“Diamond Street” by Rachel Lichtenstein

An excellent London book, focusing on Hatton Garden, but ranging pretty widely around, and combining the author’s personal reminiscences with deep research. You learn a lot from this book, painlessly. It’s pushed me now several times to the area, listening to the roaring Fleet beneath a grating (see below), looking at what’s left of the diamond trade, revisiting the remains of the Palace of the Bishops of Ely on Ely Place, and (a particular highlight) attending (if that’s the right word) the 2013 Sagra, or Italian festival – already in the diary for 20th July this year: it’s a wonderful event – loads of people, pasta, street stalls, and a parade on floats.
Her last chapter is an account of how she persuaded Thames Water to let her down into the waters of the River Fleet itself – a psychogeographical delight.

{Just notes and thoughts}
Realising that this area was always going to rough, and appealing to immigrants, as it was just outside the city.

Realising that Jews and other displaced peoples would have been drawn to the diamond trade because it can all be transported easily and secretly.

Caledonian Road named after the Caledonian Asylum on Hatton Garden, founded for 120 Scottish Napoleonic-Wars orphans, and then relocated.

St Andrew’s Church was once on a hill… – the surrounding ground has risen so much.

You can see and hear the Fleet through a grating in Ray Street outside the Coach and Horses.

Obvious but unobvious: multi-exited roundabouts were important places: Holborn Circus / Ely Palace; Seven Dials was an abbey and leper colony

Wren’s biggest octagonal piazza would have stretched from Holborn Circus to Blackfriars, with Temple Church in the middle (see speculative diagram).

Wren's quadrangle?

Wren’s quadrangle?

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