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Holborn ( ) is an area of Central London, England. Holborn is also the name of the area's principal east-west street, running from St Giles's High Street as High Holborn to Gray's Inn Road to Holborn Viaductmarker, crossing the borders of the City of Westminstermarker, London Borough of Camdenmarker and the City of Londonmarker.


"Old Holborn": Staple Inn in 1900
area's first mention is in a charter of Westminster Abbey, by King Edgar, dated to 959. This mentions "the old wooden church of St Andrew" (St Andrew, Holbornmarker). It was then outside the City's jurisdiction and a part of Ossulstone Hundred in Middlesex. In the 12th century St Andrew's was noted in local title deeds as lying on "Holburnestrate"—Holborn Street.

The name Holborn may be derived from the Middle English "hol" for hollow, and bourne, a brook, referring to the River Fleetmarker as it ran through a steep valley to the east. The 16th century historian John Stow attributes the name to the Old Bourne ("old brook"), a small stream which he believed ran into the Fleet at Holborn Bridge, a structure lost when the river was culverted in 1732. The exact course of the stream is uncertain, but according to Stow it started in one of the many small springs near Holborn Bar, the old Citymarker toll gate on the summit of Holborn Hill. Other historians, however, doubt that in view of the slope of the land.

The original Bars were the boundary of the City of London from 1223, when the City's jurisdiction was extended beyond the Walls, at Newgate, into the suburb here, as far as the point where the Bars where erected, until 1994 when the border moved to the junction of Chancery Lane. In 1394 the Ward of Farringdon Without was created, but only the south side of Holborn was under its jurisdiction with some minor properties, such as parts of Furnival's Inn, on the northern side, "above Bars". The rest of the area "below Bars" (outside the City's jurisdiction) was organised by the vestry board of St Andrew's parish. Thus the original part of Holborn was never incorporated into the Metropolitan Borough of Holbornmarker. The Metropolitan Borough of Holbornmarker was created in 1899. It was abolished in 1965 and its area now forms part of the London Borough of Camdenmarker.

In the 18th century, Holborn was the location of the infamous Mother Clap's molly house but in the modern era High Holborn has become a centre for entertainment venues to suit more general tastes: 22 inns or taverns were recorded in the 1860s and the Holborn Empiremarker, originally Weston's Music Hallmarker, stood between 1857 and 1960, when it was pulled down after structural damage sustained in the Blitz. The theatre premièred the first full-length feature film in 1914, The World, the Flesh and the Devil, a 50-minute melodrama filmed in Kinemacolour.

Charles Dickens took up residence in Furnival's Innmarker, on the site of the former Prudential building designed by Alfred Waterhouse and named "Holborn Bars". Dickens also put his character "Pip", in Great Expectations, in residence at Barnard's Innmarker opposite, the current home of Gresham Collegemarker, and Staple Innmarker, notable as the promotional image for "Old Holborn" tobacco. The three of these were Inns of Chancery. The most northerly of the Inns of Court, Gray's Innmarker, is in Holborn, as is Lincoln's Innmarker: the area has been associated with the legal professions since mediaeval times. Subsequently the area diversified and become recognisable as the modern street. A plaque stands at number 120 commemorating Thomas Earnshaw's invention of the Marine chronometer, which facilitated long-distance travel. At the corner of Hatton Garden was the old family department store of Gamages. Until 1992, the London Weather Centre was located in the street. The Prudential insurance company relocated in 2002. The Daily Mirror offices used to be directly opposite it, but the site is now occupied by the J Sainsbury head office.

Further east, in the gated avenue of Ely Placemarker, is St Etheldreda's Churchmarker, originally the chapel of the Bishop of Ely’s London palace. This ecclesiastical connection allowed the street to remain part of the county of Cambridgeshire until the mid 1930s. This meant that the Mitre Tavern, located in a court hidden behind the buildings of the Place and the Garden was subject to the Cambridgeshire Magistrates to grant its licence. St Etheldreda's is the oldest church building used for Roman Catholic worship in London, but this became so only after it ceased to be an Anglican chapel in the 19th century.

Hatton Gardenmarker, the centre of the diamond trade, was leased to a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Christopher Hatton at the insistence of the Queen to provide him with an income. Behind the Prudential Building lies the Anglo-Catholic church of St Alban the Martyr. Originally built in 1863 by architect William Butterfield it was destroyed in 1941 and a new church was built in the Victorian Gothic style. The current vicar is the Venerable Howard Levett. On the southern side lie Chancery Lanemarker and Fetter Lanemarker.

On Holborn Circusmarker lies the Church of St Andrewmarker, an ancient Guild Church that survived the Great Fire of Londonmarker. However the parochial authority decided to commission Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild it. Although the nave was destroyed in the Blitz, the reconstruction was faithful to Wren's original. In the middle of the Circus there is a large equestrian statue of Prince Albert by Charles Bacon (1874), the City's official monument to him. It was presented by Charles Oppenheim, of the Diamond Trading Company De Beers, whose headquarters building is in nearby Charterhouse Street.

In the early 21st century, Holborn has become the site of new offices and hotels: for example, the old Pearl Assurance building near the junction with Kingsway has been converted to an hotel. These exploit the excellent public transport links (Holborn underground station is the junction of the Central and Piccadilly lines) and the strategic location between the City of Londonmarker and the West Endmarker.


For education within the Westminster portion of Holborn see the main City of Westminster article.

Transport and locale

Nearest places

Nearest underground stations

Notable people

The following is a list of notable people who were born in Holborn or are significantly connected with Holborn.


  • a. Pronunciation: The authoritative BBC pronunciation unit recommends " ", but allowing "sometimes also hohl-buhrn". The organisation's less formal Pronouncing British Placenames notes that "You'll occasionally find towns where nobody can agree...Holborn in central London has for many years been pronounced 'hoe-bun', but having so few local residents to preserve this, it's rapidly changing to a more natural 'hol-burn'". However, Modern British and American English pronunciation (2008) cites "Holborn" as one of its examples of a common word where the "l" is silent. The popular tourist guide The Rough Guide to Britain sticks to the traditional form, with neither "l" nor "r": .



Image:142_Holborn_Bars,_London.jpg|Holborn Bars, built as the headquarters of the Prudential Assurance CompanyImage:J Sainsbury HQ 1.jpg|The headquarters of J Sainsbury plcmarker at Holborn CircusImage:Staple Inn 1.jpg|Staple Innmarker building near Chancery Lane tube stationmarkerImage:Grange Holborn Hotel.jpg|Grange Holborn Hotel in HolbornImage:High Holborn 1.jpg|High HolbornmarkerImage:Gray's Inn entrance.jpg|Entrance to Gray's Innmarker

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