Main Births etc
Coordinates: 51°27′48″N 0°08′02″W / 51.46323, -0.13394

Clapham is located in Greater London

 Clapham shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ2966375422
London borough Lambeth
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SW4
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
London Assembly Lambeth and Southwark
List of places: UK • England • London

Clapham (play /ˈklæpəm/) is a district in south west London, England, within the London Borough of Lambeth.

Clapham covers the postcodes of SW4 and parts of SW9 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 town centre had a joint population of 65,513[1] inhabitants. Clapham is made up of Clapham Common and Clapham Town and the northern part of Thornton ward (the southern part is in Balham). Parts of Clapham North lie within the Brixton electoral ward of Ferndale and the Stockwell electoral ward of Larkhall.

Clapham is well known for its extensive 220 acre green space Clapham Common, which features three ponds and is overlooked by large Georgian and Victorian mansions, 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. Abbeville or the Village is an affluent district within Clapham lying between Clapham Common South Side and Clarence Avenue and is synonymous with the Clapham Common Ward. The area is centred around small parades of mainly upmarket independent shops and restaurants within a longer, otherwise residential road and has a village-like feel. Clapham South is a largely residential area encompassing the Southern parts of the Common including Clapham Common Westside and the streets radiating off the Southside and Cavendish Road including the Southern section of Kings Avenue leading up to Balham. Clapham Town consists of Clapham High Street and the residential streets running off the high street including Venn Street Market and Clapham Manor Road. Some of South London's priciest residential streets can be found in Clapham, including The Chase, Macaulay Road, Orlando Road, Grafton Square, Elms Grove, Elms Road and Rodenhurst Road as well as the North, South and West sides of Clapham Common.

Clapham North lies on either side of Clapham Road and borders Stockwell on Union Road and Stirling Road. There is a Stockwell Town Partnership sign north of Union Road demarcating the boundary between Clapham North and Stockwell. The northern part of Clapham North lying within the Larkhall Ward includes the architecturally significant Sibella conservation area which is generally considered more affluent, whilst the southern part lies within Ferndale ward and includes Landor, Ferndale and Bedford roads. This area borders on to Brixton SW9 and is generally considered less affluent, with a mix of council blocks and private converted Victorian housing.

Clapham has excellent transport links to the rest of London and the UK. Three tube stations - Clapham North, Clapham Common and Clapham South - serve the area, in addition to the Victoria Line stations in nearby Stockwell and Brixton. There are railway stations at Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road which link Clapham to Victoria, London Bridge and Clapham Junction. The Overground East London tube line is due to be extended to Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road in the Old Town, on 9 December 2012.[2] This will link Clapham to places like the Docklands, Shoreditch, Highbury and Islington.


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.

The present day Clapham High Street is an ancient "diversion" of the Roman military road Stane Street, which ran from London to Chichester. This followed the line of Clapham Road and then onward along the line of Abbeville Road.[3] The ancient status of that military road is recorded on a Roman stone now placed by the entrance of Clapham Library in the Old Town, which was discovered during building operations at Clapham Common South Side in 1912. Erected by vitus Ticinius Ascanius according to its inscription, it is estimated to date from the 1st century.[4][5]

According to the history of the Clapham family maintained by the College of Heralds, in 965 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.[6]

In the late 17th century, large country houses began to be built there, and throughout the 18th and early 19th 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.[7]

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. Other notable residents of Clapham Common were Palace of Westminster architect Sir Charles Barry,[8] Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg [9] and 20th century novelist Graham Greene.[10] John Francis Bentley,[11] architect of Westminster Cathedral, lived in the adjacent Old Town.

In the late 18th and early 19th 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 20th century, though a number remain around the Common and in the Old Town, as do a substantial number of fine late 18th and early 19th century houses. Today's Clapham is an area of varied housing from the large Queen Anne, Regency and Georgian era homes of the Old Town and Clapham Common to the grids of Victorian housing in the Abbeville area. As in much of London, the area has its fair share of council-owned properties on estates dating from the 1930s and 1960s.

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.

20th and 21st centuries[]

In the early 20th century, Clapham was seen as an ordinary commuter suburb, often cited as representing ordinary people: hence the so-called "Man on the Clapham omnibus". By the 1980s the area had undergone a further 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. Today Clapham is an affluent multi-cultural neighbourhood, home to middle-class British professionals, overseas (Irish, 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 situated there. Most recently, there has been a surge in the numbers of young, highly educated Irish settling in the area.

Clapham has a large number of restaurants, bars, cafes, boutiques, wine bars 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 of London and West End 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
  • David Calder
  • Angela Carter
  • Brian Dowling
  • Michael Duberry
  • Huw Edwards
  • Barry Fantoni
  • Sarah Ferguson (formerly HRH The Duchess of York until divorce)
  • Graham Greene - author
  • Ainsley Harriott - chef
  • Gerry Healy
  • Lena Headey
  • Damon Hill
  • Thomas Johnson, mathematician, tactician
  • Paul Kaye
  • John Keegan
  • Marie Kendall - music hall star
  • Doon Mackichan

  • 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
  • Mark Steel
  • Lytton Strachey
  • Mark Thomas
  • Henry Thornton
  • Polly Toynbee
  • Dennis Waterman actor
  • Holly Willoughby
  • Orlando Weeks
  • Vivienne Westwood fashion designer
  • Jacquetta Wheeler
  • William Wilberforce
  • Basil Walpole
  • Patrick Wolf[12]
  • Christopher Wood novelist and screenwriter[13]


There are two railway stations in the area both served by London Overground's East London Line:

  • Clapham High Street
  • Wandsworth Road

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
  • Brixton High St/Brixton Market (Brixton)
  • Queenstown Road/Lavender Hill
  • Balham High Road/Bedford Hill (Balham)
  • Kings Road (Chelsea)

Nearest places[]


  • Football club Clapham Rovers F.C., winners of the FA Cup in 1880, were based in Clapham.

See also[]

  • Clapham Park
  • Clapham Sect
  • London Riot 2011
  • The man on the Clapham omnibus

References and notes[]

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Clapham. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.