The changing face of Hatton Garden

Posted August 24, 2012

The plague was followed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 – which stopped just north of Fleet Street, leaving Hatton Garden dirty but unscathed.  But the area was no longer fashionable.

Small business moved in:  Langdales Distillery of Essential Oils was one of the first at number 72 and John Lund made chronometers at number 4.

Hiram Maxim developed the machine gun in the basement of 57D.  Visitors who came to see a demonstration included the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) and Mr. Matthey, who refined precious metals and whose company, Johnson Matthey & Co., is the oldest surviving business in Hatton Garden.

a gold foundary

Sebastian de Ferranti designed and built an electrical generator at 57B and at 44, Robert Paul, a scientific instrument maker, was commissioned to duplicate the American invention – the kinetoscope or moving picture show.

Charles Dickens lived and worked in Holborn and the museum dedicated to his life and works is situated at number 48 Doughty Street.  Many of the characters and events described in his books took place in the area.  Oliver Twist was taken to the Court House at 52 Hatton Garden for stealing Mr. Brownlow’s handkerchief and the area around Saffron Hill was thought to have been the site of Fagin’s notorious Thieves Kitchen. The famously complex law suite of Jarndyce versus Jarndyce in Bleak House is believed to have been based on the complex chancery case of the Hatton Garden Estate which occurred on the death the last Lord Hatton and the Bishops of Ely.

Thomas Jacques, the son of a French Huguenot, was apprentice to a bone and ivory carver in Leather Lane.  He and his son set up there own business at 102 Hatton Garden making Croquet sets, but his claim to fame were the games he invented – Happy Families, Tiddley Winks, Ludo, Snakes and Ladders and Ping-pong!  His mission was “teaching the world to play|”.