Old and New London, A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places.Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources. vol 6Walford, Edward
Brixton and Clapham.
Brixton and Clapham.
Leaving Streatham Park on our left, we now make our way northward, by way of Streatham Hill and Tulse Hill, to Brixton. The Royal Asylum of Society, which we pass on our right, was founded in ,
The institution is pleasantly situated upon Streatham Hill, and flourishes under royal patronage. The schools, in which are taught, on an average, about children, are examined by the Syndicate of Cambridge, and the pupils are prepared for the Oxford and Cambridge local examinations. The asylum, erected in , is a handsome building of storeys, having an Ionic portico and pediment, ornamented by a sculpture of the royal arms,
Almost on the summit of , in of the most open and salubrious spots in the southern suburbs of London, stands what was till recently of the [extra_illustrations.6.320.1] for the county of Surrey; the other, Gaol, we have already described. Like nearly all the prisons constructed at the close of the last or beginning of the present century, this is planned in the form of a rude crescent, the governor's house being in the common centre. The prison was built in , being calculated for prisoners, and no more: that is, there are (or were) separate cells, and double cells, in each of which, however, bed-racks were
| fitted up, making altogether bed-racks for . This number of inmates, however, was often considerably more than doubled; and hence it became unhealthy, in spite of its admirable situation, and long enjoyed the reputation of being very disorderly. Mr. Hepworth Dixon, in his work on the |
published in , writes:
Here the tread-wheel was employed, about the year ; and from that period, down to the time when it ceased to be used as a house of correction, this prison was, , for hard labour; in fact, it was all tread-wheel, except for the females, who were employed in picking oakum and sewing.
In former times the external appearance of this prison had anything but a show of security against the escape of prisoners, the boundary-wall being much too low.
writes Mr. Dixon, at the date above mentioned,
As may be inferred from what we have stated above, this prison was of the worst, in point of management, of any in the kingdom, and the, result was that it became a perfect scandal. Access to its precincts was very rarely, if ever, afforded to the outside world; and it is on record that members of Parliament, and even the Duke of Wellington, had been refused admission. Some idea of its character, however, was afforded to the public in a pamphlet, entitled
which was published a few years ago. But a change was in store, for the old prison was sold in to Her Majesty's Government, by whom it has been converted into a convict establishment for females.
Westward of the prison, and stretching away to Balham , a large tract of land, some acres in extent, known as Bleak Hill, was, in , taken by Mr. Thomas Cubitt, the builder of Belgravia, and converted into a series of broad roads and open spaces, planted, and built over with capacious detached villas, and named Clapham Park. This was long the
but a newer and perhaps more attractive quarter has since sprung up in
which lies on the opposite side of Clapham Common.
Clapham is supposed to have received its appellation from of its ancient proprietors, Osgod Clapa, being the name of the Danish lord at whose daughter's marriage-feast Hardicanute died. Mr. Brayley, in his
however, observes that there is an objection to this supposition, inasmuch as in the Chertsey Register the place is named
as far back as the reign of Alfred. In the Domesday Survey it is entered as
Hughson, in his
(), describes Clapham as a village about miles from , and consisting of
The Common, .still about acres in extent, is bounded on the eastern side by Balham , which is a continuation of the road through which we have already described; on the north-west by ; and on the south-west by a roadway, dotted at intervals with private residences standing within their own grounds, and
Like , and such other open
| spaces of the kind as are left in the suburbs of London, Clapham Common in its time has had its fair share of patronage, either of those who delight in the healthful and invigorating game of cricket, or of those who desire a quiet stroll over its velvet-like turf. Pleasure-fairs, too, were held here on Good Friday, Easter and Whit Mondays, and on |
but these were abolished in . The Common is ornamented with a few large ponds, which add not a little to the charm of the place.
In the year the Enclosure Commissioners for England and Wales, under the Metropolitan Commons' Act, , and Metropolitan Commons' Amendment Act, , certified a scheme for placing the Common under the control of the Local Board. The Common was purchased for the sum of , and it was proposed that it should be dedicated to the use and recreation of the public for ever. By the above-mentioned scheme the Board were to drain, plant, and ornament the Common as necessary, but no houses were to be built thereon, except lodges necessary for its maintenance. The Metropolitan Board of Works having thus taken the Common under their protection, at once set to work in order to effect an improvement in its appearance, by the planting of an avenue of young trees, and the formation of new footpaths in an ornamental style. The Board also issued its mandate that no more gravel was to be dug, or turf or furze cut off the Common, and that nothing should be done to disturb its rural aspect. To this day, consequently,
is, perhaps, of the least changed of all spots round London, that is, so far as encroachment goes.
