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Clapham Common at 220 acres (89 ha)
Clapham Common at 220 acres (89 ha)

Clapham (/ˈklæp.əm/) is a district of south-west London lying mostly within the London Borough of Lambeth, but with some areas (most notably Clapham Common) extending into the neighbouring London Borough of Wandsworth.

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  • London Clapham Walking Tour
  • Clapham, London "What to know"
  • Clapham Common Living
  • Yorkshire Dales Country Walk Clapham to Ingleborough Cave and Gaping Gill round
  • Full Journey on London Overground from Clapham Junction to Highbury & Islington (via Surrey Quays)


Pip-pip Tally ho!! Joolz Guides here With a "you're nicked me old beauty, how's your father, it's a fair cop guv'nor!" I'm standing outside Wandsworth prison because I'm gonna head over towards Clapham Or "Claaarm" as Posh people say. It's actually Britain's largest prison And it was built in 1851 it really looks quite foreboding actually those Victorians sure knew how to make scary looking lugubrious buildings I can really imagine this in a Charles Dickens story, I don't if you ever seen a film called let him have it It was very sad actually, around 1952 there was a fellow called Derek Bentley and his accomplice They were doing a robbery and they were interrupted by a policeman and Bentley's accomplice, Chris Craig, had a gun so Bentley said "let him have it, Chris!" and Chris shot the policeman But he claimed he meant "let him have it" as in "let him have the gun" So unfortunately Derek Bentley was sent here before he was eventually hanged Even though he didn't fire the shots He was over 18 and Chris Craig who did shoot the policeman was let off because he was under 18 They also put Ronald Biggs in here, the famous great train robber He escaped in 1965 and climbed the wall with a rope ladder I don't know how he got hold of a rope ladder Maybe tied some sheets together.You'd think they'd be wise to that old trick He jumped on top of the laundry van And I'm absconded to Brazil where he stayed and recorded his music for the Sex Pistols and stuff He's in that film "The Great Rock n Roll swindle, isn't he. They got him eventually though Can't believe they stuck poor Oscar Wilde in there as well He did the first six months of his sentence there before they sent him off to Redding jail Gross indecency was the charge I believe.. This is a Clapham Junction Clapham Junction used to be a signal box in that eighteen hundreds.Then it just grew to be the most busy Station in Britain or in the world I think, but I don't think it is anymore That's probably someplace in Japan or something isn't it I? I quite like the.... it looks kind of Victorian the architecture and stuff around here That's lavender Hill up there as in the film the Lavender Hill mob That debenhams there. It was originally an Arding and Hobbs, and it still got some some remnants from its original Art deco look like the ceiling inside, and we removed so many of these things in London But what I like about Clapham is it still retains a lot of these old buildings ever been to the Clapham Grand, Simon? When it was opened up in 1900 it was a music hall for variety acts Now it's just an occasional nightclub theatre or events venue Clapham was quite a backwater in those days And there was a judge who first used the expression "the man on the Clapham omnibus" to describe a hypothetical reasonable person against whom the defendant's conduct can be measured and became kind of legal terminology And ever since then it's passed into common parlance as meaning your ordinary bloke in the street - your man on the Clapham omnibus apparently in those days clapping was a pretty unremarkable place But I tell you what it isn't anymore. Pretty expensive around here now funny enough Clapham junction isn't actually in Clapham, it's in Battersea, so it shouldn't be called Clapham Junction station But here, interestingly, around the corner just in Barnard's Road Just behind Marks and Spencers is what looks to be an ordinary boring car park But this is where MI5 used to get their cars suped up and fixed... so James Bond... No he was mi6 wasn't he! Anyway they used to get their surveillance equipment and stuff attached their cars This is where they'd make them invisible. Stuff like that. I think the Russians discovered that they were doing here, but.... They moved it to a hidden location now, which I'm not aware of but. Yeah, it used to be right in there This is Claham Common. Clapham originally I think in anglo-saxon, clap was from clop meaning Hill and Ham meaning village So it was "village on the hill" and only a hundred people lived here in the year 1100 But after the plague loads of people started to move south because they wanted to escape the disease in the city I think the most famous person who moved here at the time was Samuel Pepys and by the 1800s it really started to attract much wealthier people, and they started building all these grand houses I think that those ones over there I know that vivienne westwood lives in one I think and since then lots of other people have moved here like Graham Greene who I see lived in that house over there Graham Greene who wrote The Third Man... Brighton Rock.... The Quiet American JK Rowling lives around here somewhere as well Maybe that's why that street over there was called Severus Street. Yeah, maybe that's where she got the name Severus Snape, yeah This is the Holy Trinity Church where William Wilberforce used to worship with a group of Evangelical Christians and hosted meetings of what was known as the Clapham sect who were