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Clapham London Guide

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Clapham London Guide

As one of the trendier places to live in London, Clapham's lively vibe attracts social professionals from all over the world. Clapham London has spread outwards over the years, ...

As one of the trendier places to live in London, Clapham’s lively vibe attracts social professionals from all over the world. Clapham London has spread outwards over the years, and now straddles both the Lambeth and Wandsworth boroughs. It can broadly be divided into four areas – Clapham North, Clapham Old Town, Clapham South and Clapham Junction and is one of the most popular places to live in London. It’s nearest neighbour is the trendy Brixton so you won’t be short of places to go for a night out close to home. With a distance of two miles between North and Junction, these areas are reasonably distinct and can each be considered to have their own particular ‘tribes’. Famous faces such as JK Rowling, Piers Morgan and the Redgrave acting clan have all lived there at some point, so whichever area you choose, you’ll probably be in good company.

On a map

Clapham is nestled in between Battersea and Brixton, in the post code SW4.

History

Clapham history

Photo credit: www.ideal-homes.org.uk

With records dating back over 1000 years, Clapham has certainly had a long and interesting history. It was mentioned in the Domesday book as ‘Clopeham’, and grew from a small village in rural Surry to become an upper-class area in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During this time many social reformers moved into the area, including a group who came to be known as ‘The Clapham Sect’. William Wilberforce was one of the more famous members, and actually led his campaign for the abolition of slavery from Clapham. The arrival of the railway transformed the Clapham demographic, as the upper classes moved out and it became a commuter suburb for the working classes from around 1900 onwards. The area was quite badly bombed during the Second World War, and a number of air raid shelters can still be seen around Clapham. In the 1980s a regeneration program began and the area began to become gentrified once more. Due to its location across the river from Knightsbride and Chelsea, the middle classes began migrate south, and now Clapham is known for being affluent and middle class. However, neighbouring areas like Brixton and Stockwell keep the area multi-cultural and diverse.

Transport from Clapham London

Image credit: Gareth Williams

Image credit: Gareth Williams

Another main draw of Clapham, particularly for the City workers, are the great transport links. From Clapham Junction station, you can get into London within 10 minutes by train. Not only this, but you can get as far away from London as possible too. Trains from Clapham Junction go to the likes of Hastings, Gatwick Airport, Portsmouth and much more.

Cost of living in Clapham

The cost of renting in Clapham has risen steadily over the last few years. However, depending on which part of Clapham you choose it’s still possible to find a bargain. Council tax is also something to consider – with Clapham stretching over the boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth, you could find yourself paying double the amount on the Lambeth side (Clapham North, and some of Old Town and Clapham South) or enjoying some of the cheapest council tax in England on the Wandsworth side! Average rent for a one-bed flat: £1,800 pcm Average rent for a two-bed flat: £1,950 pcm

Clapham North

Clapham North outside the station

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

While the majority of this area has already been gentrified, Clapham North is last to receive this treatment. As a result it’s considered to be the scruffier end, making it cheaper and popular with recent graduates and students who make the most of the nearby bars and clubs of Clapham High Street. Clapham North also has its own tube station (Northern line) and an overground station, which makes it ideal for commuting.

Clapham South

Clapham South, red brick period buildings in Abbeville from Rightmovecouk

Photo credit: www.rightmove.co.uk

Also popular with families and the ‘professional middle class’, Clapham South located between the eponymous tube station at the southern end of the Common, and Balham station further south. It also includes Abbeville Village, which runs adjacent to the common and is popular for its lovely gastropubs, farmers market and little antiques shops. The only downside of South is that depending on where you live, even though there is a Clapham South station stop on the Northern Line, it feels a little further out.

Clapham Old Town

Clapham Old Town, period property from jhomescouk

Photo credit: www.propertyjhomes.co.uk

With plenty of large Victorian and Georgian terrace houses, this part is popular with middle-class families who want to enjoy the short distance to Central London, while also having good schools and the expansive Clapham Common nearby. The nearest tube station is Clapham Common (Northern Line), located on the corner of the Common and the High Street.

Clapham Junction

Clapham Junction shops in a victorian building with a clocktower

Photo credit: www.geograph.org.uk

Despite the name, Clapham Junction is technically located in Battersea. With the best shopping and restaurant selection of all the four Clapham areas (check 15 great restaurants in Clapham Junction), it’s obvious why many recent graduates and young professionals moving to London choose to settle here. Families, on the other hand, tend to find it a bit too hectic so stick to the Old Town and the South. As far as transport is concerned, you’ve got Clapham North tube station (Northern Line), Clapham High Street station (Overground and Southeastern) Clapham South (Northern Line) Clapham Junction (Overground making it easy to get out of London!).

Who lives here?

People relaxing on the grass at clapham common

Photo credit: www.standard.co.uk

When most Londoners think of Clapham stereotypes, there are two distinct groups that immediately come to mind: Australians, and City Boys. However, due to its size and proximity to very multi-cultural areas such as Brixton, you can find almost every kind of person here. While the Australians and young professionals dominate the High Street on a Saturday night, come Sunday morning the cafes and the Common are full of families and students enjoying brunch from one of the many local restaurants. Old Town and Clapham South, as the pricier areas, are generally where the families settle while Clapham North and Clapham Junction have more of a student vibe, with lots of flat shares on offer and many nearby bars. If you’re visiting Clapham Junction, we’ve just reviewed some of the best places to eat near Clapham Junction and 15 of the best things about the area.
Hello! I'm Cat Byers, one of Movebubble's resident experts and researchers, alongside my work as a freelance writer, photographer and food stylist. My work keeps me up to date on the best new food events and openings in London, so I love to write about new pop-ups and places to go out! I also write London area guides, advice and information for renters.

Comments ( 4 )

  1. ReplyPoppy Davison
    I guess Clapham is a really diverse from the materials I've read so far. I've never lived here, but I've been to Clapham Common numerous times and have always enjoyed it. I also often go to a small book store called Clapham books, whenever I'm visiting the area. I actually read about it in another article, I believe it was on christianreese blog living-in-clapham. I may move to Clapham some day. Maybe to the less expensive parts of it. We'll see. Clapham Junction is not in Clapham?! lol, this always sounds so funny to me even though I've known this fact for quite some time.
  2. ReplyAlicia
    Hi there! I'm relocating to the UK to work in Marketing and I'm thinking about settling in Clapham Junction to save time comuting. But I've read that the neighbourhood is bad and I'm a little frightened now. However, your article seems to be saying quite the opposite. Is it safe? Is it a good place to live? Thank you very much !!!!
    • Carly Klineberg
      Hey there Alicia. I know plenty of people that live in Clapham Junction and none of them would describe it as bad or rough, and nether would I. Of course like in any big city you should take some level of care, like locking your doors and not leaving your bag out in plain sight when you're in a bar or restaurant but other than that I wouldn't be worried - that would apply to anywhere in London. It's an area that's full of young professionals, great places to eat, shops and it's good for commuting. I suggest that when you get the the UK you spend a couple of days getting to know the area, and make up your own mind. Clapham Junction is in an area of London called Battersea - we have a guide to Battersea on the blog too if you want to check it out. Hope that helps!
  3. ReplyBen
    As well as Abbeville Rd and Old Town, another popular family area is the "Northside" - this is the name for the streets off the common in between Clapham Common tube and Clapham Junction. Here you can walk to tube or mainline stations, and be near the common. The houses are quite varied there, ranging from huge £7m detached mansions to terraced 3-5 bedroom Victorian family properties. As the article says, it's a bit cheaper although more urban around Clapham North.

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