In a house a few doors from the
Inn, and facing the Common (now occupied by a fishmonger), Thomas Babington Macaulay spent the greater portion of his childhood, caring less for his toys than for books, which he read well at years' old! Here Hannah More visited the Macaulays, and, the parents being absent, was horrified at being offered a glass of spirits by the precocious child, who had learned the existence of spirits from the pages of Robinson Crusoe! The Common, at that time, had something poetic about it, at all events, to the imaginative mind of the future historian.
and his biographer, Mr. G. O. Trevelyan, records the fact that he would trace out in the hillocks of the Common an imaginary set of Alps, and an equally fanciful range of Mount Sinai. The house formerly stood back from the road, but of late years it has thrown out a shop-front, and, externally, has lost all traces of having been a private gentleman's residence. Lady Trevelyan, a sister of Lord Macaulay, lived for a time at Clapham, after breaking up her in .
on whose merits a brilliant panegyric was penned by Sir James Stephen, had its head-quarters at this house, and at that of Lord Teignmouth's, close by. The virtues of the
as they were sneeringly called, have been acknowledged even by their most strenuous opponents.
The old , which was standing at the corner of Manor Street when Priscilla Wakefield wrote her
in , and was then occupied as a ladies' school, was distinguished by a singular tower, octagonal in form.
Skirting the Common, particularly on the eastern side, are still standing several of the spacious old red-brick mansions, the abode of wealthy London merchants, which once nearly surrounded its entire area. Many have fine elms growing in the grounds before them. The place must have been well inhabited, even so far back as John Evelyn's time, for he mentions dining here, at the house of Sir Dennis Gauden, whom he accompanied thence to Windsor on business with the king. Perhaps he was a City magnate, willing to lend money to his ever impecunious sovereign. The house, which was a large roomy edifice, with a noble gallery occupying the whole length of the building, was built by Sir Dennis for his brother, Dr. John Gauden, Bishop of Exeter, the presumed author of
and after his death, in , it became the residence of Sir Dennis himself, who sold it to
Hewer, who rose from being Pepys' clerk to a high position in the civil service, but found his occupation gone at the Revolution. Sir Dennis still, however, lived here,
writes Evelyn, who was often a guest at his table; and he died here a few months after the fall of the Stuarts.
Pepys used often to visit here his friend Gauden,
Under date , he writes, in his
Later on, it seems, Pepys took up his residence here with his friend Hewer. John Evelyn writes again in his
under date :
years later, namely, on the , Evelyn made the following entry in his
He was buried, as already stated, in , .
Lord Braybrooke, in his , tells us that when he removed to Mr. Hewer's house at Clapham, he left a large portion of his correspondence behind him in , in the custody of a friend. This correspondence eventually found its way into the Bodleian Library, at Oxford. It only remains to add that Hewer's house was pulled down about the middle of the last century.
In a large house on the east side of the Common, at the corner of what is now known as , lived Mr. Henry Cavendish, the eccentric chemist, of whom we have already had occasion to speak, in our notice of . He died in , leaving more than a million to be divided among his relatives. of his eccentricities was his utter disregard of money. The bankers with whom he kept his account finding that his balance had accumulated to upwards of , commissioned of the partners to wait on him, and to ask him what he wished done with it. On reaching Clapham, and finding Mr. Cavendish's house, he rang the bell, but had the greatest difficulty in obtaining admission.
said the servant,
In about a quarter of an hour the bell rang, and the fact of the banker's arrival was duly communicated to the abstracted chemist. Mr. Cavendish, in great agitation, desired that the banker might be shown up, and as he entered the room, saluted him with a few words, asking him the object of his visit.
Cavendish lived a very retired existence, and to strangers he was most reserved. To such an extent did he carry his solitary habits, that he would never even see or allow himself to be seen by a female servant; and, as Lord Brougham relates,
His shyness was, not unnaturally, mistaken by strangers for pride. In Bruhn's
it is related that,
Cavendish, who has been styled
was distinguished as the founder of pneumatic chemistry, and for his successful researches on the composition of water, and his famous experiment, made at Clapham, for the determination of the earth's density.
wrote his cousin, the late Duke of Devonshire, in his
Almost the whole of his house here was occupied as workshops and laboratory.
A small portion only of the villa was set apart for personal comfort. The upper rooms constituted an astronomical observatory. What is now the drawingroom was the laboratory. In an adjoining room a forge was placed. The lawn was invaded by a wooden stage, from which access could be had to a large tree, to the top of which Cavendish, in the course of his astronomical, meteorological, electrical, or other researches, occasionally ascended. His library was immense, and he fixed it at a distance from his house, in order that he might not be disturbed by those who came to consult it. His own particular friends were allowed to borrow books, but neither they nor even Mr. Cavendish himself ever withdrew a book without giving a receipt for it. The mansion of Henry Cavendish, since re-fronted and considerably altered, was in the residence of Mr. H. S. Bicknell, and is known as Cavendish House.
