Hatton Garden is one of the most historic parts of London, and is famous as London's jewellery quarter; the absolute centre of the UK’s diamond trade, being home to many diamond shops, merchants, and the London Diamond Bourse. Greville Street, on which Daniel Christopher is located, is one of the prime spots in the area. The road is filled with history, named after Fulke Greville, the 1st Baron Brooke who owned a house near the street in the 17th Century. The history doesn’t stop there, one of the roads linking off Greville Street, Saffron Hill, is notable as the home of the dastardly Fagin in Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist. Read on to learn more about our building and the beautiful Hatton Garden area.
Hatton Garden is steeped in history.....
Hatton Garden was named after the garden of the London residence of the Bishop of Ely called Ely Place, which was given to Sir Christopher Hatton by Elizabeth I in 1588.
Hatton Garden’s reputation for diamond dealing initially came about at the end of the 19th Century at the time of the discovery of the Kimberley Diamond Fields in South Africa, when De Beers began selling all of their stones through London, creating a culture of related trades in the area.
In the second half of the 20th Century a large number of jewellery shops opened in Hatton Garden, shifting the business away from manufacturing for the wholesale market towards the retail trade, especially for engagement and wedding rings. However the area has retained its reputation for selling high quality diamond jewellery at competitive prices.
William Marsden set up the London General Institution for the Gratuitous Care of Malignant Diseases (now the Royal Free Hospital) in our building at 16 Greville Street in 1828, following the death of a young girl on the steps of St Andrew’s Church, Holborn having been refused treatment by other hospitals in the area.
16 Greville Street, where we are based today, has housed some of the best Hatton Garden jewellers for over 50 years.
Laurence Graff, one of the areas most famous past residents opened his first retail store in Hatton Garden in 1963 and soon bought 16 Greville Street.
Our building 16 Greville Street
The Royal Free Hospital was founded in our current residence, 16 Greville street, back in 1828 by the surgeon William Marsden. The story goes that one evening, Marsden came across a young girl, who lay dying on the step of nearby St. Andrew Church, Holborn. None of the nearby hospitals would take her in and she died from disease and hunger. Outraged, Marsden set up his small dispensary in out building, which he names the London General Institution for the Gratuitous Care of Malignant Diseases. This would later grow to be the Royal Free Hospital.
In 1962 our building was bought and owned by Laurence Graff, Founder of diamond company Graff.
The building was used as the Graff workshop and shop up until the 90s, and was where, in July 1993, thieves stole around £7 million worth of diamonds belonging to the jewellers, in one of London’s largest gem heists of modern times. The building was consequently bought and operated by Cool Diamonds. The premises then passed over to Daniel Christopher Jewellery in 2013 and here we are today.
The Bleeding Heart Yard
Just behind our building, and where the entrance to our workshop is placed, is the infsmous Bleeding Heart Yard.
The cobblestone courtyard gets is a setting used in Charles Dickens’ novel Little Dorrit, as the home of the Plornish family. Dickens writes about it as
...a place much changed in feature and in fortune, yet with some relish of ancient greatness about it. Two or three mighty stacks of chimneys, and a few large dark rooms which had escaped being walled and subdivided out of the recognition of their old proportions, gave the Yard a character. It was inhabited by poor people, who set up their rest among its faded glories, as Arabs of the desert pitch their tents among the fallen stones of the Pyramids; but there was a family sentimental feeling prevalent in the Yard, that it had a character.
Urban legend has it that the Bleeding Heart Yard got its name under very gruesome circumstances. It is said the Lady Elizabeth Hatton, the second wife of Sir William Hatton, whose family owned a large portion of the Hatton Garden area and beyond, was found murdered in the courtyard on 27th January 1646. Rumour had it that her heart was still bleeding, "torn limb from limb, but with her heart still pumping blood onto the cobblestones."
Thought dramatic, this is most likely quite far from the truth, and is a myth propagated by R.H. Barham, in his collection of stories and poems entitled The Ingoldsby Legends in 1837. One story, named The House-Warming: A Legend Of Bleeding-Heart Yard, one Lady Hatton, wife of Sir Christopher Hatton makes a deal with the devil for fame and fortune. The devil then rips out her heart, which is found still beating in the courtyard.
However, many insist that the legend of Lady Elizabeth and her bleeding heart is true, with some claiming the yard to be haunted, with reported sightings of Lady Elizabeth herself.