instrumental in getting the slave trade Act passed in 1807 and the abolition of slavery itself in 1833 One of the things I really like about South London is that they've still got quite a lot of this Victorian architecture I mean a lot of it seems to be red brick buildings that looks like a workhouse from Oliver Twist or something But you get quite a few of these nice things. This is excellent. You know what this is? This is a stink Pole Now around the middle of the 19th century we had something called "the great stink" which was where the sewers were overflowing and the rivers were disgusting and full of detritus and smelly faeces. Sometimes the sewers would even explode. The one down near the fleet River there was actually an explosion there near Kings Cross. So when they developed the Victorian sewage system in the 1850s they installed a whole bunch of these stink pipes. Actually what they are is ventilation shafts to let out all the smelly pooey fumes from the sewers and also to release pressure So they've got no smelly explosions and except the smelly fumes from the sewers all the way out and deliver them Over above the heads of the Victorian public. I call them pongy poles Some of them are actually really beautiful and ornate like the one down in Kennington Cross is quite a famous one But many people must walk past this and not notice it People just think it's a lamppost ...... a remnant of Victorian England If you light a match at the top of one you'll probably get a flame. I just want to say that I do not recommend lighting your own farts by the way. I mean you can if you like but I take no responsibility for the consequences I was just talking about him the other day. Look, this bench is in honor of legendary actor Jeremy Brett "love laughter an immense courage in the face of adversity inspires us all" He was Sherlock Holmes He was also in My Fair Lady. He's the one who sings I have often walked down the street before this bandstand was actually built in 1889 They renovated it some great expense But it's hardly ever used except for kids to play on And I think that is the one, though, that David Bowie has a nice photograph of himself in the 60s There's a little churchyard just along the way, used to be Lambeth's finest array of tombstones, epitaphs, trees, flowers, all that jazz, till the war came along and someone dropped a bomb on the lot. By Clapham South station is this curious-looking building, and this is excellent This is a bomb shelter. They built eight of them during the war all across London. There's definitely one at Belsize Park There's one near Goodge street. There's a few others dotted around the place. Transport for London do tours And you can go down and have a look at all the miles of tunnels underneath And they still got the old graffiti and the old original signs from the 1940s down there. It's amazing actually They didn't really finish them until 1942 though so that was when the Blitz had already finished But then again this area was heavily targeted and around 1944 They did have to reopen it and people did use it it could contain 8,000 people down there was a proper bomb shelter Yeah, Clapham was heavily targeted in the war. Not quite sure what they were trying to hit The common? The bandstand? In 1948 the first West Indian immigrants to the UK were housed in here I think 200 of them or so, they stayed in there for several weeks whilst accommodation could be found for them, and eventually a lot of them I think, settled in Brixton, because there was some labor exchange there or something Which is why there's quite a large West Indian population in in Brixton. It's hard to comprehend the space of the tunnels that must be underneath us Well I would go in to show you but I have to be honest, it does cost £38.50 to enter and I very highly doubt that they'll let me in with my camera because no one ever seems to let me in with my camera Anyway, for that price you do get free entry into the London transport Museum. I never thought it wouldn't happen with me and the girl from Clapham, out on a windy Common that night, I ain't forgotten. You know that song? Up the junction.... by Squeeze This must be one of those boundary markers. I like stuff like this, but you can't read what it says on it. Besides being one of the largest green spaces in South London Clapham Common does also have the dubious honor of being the location and venue of the first-ever modeling job that I did, which was right here in this lake! That's Fascinating, Julian!! How dare you! It's interesting in that you don't have cigarette ads anymore They're not allowed anymore, and then I went on to the huge career and success that I'm now enjoying, Simon You're just jealous to ordinary rice Extraordinary rise! According to this that was the largest bandstand in London As if anyone cares. I didn't realize how many famous people lived here Benjamin Franklin he pops up all over the place. What's he doing here? At least there's no Charles Dickens shows up bloody everywhere I love that they still have these original shop fronts on the news agents down here. They're so characterful. they got rid of those where I live. Be really careful if you're drunk on this platform. Speaking of which I could do with a drink, Simon. What about you? Don't forget to hit the subscribe button the red blutton Thanks for watching, and if you enjoy my films don't forget to hit the subscribe button the red button below and if you're interested in having a private tour of London then just visit my website where you can find out more about me and even throw me a donation on Paypal or become my patreon (as if you wanted to!)