Here and at Balham, towards the close of the last century, were many residents who belonged to the Wesleyan connexion; and it was at a friend's house at Balham that John Wesley dined and slept less than a week before his death, in .
The famous beauty, Mrs. Baldwin-who, when young, turned the head of the Prince of Wales, had her portrait painted and her bust sculptured far foreign emperors and kings, and was kissed publicly by Dr. Johnson, whom she used to meet at Mrs. Thrale's house at Streatham-lived for many years at Clapham, and died here in .
The house known as Broomfield, on the south. west side of the Common, was occupied for some years by Mr. William Wilberforce, M.P., the distinguished philanthropist; and there his no less distinguished son, Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop successively of Oxford and of Winchester, was born, on the .
Close by stood the house once occupied by Henry Thornton, the author and prime mover of the agitation for the
in which William Wilberforce took such a distinguished part. The conclave, we are told, held their meetings, for the most part, in an oval saloon which William Pitt planned to be added to Thornton's residence.
writes Sir J. Stephen, in his
In Mr. J. T. Smith's
we are introduced to of these old-fashioned mansions:--
he tells us,
The parish church, built on the north-western corner of the Common, is a dull, heavy building, a sort of cross between the London parish church of Queen Anne's time and the
of the last century. It dates from the year . Yet Macaulay was fond of it to the last. He writes, under date Clapham, :
The edifice is an ugly brick structure, with a singular dome-crowned tower at the west end. It contains a mural tablet to the memory of Dr. John Jebb,
who died in ; also a monument, by Sir Richard Westmacott, to John Thornton. The remains of the bishop are depo sited in the tomb of the Thorntons.
Priscilla Wakefield, in her
published in , writes as follows:--
Mr. J. T. Smith, the antiquary, states that the walls of the little old parish church, which was demolished to make way for its successor, were adorned with Scripture texts, painted in accordance
|with the instructions of Queen Elizabeth. The old church, however, stood at some little distance from the present parish church, on the high ground between and . , which occupies its site, is a plain brick-built structure, and was erected in . On the south wall is a monument, with bust, of William Hewer, which was saved on the demolition of the old church.|
, built in , stands on the western side of the , between Stockwell and the Common; it is after the model of a Greek temple, with an Ionic portico and no steeple, but a cross on the top of the pediment. Dr. Bickersteth, Bishop of Ripon, was for some years the officiating minister here.
, in , is a large and handsome cruciform structure, with a central tower in stages, with pinnacles. It is in the Decorated style of architecture, and was built, in , from the designs of Mr. J. Knowles, at the cost of the Rev. W. Bowyer. The windows are filled with painted glass, by Clayton and Bell. This church remained unconsecrated for several years, in consequence of the bishop of the diocese
|objecting to the position of a monument of Mrs. Bowyer, which had been placed under the tower, immediately in front of the altar-rails. The monument--an altar-tomb, with a recumbent effigy of Mrs. Bowyer--was removed, in , to the north transept. [extra_illustrations.6.325.1]|
By far the finest ecclesiastical-looking structures at Clapham do not belong to the Established Church. These are the Congregational Chapel, in , built in , of the most commodious and elegant edifices of which London Nonconformists can boast; and the Roman Catholic Redemptorist Church of St. Mary, built in . These, with their lofty spires, quite dwarf the plain and unpretending parish structures.
Mr. G. O. Trevelyan writes thus, in his
--he should have said, of
clergy. A gentleman who lived close by, in , brought an action
before of the courts of law, to silence the bells of as a nuisance. He was successful in his suit; and the case of |
must be regarded as settling the question as to the right of any clergyman except of the Established Church to ring bells to the annoyance of his neighbours.
The pulpit of Clapham Church, in Macaulay's childhood, it is almost needless to add, rang with
doctrines. Indeed, Clapham has long been regarded as a suburb whose residents are chiefly distinguished by social prosperity and ardent attachment to
and hence it is sneeringly spoken of by
and Thackeray has introduced a picture of the religious life of the place into the opening chapters of
though he has, perhaps, overdrawn the Nonconformist element in it, and
are scarcely fair specimens of the outcome of the religious influences of
in its palmy days, when it numbered Wilberforce, and James Stephen, the Thorntons, and Charles and Robert Grant. Still, it was the chosen home of the Low-Church party during its golden age.
