Julie Tucker
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Hatton Garden: The UK’s diamond capital

Hatton Garden, London, is one of the UK’s most fascinating districts to work in and visit, thanks to its long association with the diamond trade. It’s known as the diamond capital of the UK with good reason, as there are more than 300 jewellery businesses located there.

A famous commercial district in Holborn in the Borough of Camden, it is perhaps most well-known for the scandalous Hatton Garden heist in modern times. Brazen thieves stole millions of pounds worth of gems in a shocking raid that made headlines all over the world in 2015.

However, there’s far more to the area than scandal, of course!

Where is Hatton Garden?

The area doesn’t have any formally defined boundary, although it’s generally accepted that it spans from Farringdon Road to the east, Clerkenwell Road to the north, Gray’s Inn Road to the west and Holborn and Charterhouse Street to the south.

Adjacent to Hatton Garden, Farringdon is a thriving business district, well-known for its upmarket office space, with plenty of pubs and restaurants.

Our Headspace Group coworking space has a fascinating history of its own, as it used to be a former jewel house. The quirkiness of the building includes a modern meeting room that was once the diamond vault!

Hatton Garden also has a royal heritage and has become a popular destination for day-trippers. Its roots stretch back to Sir Christopher Hatton, a politician, who gave the district its name.

In 1581, he was given a property (Ely Place) by Queen Elizabeth I, as he was a close advisor. He was also given a knighthood and was appointed Lord Chancellor. Ely Place had a beautiful large garden, and the street and surrounding areas were subsequently named Hatton Garden in his honour.

Hatton was a highly successful politician and businessman, and he accumulated a lot of wealth over the next few years. He built a huge house, Holdenly Place, that rivalled Hampton Court.

Today, London’s famous jewellery quarter is still named Hatton Garden in his memory.

What can you expect when visiting Hatton Garden?

Visitors to Hatton Garden are surrounded by great opulence, as it is the centre of Britain’s diamond trade – proven by the 300-plus jewellery businesses lining its streets.

It also boasts many attractions, whether you’re visiting especially to buy some jewellery, or whether you’re simply going to enjoy a day trip.

There’s street food at the historic Leather Lane Market, where more than 100 stalls offer a wide diversity of foods. There are flavours from across the world at the area’s oldest street market, which has been home to vendors for some 400 years.

Visitors can enjoy drinks at one of Hatton Garden’s multitude of historic pubs, such as Ye Olde Mitre, dating back to 1546. Located off Ely Place, it has won a plethora of awards over the years and is steeped in heritage.

What happened to the Hatton Garden robbers?

With the huge concentration of Hatton Garden jewellers, robbers have tried their luck on more than one occasion.

In fact, back in December 1678, a “great robbery in Hatton Garden” was reported, when a wealthy householder was conned by a gang of thieves, who claimed to be policemen searching for a dangerous person!

They provided a fake search warrant before holding the householder at gunpoint and escaping with his valuables. However, the robbers (John Butler, George Brown, Richard Mills, George Kenian and Christopher Bruncker) were caught two days later when trying to sell the stolen jewellery. They were hanged one month later.

The more recent “great robbery” of Hatton Garden was London’s biggest jewel heist in modern times. An estimated £14 million worth of diamonds, jewellery, gold and cash was stolen from Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company over Easter weekend 2015.

The heist was carried out by six men described as “experienced thieves”, who worked over the four-day Easter Bank Holiday, when most nearby businesses were closed. There was no sign of forced entry into the premises, as the burglars had entered through the lift shaft and drilled through the 20-inch-thick vault walls with an industrial power drill.

After an investigation by the specialist Flying Squad arm of London’s Metropolitan Police, the criminals were all arrested and pleaded guilty in 2016, receiving prison sentences. However, to date, only £4.3 million of the proceeds of the robbery have been recovered.

Other Hatton Garden claims to fame

Hatton Garden reportedly inspired the work of 19th century author Charles Dickens, who wrote his famous novel, Oliver Twist, about a gang of thieves preying on wealthy shoppers and householders. He based the action in the streets and alleyways surrounding the Hatton Garden quarter.

The district has been subject to significant development since the days of Oliver Twist, but the novel still represents part of its heritage. Indeed, there is a Charles Dickens Pub Walk today to celebrate the great author’s work.


© Luibov Luganskaia / Shutterstock.com

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