Early history

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.[1] The ancient status of that military road is recorded on a Roman stone now placed by the entrance of the former 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.[2][3]

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; and 5 acres (20,000 m2) of meadow. It rendered £7 10s 0d, and was located in Brixton hundred.[4]

The parish comprised 4.99 square kilometres (1.93 sq mi). The benefice remains to this day a rectory, and in the 19th century was in the patronage of the Atkins family: the tithes were commuted for £488 14s. in the early 19th century, and so the remaining glebe comprised only 11 acres in 1848. The church, which belonged to Merton Priory was, with the exception of the north aisle, which was left standing for the performance of the burial service, taken down under an act of parliament in 1774, and a new church erected in the following year at an expense of £11,000 (equivalent to £1,270,182 in 2016), on the north side of the common.[5]

Clapham in the 17th–19th centuries

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.[6]

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 include Palace of Westminster architect Sir Charles Barry,[7] Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg [8] and 20th century novelist Graham Greene.[9] John Francis Bentley,[10] 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 wealthy City merchants (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 MP, 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. The Society for Missions to Africa and the East (as the Church Mission Society was first called) was founded on 12 April 1799 at a meeting of the Eclectic Society, supported by members of the Clapham Sect, who met under the guidance of John Venn (priest), the Rector of Clapham.[11] By contrast, an opponent of Wilberforce, merchant and slave-trader George Hibbert also lived at Clapham Common, worshipping in the same church, Holy Trinity.[12]

Clapham in the 20th and 21st centuries

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 also has its fair share of council-owned social housing on estates dating from the 1930s and 1960s.

In the early 20th century, Clapham was seen as an ordinary commuter suburb, often cited as representing ordinary people: hence the familiar "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 relative proximity to traditionally expensive areas of central London led to an increase in the number of middle-class people living in Clapham. Today the area is generally an affluent place, although many of its professional residents live relatively close to significant pockets of social housing.

Local government

A map showing the Clapham wards of Wandsworth Metropolitan Borough as it appeared in 1916.
A map showing the Clapham wards of Wandsworth Metropolitan Borough as it appeared in 1916.

Clapham was an ancient parish in the county of Surrey.[13] For poor law purposes the parish became part of the Wandsworth and Clapham Union in 1836.[14] The parish was added to the Registrar General London Metropolis area in 1844 and consequently it came within the area of responsibility of the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1855. The population of 16,290 in 1851 was considered too small for the Clapham vestry to be a viable sanitary authority and the parish was grouped into the Wandsworth District, electing 18 members to the Wandsworth District Board of Works.[15] In 1889 the parish was transferred to the County of London and in 1900 it became part of the new Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth. It was abolished as a civil parish in 1904, becoming part of the single Wandsworth Borough parish for poor law. The former Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth was divided in 1965 and the area of the historic parish of Clapham was transferred to the London Borough of Lambeth.[13]


Translated to the postal system, Clapham fills most of SW4 and as defined, at least since the Norman Conquest until 1885, includes parts of SW8, SW9 and SW12, London. Clapham Common is shared with the London Borough of Wandsworth (the border between the two boroughs runs across the common), but Lambeth has responsibility for its management. According to the 2011 census, the Clapham Area has a population of 40,850 inhabitants.[16] For administrative and electoral purposes, Clapham is made up of three Lambeth wards: Clapham Common, Clapham Town and Thornton ward. Parts of Clapham North lie within the Brixton electoral ward of Ferndale and the Stockwell electoral ward of Larkhall. The portion of the SW4 postcode north of Union Road and Stockwell Station falls within the area of Stockwell.

Much of southern Battersea is often incorrectly referred to as Clapham, because of the misnomer of 'Clapham Junction' railway station, and to stress Battersea's proximity to Clapham Common, as well as their relative distance from Battersea's historic nucleus.[citation needed] The railway station now known as Clapham Junction was originally named Battersea Junction by its architect to reflect its actual geographical location.[citation needed]


According to the 2011 census, White British is the largest ethnic group, at 51% of the population, followed by 16% Other White.[17]

Clapham Common

Clapham High St
Clapham High St

Clapham Common comprises 220 acres of green space, criss-crossed by footpaths, with three ponds, a Victorian bandstand and a large number of mature trees, including horse chestnuts and a significant avenue of London plane trees along Long Road. It is overlooked by a variety of buildings, including a number of Georgian and Victorian mansions. It also has Holy Trinity Clapham, an 18th-century Georgian church, important in the history of the evangelical Clapham Sect. Clapham Town comprises Clapham High Street and residential streets including Clapham Manor Street, home to Clapham Leisure Centre, as well as Venn Street with a cinema, restaurants, and a food market held every weekend throughout the year.