|and Churchmen and Nonconformists met there on common ground.|
The meetings of Henry Drummond, the elder Macaulay, and the little coterie that gathered round them, and who were designated the
made the ancient home of Osgod Clapa a synonym for devout respectability, and doubtless it will be long before this distinctive description will die out. As Horace writes-
became famous, even along the high road the houses had not crept along in an unbroken line to the Common; the place was literally a village, prim, select, and exclusive. For several generations Nonconformity had had a foothold therein. It is said that between the years and Mr. William Bridge, M.A., of the divines who, under the leadership of Philip Nye, made a stand for liberty of conscience in the Assembly of Divines, preached at Clapham, and founded therein an Independent congregation. Be that as it may, it is certain that when Charles II. published, in -, a declaration of Indulgence, licenses to conduct Nonconformist worship were granted to Dr. Wilkinson, of Clapham, for his own house and school-room, and to Mr. Thomas Lye, of the same place, for his own house. Mr. Lye had been minister of Allhallows, and of Cromwell's Triers. He formed a congregation, which continued to assemble in a private house in the time of his successor, Philip Lamb. Subsequently it met in a temporary wooden building, and in a more substantial edifice was erected, in which for some years laboured Dr. Furneaux, a learned and voluminous writer, with a strong leaning towards Arianism. In this chapel they continued to meet until, in , was erected Chapel. The congregation is large and comparatively wealthy. A commodious lecture-hall, used also as a Sundayschool, is erected in the immediate vicinity of the church, and a mission-hall and schools in the .
--which comprised the leaders of the Evangelical party, mostly Churchmen, but with a sprinkling of Nonconformists, and numbered among them such men as Wilberforce, Zachary Macaulay, Thornton, Stephen, &c.-met, as we have stated before, at Lord Teignmouth's house, at the corner of Clapham Common, now the Redemptorists' College and Monastery; and in this house the Bible Society was founded. of the
Mr. Henry Thornton, of Clapham, was said to have spent annually in the distribution of Bibles and other religious books.
The practical influence of the
was great, though they had no posts or offices with which to bribe followers; they doubtless, also, did much to awaken society to a sense of the great importance of personal religion; but surely Macaulay is guilty of an exaggeration when he writes of them as follows :
And such was really the case. At the beginning of this century, and for the years, the men who met at Lord Teignmouth's table here were really the life and soul of the Established Church, and the spring of its active energy.
On the western side of the Common, in , a thoroughfare leading from Clapham to Wandsworth Common, lives the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, of whom we have already spoken in our accounts of the Metropolitan Tabernacle and the Surrey Music Hall. of Mr. Spurgeon's undertakings, on settling in London, was the Pastors' College. The work of the college was for many years carried on in the dark subterranean rooms under the Tabernacle; but in it was transferred to a more convenient, suitable, and commodious building at the rear of the Tabernacle, which had been erected and furnished at a cost of about . Here there is a fine hall, large class-rooms, a spacious library, and other conveniences. Of the work that has been done at the Pastors' College some idea may be formed from the following quotation of Mr. Spurgeon's account of the college, written in :--
We now make our way northward from the Common by the , leaving the
Inn on our left. This sign, we need scarcely remark, leads the mind back to days when the village of Clapham, far removed from the busy hum of London life, was surrounded by green fields and homesteads.
Mr. Larwood tells us, in his
In some cases the sign bears an inscription in verse, such as-
But if these lines were ever inscribed here, they have long since been obliterated.
Nearer to London is the
a tavern doubtless so named in honour of the ducal house of Bedford, whose lands at Streatham, as we have seen, can be reached by this road. From the
up to the
there is a somewhat steep ascent, and the roadway at that point is known as Clapham Rise. This spot has long been noted for its seminaries for young ladies, a fact which is wittily referred to by Tom Ingoldsby, in his amusing mock-heroic poem, --
This locality is also a favourite spot for charitable institutions. At Clapham Rise was founded, in , the British , now located at Slough, near Windsor. The design of this institution is
The British Home for Incurables, now flourishing at Clapham Rise, was established in , with objects--to provide a home for life, with good nursing, skilled medical attendance, and all necessary mechanical contrivances for the alleviation of the sufferings and afflictions of the patients; and to grant pensions of per annum for life to those who may have relatives or friends partially able to provide for them, but who are not able wholly to maintain them. All who are afflicted with incurable disease are eligible, without regard to nationality or creed, except the insane, the idiotic, and the pauper class, and those under years of age. The institution extends its operations to all parts of the United Kingdom.
The , a broad and well-built thoroughfare, descends gradually towards Stockwell and . On every recurring
its appearance, from the vehicular and other traffic which passes along it, is lively and animated in the extreme. The scenes to be witnessed here on these occasions have been graphically and amusingly described by Mr. G. A. Sala, in his
to the pages of which we would refer the reader.
[extra_illustrations.6.320.1] metropolitan houses of correction
 See ante p. 253.
[extra_illustrations.6.320.2] Skits at Brixton Prison
 See Vol. II., p. 112.
 See Vol. IV., p. 568.
 Quoted by Mr. J. Thorn in his Environs of London.
[extra_illustrations.6.325.1] View from Mr. Akerman's House, Clapham Common
 See ante pp. 29, 260, 267.