First Time Buyer Magazine: Moving like the Clappers
Tue 02 Apr 2013
Although Clapham's Georgian and Victorian mansions give this part of south London a sedate elegance, its young, professional and well-heeled residents (who apparently call themselves clappers) exude a quiet cool that makes you yearn to be part of their scene.
Centred on its sprawling 220-acre common, the London suburb of Clapham stretches from Brixton in the north to Balham in the south. The district is known for its stunningGeorgian and Victorian residential properties, which retain much of their original statuesque glory. Mature tree-lined streets compliment the green open space of the common, and there is a wealth of independent shops, galleries, cafes, restaurants and local markets. From Old Town and Clapham High Street in the northto Abbeville Road and Balham Hill in the south, the small, unique communities within the suburb help to give Clapham a true village feel.
Homes & Residents
Clapham is synonymous with young professionals and yummy mummies, a reputation that is well justified. Almost half of the owners-occupiers, while that figure rises to 62% around Clapham Common. What's more, according to lambeth gov.uk, around 85% of these residents are happy to live with their local area as a place to live. But with a population of about 44,000 and areas as different asaffluent Clapham Old Town and the less so Thornton ward area, Clapham is one of the most diverse areas in the London borough of Lambeth.
As such, there is a great variety of homes in Clapham. A wealth of four bedroom mews, six bedroom Georgian town houses and apartments in converted Victorian mansions mean Clapham's mature residences make up much of the available housing. However there are a number of major redevelopments transforming the area. Situated in the middle of Clapham High street, the iconic library building is both a commercial and residential development. Nominated for a number of planning awards, from the Royal Town Planning Institute to the Design Museum, this building of 136 one and two bedroom apartments is a striking new addition to a slightly tired high street. A mile to the south of the common, Clapham Park is also undergoing major redevelopment. Much of the building and regeneration is already underway and in some cases complete; the area is already home to 1,400 residents. When finished, Clapham Park will have 150 acres of lanscaped gardens with shops, cafes, restaurants and a new health centre alongside the residential buildings.
A recent surge of chain supermarkets opening in Clapham has seen a rise in popularity of the local markets. Clapham High Street hosts Venn Street Fresh Food market, open Saturdays 10am-4pm. The market offers a selection of artisan food products, from seasonal vegetables by Ted's Veg to rare breed beef, game and wild fowl from Garlic Wood Farm and seafood from Veasey & Sons Fishmongers. You could wash all that down with a glass of organic wine from D Vine Wine as well. On the first Saturday of every month, the glass fronted church on Clapham High Street is transformed into a lively arts, crafts and cakes mini-market. Elsewhere, Abbeville Farmers market at Bonneville Primary School is open every Sunday from 10am-2pm and sells a select range of meats, baked goods and cheeses.
However there are various shopping spots in Clapham should you need something other than locally produced foods and crafts. Clapham High street has a mix of independent and chain shops, from large supermarkets and charity shops to places like Clapham Books, an independent book shop. While one stop further on the Northern line is a larger variety of shops and cafes at Clapham Common. On leaving the tube station you arrive in the centre of a bustling triangle ofgrand old buildings, all under the shadow of Georgian-bulit Holy Trinity Church. The pretty independent cafes, trendy clothing and gift boutiques and other shops that run along each side of the triangle give Clapham Old Town a village feel. Shopping here is a lovely way to spend your weekend afternoon.
Clapham Junction, on the other hand, north of the common offers the kind of shopping experience you would associate with any high street in a large town or city. There are lots of womenswear and electrical stores, chemists and chain coffee shops,ect.
Clapham Picture house on Venn Street is an independent multi-screen cinema showing all the latest releases, as well as kids' movies on Saturday afternoons, 'Toddler Time' on a Wednesday afternoon, live theatre and opera and ballet screenings. If watching live music is how you prefer to spend your down time, then the recently refurbished Grand is one of Clapham's best live music venues. If, however, you're a bit of a bookworm or fancy a bit of quiet time, Clapham Library is located on Clapham High Street; take out a book , stroll down the common and pick a spot to turn the pages.
Clapham Common in the warmer months hosts numerous public events- the Clapham Common Jog in aid of the British Heart Foundation, the Colourscape music festival, among others. The recently refurbished Bandstand, the largest in London, is also a venue for other live music events. A 15-minute walk from the common is Battersea Arts Centre, a modern theatre and arts space located in a Grade II- listed Victorian town hall. Performances here have included plays, art installations, music and tea dances. Residents of Clapham get involved with a lots of different local organisations, clubs and projects. From the Friends of Clapham Common, a group of volunteers that work at maintaining the common, to instaclap, the 'live-feed' of Clapham-only Instagram snaps, which are uploaded to loveclapham.com, there is a constant buzz of community collaboration.
There are dozens of restaurants located on Clapham High Street serving food from across the globe; The Belgo (Belgian) serves moules, frites and bires, Caf Sol offers good quality Tex-Mex, and Rodizio tempts your palette with Brazilian steak. if you're looking for something quintessentially british, however, The Fish Club takeaway and restaurant was named as one of London's 50 best restaurants in Time Out 2011.
Should fine dining be your thing, then Trinity Restaurant in Old Clapham Town has three AA Rosettes and was named on The Sunday Times Food List 2012; should that not fail to tempt you, its seven-course tasting menu including baked sea bass, smoked venison and scallop ceviche just might.
There are plenty of sleek and chic, family-friendly gastro pubs in Clapham like The Windmill on Clapham Common South Side, which promises to be everything from a friendly local home-from-home pub to a boutique hotel to a yoga centre. The Bobbin on Lillieshall Road, Clapham Old Town, on the other hand, offers fine affordable fayre from a pie and a pint to a three-course meal and even a nutritious, children-specific menu. If family-friendly isn't the vibe for you, there are also painfully cool places to spend your time off like The Loft on Clapham High Street, serving sharing dishes, weekend brunch until 5pm and cocktails until the early hours.
Caf culture is big in Clapham; there are dozens of cafs dotted about the suburb, all with their own continental-style, al fresco areas and/or heated patios. Abbeville Village has a good mix of cafes including Bon-Bon Caf, situated on the corner of Abbeville Road, which offers a great range of vegetarian meals, light snacks and fresh breakfasts along with a good selection of coffee.
There are also loads of traditional pubs like The Sun in Clapham Old Town, offering 12 cask ales and speciality beers and super Sunday roasts. An evening in here and you're certain to discover if the locals really do call themselves Clappers.
Four tube stations service Clapham, including Clapham Junction on the Overground, and Clapham Common, Clapham North and Clapham South on the Northern line. Journey times from Clapham Common to central London take around 23 minutes. A proposed extension to the Northern line could see new stations at nearby Battersea and Nine Elms. Railway stations include Clapham High Street, Wandsworth Road, Wandsworth Common and Balham.