flying squad, which is a branch of the Specialist, Organised & Economic crime command in the London Metropolitan Police service ended up taking over the case.
As it stands, eight men involved in the burglary have so far been arrested and sentenced. Yet unfortunately, just £4 million of the approximate £200 million pounds worth of jewellery stolen has been recovered to date.
In September 2015, The Hatton garden safe deposit company revealed that it had since gone into liquidation due to the heist. The burglary had led trade to dry up dramatically and leading to the eventual insolvency.
Hatton Garden today
What is this historic jewellery centre like today in the capital? Today, there are approximately 55 jewellery shops in Hatton Garden and around 300 jewellery companies in the locality, meaning that is is still the largest jewellery quarter in the country.
This area of London is not only home to jewellers though. In the last few decades a number of media and publishing firms have located here adding to the buzzing atmosphere of this part of the capital.