Thursday, 12 November 2009

Hatton Garden EC1

Most people only visit Hatton Garden if they are shopping for a diamond ring - I reckon it's worth a wander even if you haven't just "popped the question" (and you never know, it may inspire you to do the right thing...). As I keep banging on about, I have a bit of a love affair with Fitzrovia and everything east of it, being Bloomsbury, Holborn, Clerkenwell etc - and Hatton Garden is in that geography. The area has been associated with the jewellery trade for hundreds of years and the street itself is now lined with jewellers, some of whom have been in residence here for generations. One of the things I love about this area is that you get these streets, sometimes only a few hundred metres long, that have really distinct personalities - Leather Lane, Lambs Conduit Street, Exmouth Market, Cowcross Street, St John Street and Hatton Garden. I could happily wander around here - obviously re-fuelling regularly at Dose near Smithfields Meat Market (another favourite). Actually to digress for a moment - for those who don't know, Smithfields is not really a "consumer" market (although there are great butchers shops open to the public) - it is a working meat market and if you go early enough in the morning they'll be washing the blood down into the gutters. The appeal for me is the architecture of the market building, the history of the place - along with Tyburn the area was used for public executions in the middle ages, it just missed being burnt by the great fire of London in the 17th century (you should check out the "Golden Boy of Pye Corner") and then became a notorious slum with all sorts of dodgy characters making it their home. I only mention all this because I once recommended to someone they go there and I think they thought they were going to Spitalfields Market and expected clothes and organic vegetables and quirky knick-knacks - whoops! Anyway - to finish up with Hatton Garden (which this entry was actually meant to be about) - one of the other reasons I like it is the retro 60s shop signs - like this one. If I had a diamond ring to buy, I'd definitely check out Carlo's - wouldn't you?

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