St Etheldreda's Church in Ely Place, all that survives of the old Bishops' Palace, is one of only two remaining buildings in London dating from the reign of Edward I. It is one of the oldest churches in England now in use for Roman Catholic worship, which was re-established there in 1879. The red-brick building now known as Wren House, at the south-east corner of Hatton Garden and St Cross Street, was the Anglican church for the Hatton Garden development. It was taken over by the authorities of a charity school, and the statues of a boy and girl in uniform were then added.
Hatton Garden is famous as London's jewellery quarter and the centre of the UK diamond trade. This specialization grew up in the early 19th century, spreading out from its more ancient centre in Clerkenwell. Today there are nearly 300 businesses here in the jewellery industry and over 55 shops, representing the largest cluster of jewellery retailers in the UK. The largest of these businesses is De Beers, the international family of companies which dominate the international diamond trade. Their headquarters are in an office and warehouse complex just behind the main Hatton Garden shopping street. In 1962 Lawrence Graff of Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond fame opened his first retail jewellery store here.
Sir Hiram Maxim had a small factory at 57 Hatton Garden and in 1881 invented and started to produce the Maxim Gun, a prototype machine gun, capable of firing 666 rounds a minute. Hatton Garden has an extensive underground infrastructure of vaults, tunnels, offices and workshops. The area is now home to a large number of media, publishing and creative businesses, including Blinkbox and Grey Advertising. Surrounding streets including Hatton Place and Saffron Hill (the insalubrious setting for Fagin's den in Oliver Twist) were improved during the 20th century and in modern times have been developed with blocks of 'luxury' apartments, including Da Vinci House (occupying the former "Punch magazine" printworks) and the architecturally distinctive Ziggurat Building.
The Hatton Garden area between Leather Lane in the west and Saffron Hill in the east, and from Holborn in the south to Hatton Wall in the north, was developed as a new residential district in the Restoration period, between 1659 and 1694. It arose soon after the residential developments in Covent Garden and was contemporary with those of Bloomsbury Square.
It was formerly the site of the mediaeval palace, gardens and orchard of the Bishops of Ely, forming their City residence. The palace stood in the south-east corner, on the site of Ely Place. During the 1570s Queen Elizabeth's Chancellor and favourite, Sir Christopher Hatton, held a lease of part of the site and developed Hatton House to the north-west of the palace. In 1581 he obtained a more permanent grant from Queen Elizabeth during a vacancy in the see, and after his death it passed into the possession of Lady Elizabeth Hatton, the widow of Sir Christopher's nephew Sir William Newport (who changed his name to Hatton). At her death in 1646, during the English Civil War, it reverted to Christopher Hatton, 1st Baron Hatton, a close associate of Charles II in his exile in Paris during the Commonwealth period, 1649-1660.