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Clapham is an area of South Londonmarker, Englandmarker, in the London Borough of Lambethmarker.


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' 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. Its domesday assets were 3 hide; 6 ploughs, 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 eighteenth and early nineteenth century it was favoured by the wealthier merchant classes of the City of Londonmarker, who built many large and gracious houses and villas around Clapham Commonmarker 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 there 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. Most of their grand houses had been demolished by the middle of the twentieth century, though a few remain around the Common and in the Old Town, as do a substantial number of fine late eighteenth and early nineteenth century houses. In the twentieth century, Clapham was seen as an unremarkable suburb, often cited as representing the ordinary people: hence the so-called "man on the Clapham omnibus".

However, in recent years it has undergone considerable gentrification, and is now regarded as a fashionable place to live for the middle classes, within easy commuting distance of the city centre and the main railway termini for transport to airports at Heathrowmarker and Gatwickmarker and the south of England. It is considered a hub for 20 somethings who move here after University.

Clapham was located in the county of Surreymarker until the creation of the County of London in 1889. It became part of the new Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworthmarker in 1900. In 1965, the Metropolitan Borough was divided. Almost all of the historic parish of Clapham was transferred to the London Borough of Lambethmarker The areas to the south-west and north-west of Clapham Common, which had historically been part of the parish of Batterseamarker, but had used Clapham addresses since they were developed, became part of the London Borough of Wandsworthmarker.

Famous former and current residents


Clapham has three tube stations, all on the Northern Line:

It should be noted that the important station called Clapham Junctionmarker is not located in Clapham but is in fact in Batterseamarker. The station was opened in 1863 and it was decided at the time to name it after the nearby district of Clapham, which was felt to be a better association than with the then somewhat downmarket, impoverished district of Battersea. Today, however, Battersea is a thriving and increasingly up-market community and confusion over the station's name still continues to cause problems with visitors and some new residents and retailers. A local campaign (SW11TCH Back to Battersea) has been set-up to educate local people about the distinction between Clapham and Battersea.


There are a number of shopping areas in and around Clapham that include:

  • Clapham High Street
  • Clapham Old Town
  • Abbeville Road (and Clapham South)
  • Clapham Junction (and Northcote Road)

Nearest places


Association football (soccer) club Clapham Rovers F.C., winners of the FA Cup in 1880, were based in Clapham.

See also

References and notes

  1. Surrey Domesday Book
  2. Old Clapham, John William Grover, A. Bachhoffner, London, 1892
  3. English Heritage Blue Plaque listing

External links

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