Saffron Hill, EC1

Image: interior, St. Etheldreda’s Church, Ely Place.


“Saffron Hill’s name derives from the time that it was part of an estate on which saffron (a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”) grew.

Saffron Hill formed part of the liberty of Saffron Hill, Hatton Garden, Ely Rents and Ely Place which became part of the County of London in 1889. It was abolished in 1900 and formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Holborn until 1965.

In 1850 it was described as a squalid neighbourhood, the home of paupers and thieves. In Charles Dickens’s 1837 novel Oliver Twist (Chapter 8), the Artful Dodger leads Oliver to Fagin’s den in Field Lane, the southern extension of Saffron Hill: “a dirty and more wretched place he (Oliver) had never seen. The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was impregnated with filthy odours”.

Saffron Hill is mentioned in the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”, as the Italian Quarter where the Venucci family can be found.

Saffron Hill has become more residential in recent years with the building of several blocks of ’luxury’ apartments, including Da Vinci House situated in the former “Punch magazine” printworks and the architecturally distinctive Ziggurat Building.”

From: London Wiki – Liberties of London:

“Saffron Hill, Hatton Garden, Ely Rents and Ely Place was a liberty and from 1866 to 1930 a civil parish in the metropolitan area of London. It was part of the ancient parish of St Andrew Holborn.

The southern boundary was the street now called Holborn, the western boundary was Leather Lane. It stretched north of Clerkenwell Road between Back Hill and Herbal Hill to the current junction of Warner Street and Ray Street. The boundary in the east approximated Farringdon Road and Farringdon Street. It included the entire lengths of the streets now called Saffron Hill, Hatton Garden and Ely Place. Ely Rents was a group of houses owned by the See of Ely.

The liberty had a workhouse from 1730 and was grouped into the Holborn Poor Law Union in 1836.

It occupied an area of 30 acres

For local government it was grouped into the Holborn District from 1855 to 1900 and then became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Holborn. It was abolished as a civil parish in 1930.”

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