Clapham shown within Greater London
OS grid reference London borough Lambeth Ceremonial county Greater London Region London Country England Sovereign state United Kingdom Post town LONDON Postcode district SW4, SW12, SW9, Dialling code 020 Police Metropolitan Fire London Ambulance London EU Parliament London London Assembly Lambeth and Southwark List of places: UK • England • London
Clapham covers the postcodes of SW4 and parts of SW9, SW8 and SW12. Clapham Common is shared with the London Borough of Wandsworth, although Lambeth has responsibility for running the common as a whole. According to the 2001 census Clapham (and Stockwell) had a joint population of 65,513 inhabitants. Clapham contains three whole wards Clapham Common, Clapham Town and Thornton, but parts of Ferndale (Brixton) and Larkhall (Stockwell) wards also lie within Clapham proper.
Clapham is best known for its vast green space Clapham Common, its high street and the village-like atmosphere of its historic Old Town. Clapham is famous as the home of Holy Trinity Clapham the Georgian Church on Clapham Common, from where The Clapham Sect led by William Wilberforce and a group of upper class evangelical Christians campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade in the 19th century.
Clapham dates back to Anglo-Saxon times: the name is thought to derive from the Old English clopp(a) + hām or hamm, meaning Homestead/enclosure near a hill.
According to the history of the Clapham family maintained by the College of Heralds, in 965 AD King Edgar of England gave a grant of land at Clapham to Jonas, son of the Duke of Lorraine, and Jonas was thenceforth known as Jonas "de [of] Clapham". The family remained in possession of the land until Jonas's great-great grandson Arthur sided against William the Conqueror during the Norman invasion of 1066 and, losing the land, fled to the north (where the Clapham family remained thereafter, primarily in Yorkshire).
Clapham appears in Domesday Book as Clopeham. It was held by Goisfrid (Geoffrey) de Mandeville and its domesday assets were 3 hides; 6 ploughs, 5 acres (20,000 m2) of meadow. It rendered £7 10s 0d, and was located in Brixton hundred.
In the late seventeenth century large country houses began to be built there, and throughout the 18th and early nineteenth century it was favoured by the wealthier merchant classes of the City of London, who built many large and gracious houses and villas around Clapham Common and in the Old Town. Samuel Pepys spent the last two years of his life in Clapham, living with his friend, protégé at the Admiralty and former servant William Hewer, until his death in 1703.
Clapham Common was also home to Elizabeth Cook, the widow of Captain James Cook the explorer. She lived in a house on the common for many years following the death of her husband.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the Clapham Sect were a group of upper class (mostly evangelical Anglican) social reformers who lived around the Common. They included William Wilberforce, Henry Thornton and Zachary Macaulay, father of the historian Thomas Macaulay, as well as William Smith, M.P., the Dissenter and Unitarian. They were very prominent in campaigns for the abolition of slavery and child labour, and for prison reform. They also promoted missionary activities in Britain's colonies.
After the coming of the railways, Clapham developed as a suburb for commuters into central London, and by 1900 it had fallen from favour with the upper classes. Many of their grand houses had been demolished by the middle of the twentieth century, though a number remain around the Common and in the Old Town, as do a substantial number of fine late eighteenth and early nineteenth century houses.
20th and 21st centuries
In the early twentieth century, Clapham was seen as an ordinary commuter suburb, often cited as representing ordinary people: hence the so-called "man on the Clapham omnibus". Clapham was located in the county of Surrey until the creation of the County of London in 1889. It became part of the new Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth in 1900. In 1965, the old Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth was divided and almost all of the historic parish of Clapham was transferred to the London Borough of Lambeth.
By the 1980s Clapham had undergone considerable transformation becoming the centre for the gentrification of most of the surrounding area. Clapham's proximity to the traditionally upper-class areas of Sloane Square and Belgravia, which became increasingly unaffordable to all but the very wealthy in the boom years of the 1980s and 1990s, led to a colonisation of the area by the middle classes, but in recent years the demography has widened considerably. Today Clapham is a multi-cultural neighbourhood with many foreign (African, Caribbean, South-American, European, Australian and North-American) residents, middle-class people of BME origin and a vibrant Gay community choosing to live there. Many young university graduates and students also choose to live in the Clapham area, a tradition carried over from the days when some University of London halls of residence were located there.
Clapham is home to a large number of restaurants, bars, cafes and leisure facilities. As a result it is now regarded as a fashionable and desirable place to live for the British middle classes and is within easy commuting distance of the city centre and the main railway termini for transport to airports at Heathrow and Gatwick and the south of England.
Famous former and current residents
- Henry Allingham
- John Amaechi
- Kingsley Amis
- Lesley Ash - actress
- Frank Baines
- Natasha Bedingfield - singer
- John Francis Bentley
- Jo Brand - comedienne
- Jeremy Brett - actor
- Charlie Brooker
- David Calder
Cathrine Hart* Angela Carter
- Tony Mansfield, pop producer.
- Miriam Margolyes actress
- Alfred Marshall
- Donald Maxwell
- Heather Mills
- Julie Myerson
- Chris O'Dowd
- John O'Farrell
- Neil Pearson
- Samuel Pepys
- Corin Redgrave actor
- Vanessa Redgrave actress
- Kelly Reilly
- JK Rowling author
- Natsume Soseki
- Lytton Strachey
- Mark Thomas
- Henry Thornton
- Polly Toynbee
- Dennis Waterman actor
- Orlando Weeks
- Vivienne Westwood fashion designer
- Jacquetta Wheeler
- William Wilberforce
- Patrick Wolf
There are two railway stations in the area:
Clapham Junction, in neighbouring Battersea is Clapham's nearest major rail station.
London Underground's Northern Line runs through the neighbourhood, with three stations. From north to south these are:
- Clapham North (opened as Clapham Road in 1900, changed to its current name in 1926).
- Clapham Common
- Clapham South
There are a number of shopping areas in or near Clapham, including:
- Clapham High Street
- Clapham Old Town, home to the 30 year old North Street Potters, The Sun, a welcoming Free House and Trinity, a critically acclaimed restaurant.
- Abbeville Road (and Clapham South)
- Northcote Road (Between Clapham and Wandsworth Commons)
- Nightingale Lane (near Clapham South)
- Clapham Junction (Battersea)
- Brixton/Brixton Market (Brixton)
- Queenstown Road/Lavender Hill(Battersea)
- Balham High Road/Bedford Hill (Balham)
- Kings Road (Chelsea)
References and notes
London Borough of Lambeth Districts Attractions Bridges Parks and open spaces Constituencies Other topicsPeople · Public art · Schools
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