Kirby Street, EC1N

The author Strype in 1720 described this area as being “a very large place, containing several streets—viz., Hatton Street, Charles Street, Cross Street, and Kirby Street, all which large tract of ground was a garden, and belonged to Hatton House, now pulled down, and built into houses.”

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 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. 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, a close associate of Charles II in his exile in Paris during the Commonwealth period, 1649-1660.

He had been created the 1st Baron Hatton of Kirby – whence Kirby Street.

In 1659 John Evelyn observed Hatton Street (Hatton Garden) being laid out from south to north, hard against the west side of the palace.

A new area grew up on a rectangular grid of new streets. Charles Street (at first called Cross Street) was laid west to east as a continuation of Greville Street, and the Bishops’ orchard, which the Hattons had laid out as a walled knot garden with a central fountain, lay north of that up to Hatton Wall. Hatton Street followed the line of its central path. By 1666, the year of the Great Fire, the development had advanced north to form two principal blocks up to the line of St Cross Street (then called Little Kirby Street). The remaining open land was used as a refuge by Londoners escaping the Fire, which did not consume Hatton Garden.

After Lord Hatton’s death in 1670 the northern sector up to Hatton Wall was completed by 1694 in the time of his son Sir Christopher Hatton, 1st Viscount Hatton, whose agent was the noted accountant Stephen Monteage (1623-1687). Work on the Hatton Street church (now Wren House) commenced in 1685-86.

Kirby Street, parallel to Hatton Street on the east side, enclosed a central block with rear gardens backing, but in the northern sectors Hatt and Tunn Yard on the east (on the site of Hatton Place) and other small yards on the west provided access to smaller dwellings and coach houses. In the southern sectors King’s Head Yard (later Robin Wood Yard, Robin Hood Yard) was similarly enclosed to the west, and to the east Bleeding Heart Yard (Arlidge’s Yard, with Union Court) was developed near the palace by Abraham Arlidge (1645-1717), a carpenter of Kenilworth (Warwickshire) origins who worked extensively on the project and made his fortune by judicious investments.

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