Clapham South

The neighbourhood, where used, derives its name from a tube station—it has no fixed boundary from the rest of Clapham. Taking any definition in informal use, it is predominantly mid-rise and low-rise residential land, and usually takes in major parts of the Common. Where regard to historic Clapham parish and some street signs is had, this area includes a detached part: the land bounded by Nightingale Square, Oldridge Road and Balham Hill.

Clapham North

Clapham North lies on either side of Clapham Road and borders the relatively modern creation 'Stockwell' in the historic Lambeth parish on Union Road and Stirling Road. There is a "Stockwell Town" Partnership sign north of Union Road demarcating the boundary between Clapham and Stockwell. The northern part of Clapham in the Larkhall ward includes the Sibella conservation area. The southern part is Ferndale ward and includes Landor, Ferndale and Bedford roads leading up to Brixton.


As well as an extensive bus network, which connects the area with much of south and central London, Clapham has three tube stations and two railway stations.

There are two railway stations in the district on London Overground's East London Line:

London Underground's Northern line passes through Clapham, with three stations:

In 2012, the Overground East London Line was extended to Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road stations.[18] This links Clapham directly to stations including Shepherds Bush, Canary Wharf, Shoreditch and Highbury and Islington.

There are train services to London Victoria (Westminster) and London Waterloo (the South Bank). See Clapham Junction.


Shopping areas comprise:

  • Clapham Old Town, which includes pubs and restaurants.
  • Clapham High Street
  • Abbeville Road (and Clapham South)
  • Nightingale Lane (on borders of Clapham South) l *Clapham Road, includes diverse amount of different shops


Notable former and current residents

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ "A Short History of Clapham and Stockwell". Archived from the original on 3 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  2. ^ Historic England. "Roman Altar in forecourt of number 1 (public library) (1080492)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  3. ^ "Photograph of Roman stone at Clapham Library". Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  4. ^ Surrey Domesday Book Archived 15 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Samuel Lewis (publisher) (1848). "Clackheaton - Clare". A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  6. ^ Old Clapham, John William Grover, A. Bachhoffner, London, 1892. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Sir Charles Barry plaque listing on Open Plaques". Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Norway in Britain website Edvard Greig plaque listing". Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  9. ^ "English Heritage plaque listing for Graham Greene". 1 April 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  10. ^ "John Francis Bentley plaque listing on Open Plaques". Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  11. ^ Mounstephen, Philip (2015). "Teapots and DNA: The Foundations of CMS". Intermission. 22.
  12. ^ "George Hibbert (1757-1837)". George Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  13. ^ a b H.E. Malden (editor) (1912). "Parishes: Clapham". A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  14. ^ "Clapham Holy Trinity AP/CP through time - Census tables with data for the Parish-level Unit".
  15. ^ "Victoriae Reginae" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  16. ^ "State of the Borough 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  17. ^ Services, Good Stuff IT. "Clapham Town - UK Census Data 2011". UK Census Data. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  18. ^ "Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction extension | Transport for London". 9 December 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  19. ^ "Movies". Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  20. ^ Cozens, Ken. "George Hibbert, of Clapham - 18th Century Merchant and "Amateur Horticulturalist"". Merchant Networks. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  21. ^ Julie Myerson. "How I wrote the biography of an ordinary terraced house". The Guardian.
  22. ^ William Langley (26 November 2006). "Profile: Polly Toynbee". The Daily Telegraph.
  23. ^ "London Plaques : Blue Plaques : Research & Conservation : English Heritage".
  24. ^ Wood, Christopher (2006). James Bond, The Spy I Loved. Twenty First Century Publishers. p. 104. ISBN 9781904433538.
  25. ^ "Margot Robbie 'living student life'". Belfast Telegraph.

Further reading

  • Daniel Lysons (1792), "Clapham", Environs of London, 1: County of Surrey, London: T. Cadell
  • James Thorne (1876), "Clapham", Handbook to the Environs of London, London: John Murray

External links

  • Media related to Clapham at Wikimedia Commons
This page was last edited on 7 November 2018, at 03:53
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