Valentines day has been and gone and once again the true winner in this despicable of days is Hallmarks, who invented the day in the first place, so after the rush of pink Cava and and red roses, I decided to dedicate the blog to a location in London which is also associated with the heart. But in a far more gruesome way. The place in question is the cobbled courtyard Bleeding Heart Yard, Hatton Garden, near Farringdon.
The story does share something with Valentines day as both end up with someone being bled dry of everything they have including any self dignity, the difference is that every year it is mainly men that are the victim of this crime while the legend of Bleeding heart yard has a woman having to pay the final price, now that what i call equality.
Legend has it that the courtyard's name commemorates the murder of Lady Elizabeth Hatton, second wife of Sir William Hatton, whose family used to own the area. It is said that her body was found here on January 27, 1626, torn limb from limb, but with her heart still pumping blood. Trey Philpotts of the University of Delaware writes that the courtyard is, in fact, named after a sign dating back to the Reformation that was diplayed on a pub called the Bleeding Heart in nearby Charles Street. The sign showed the heart of the Virgin Mary pierced by five swords. Thus making the Bleeding Heart story one of Londons earliest urban legends
A French restaurant called The Bleeding Heart now occupies a number of the buildings in the courtyard. Which by the way serves great food and I recommend to anybody who is visiting London.
Taken from the shady old ladys guide to london - Lady Elizabeth Hatton was the toast of 17th Century London society. The widowed daughter-in-law of the famous merchant Sir Christopher Hatton (one-time consort of Queen Elizabeth 1), Lady Elizabeth was young, beautiful and very wealthy. Her suitors were many and varied, and included a leading London Bishop and a prominent European Ambassador. Invitations to her soirees in Hatton Garden were much sought after.
Her Annual Winter Ball, on January 26, 1662, was one of the highlights of the London social season. Halfway through the evening's festivities, the doors to Lady Hatton's grand ballroom were flung open. In strode a swarthy gentleman, slightly hunched of shoulder, with a clawed right hand. He took her by the hand, danced her once around the room and out through the double doors into the garden. A buzz of gossip arose. Would Lady Elizabeth and the European Ambassador (for it was he) kiss and make up, or would she return alone? Neither was to be. The next morning her body was found in the cobblestone courtyard torn limb from limb, with her heart still pumping blood onto the cobblestones. And from thenceforth the yard was to be known as The Bleeding Heart Yard.
Charles Dickens knew Bleeding Heart well. In Little Dorritt, the Plornish family lived in a house in Bleeding Heart Yard. The more practical of the Yards inmates abided by the tradition of the murder.
[It was] a place much changed in feature and in fortune, yet with some relish of ancient greatness about it. Two or three mighty stacks of chimneys, and a few large dark rooms which had escaped being walled and subdivided out of the recognition of their old proportions, gave the Yard a character. It was inhabited by poor people, who set up their rest among its faded glories, as Arabs of the desert pitch their tents among the fallen stones of the Pyramids; but there was a family sentimental feeling prevalent in the Yard, that it had a character.
But he went on to document another Bleeding Heart story: The gentler and more imaginative inhabitants, including the whole of the tender sex, were loyal to the legend of a young lady imprisoned in her own chamber by a cruel father for remaining true to her own true lover but it was objected to by the murderous party that this was the invention of a spinster and romantic, still lodging in the Yard.
In one of the stories, The House-Warming: A Legend Of Bleeding-Heart Yard, Lady Hatton, wife of Sir Christopher Hatton, makes a pact with the devil to secure wealth, position, and a mansion in Holburn. During the housewarming of the mansion, the devil dances with her, then tears out her heart, which is found, still beating, in the courtyard the next morning. It is from this legend, together with a case of mistaken identity, that the myth of Lady Elizabeth Hatton's murder — wife, not of Christopher, but of William Hatton — was born.
Of poor Lady Hatton, it's needless to say,
No traces have ever been found to this day,
Or the terrible dancer who whisk'd her away;
But out in the court-yard -- and just in that part
Where the pump stands -- lay bleeding a LARGE HUMAN HEART!
And sundry large stains
Of blood and of brains,
Which had not been wash'd off notwithstanding the rains,
Appear'd on the wood, and the handle, and chains,
As if somebody's head with a very hard thump,
Had been recently knock'd on the top of the pump.
That pump is no more!-- that of which you've just read,--
But they've put a new iron one up in its stead,
And still, it is said,
At that 'small hour' so dread,
When all sober people are cosey in bed,
There may sometimes be seen on a moonshiny night,
Standing close by the new pump, a Lady in White,
Who keeps pumping away with, 'twould seem, all her might,
Though never a drop comes her pains to requite!
And hence many passengers now are debarr'd
From proceeding at nightfall through Bleeding Heart Yard!
Happy Valentines day ...