Hatton Garden - History and Facts | History Hit

Hatton Garden

Amy Irvine

10 Aug 2023
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Arpingstone / Public Domain

About Hatton Garden

Nestled within the bustling streets of London, Hatton Garden stands as a testament to the city’s rich history, enduring resilience, and vibrant culture. This iconic commercial district, located in the heart of the Holborn area, has evolved over centuries, transforming from a rural estate to a thriving global jewellery hub, encapsulating London’s ever-changing landscape.

History of Hatton Garden

Originally known as Ely Place, Hatton Garden was part of the estate of the Bishops of Ely. In 1581, Queen Elizabeth I gave Ely Place to her closest aide, politician and advisor Sir Christopher Hatton. The property featured a beautiful garden, and by the 19th century, the area became known as Hatton Garden.

In medieval London, certain crafts and industries clustered around specific neighbourhoods to ease production and trade. Hatton Garden was already a popular residential neighbourhood, but after the Hatton family began to sell parts of their Ely estate, wealthy merchants and businesses occupied the spaces, and by the 17th and 18th centuries, the district began to attract skilled artisans, particularly goldsmiths, clockmakers and jewellers.

At this time, London was confined to the square mile City of London, and Hatton Garden became the reputable destination for trusted experts and quality craftsmanship. Infrastructure improvements, the area’s proximity to London’s financial centre, and its connection to the aristocracy all contributed to Hatton Gardens’ allure as a destination for those seeking exquisite craftsmanship and luxury. By the mid-1880s, there were over 60 merchants in the Hatton Garden area, specialising only in precious stones.

As London expanded rapidly during the Industrial Revolution, the district became a hub of commercial activity, with shops, businesses, and workshops. The establishment of the nearby Leather Lane market also attracted a diverse range of merchants and customers.

By the 20th century, Hatton Garden had firmly established itself as the epicentre of London’s jewellery trade. Skilled jewellers, gemologists, and craftsmen flocked to the district, creating a close-knit community of artisans. The street-level shops showcased displays of precious stones, diamonds, and exquisite jewellery, drawing in customers from around the world.

Unsurprisingly, Hatton Garden has been the site of many heists, including the £7 million Graff Diamonds heist in 1993 – London’s biggest jewellery robbery. The district also gained infamy in 2015 when a group of ageing thieves executed an audacious heist, stealing millions of pounds worth of jewels from a vault located beneath the streets. This brazen act captured global attention and has been made into several films.

Hatton Garden today

Today, Hatton Garden continues to be known as London and indeed the UK’s jewellery and diamond centre, with nearly 300 jewellery-related businesses, and over 70 shops and workshops offering an array of precious stones and bespoke pieces. The area’s historic charm is also complemented by contemporary media and publishing businesses, as well as art galleries, cafes, and design studios.

Additionally, the district’s streets are adorned with architectural gems, ranging from elegant Georgian townhouses to modern developments. The area is also home to many narrow alleys, underground tunnels, office and vaults, as well as hidden courtyards that help provide a glimpse into London’s past.

Getting to Hatton Garden

Hatton Garden is fairly equidistant to Farringdon and Chancery Lane tube stations. From Chancery Lane, turn left onto Leather Lane and right onto Greville Street towards Hatton Garden. Alternatively, walk straight up Greville Street from Farringdon Station. Many buses serve the area, including the 63 from King’s Cross and the 172 from Clerkenwell Green, which stop at Farringdon Station.