Inventory Site Record

Clapton Common (Hackney)

Brief Description

Clapton Common is a small fragment of the former Broad Common; the south side, overlooked by the early C19th Clapton Terrace, forms an extension to the Common. Maps of 1745 show a number of hamlets in the area and in the C18th/C19th smart villas were built in Upper Clapton for City bankers and merchants, development accelerating after arrival of the railway. Clapton Common was preserved as public open space in 1872 as a result of a successful public petition that led to 180 acres in Hackney being protected from encroachment. It retains its large pond but public amenities, such as a Keeper's Box and drinking fountain, no longer exist, and the small mock-Tudor pavilion provided as public toilets became derelict.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Broad Common
Site location:
Clapton Common, Upper Clapton
E5 9AA
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Clapton Common Play Area
Public transport:
Rail: Stamford Hill. Bus: 253
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.hackney.gov.uk/clapton-common.htm

Full Site Description

Clapton Common is a small fragment of the former Broad Common, situated on high ground; the south side, overlooked by the early C19th dwellings of Clapton Terrace, forms an extension to the Common. The name Clapton possibly came from a Saxon farm, Clop meaning lump or hill, Ton meaning farm. There are records for Stamford Hill dating from the C13th when the area was called Sanford Hill - the Hill by the Sandy Ford; a mediaeval Pilgrim route ran through Clapton to Waltham Abbey. In 1745 maps show hamlets in the area and in the C18th and C19th smart villas were built in Upper Clapton for City bankers and merchants; the railway arrived here in 1872 after which development accelerated. Plots of land in front of Nos. 37-67 Clapton Common were originally owned and maintained by the freeholders or lessees, and those for Nos. 56-94 were owned by Colonel G C B Paynter, both areas having private roadways with narrow grassed enclosures in front creating a common frontage.

From 1898 the London County Council had responsibility for maintenance of Clapton Common, which had been preserved in 1872 as public open space as a result of a successful public petition that led to 180 acres in Hackney being protected from the encroachment of development, and acquired under the Metropolitan Commons Supplemental Act 1872, the land transferred to the Metropolitan Board of Works. The rights were eventually purchased from the Lord of the Manor in 1881, later extinguished by a Special Act of Parliament 1884. Public amenities provided on the Common included a Keeper's Box and drinking fountain, neither of which remain, and in the C20th a small mock Tudor pavilion dating was built to provide a public toilet, later derelict. Mature trees form the perimeter, with grass areas between, and the path layout is not substantially changed since the 1870s. The pond was, according to J J Sexby 'much in demand for skating in the winter' and was used for yachting in the early C20th. In the latter part of the C20th the pond was railed while improvements were instigated, including clearing of rampant duck weed. It is overlooked by fine willow trees. The pond inadvertently contributed to the downfall of the Rector of the nearby Agapemonite Church of the Good Shepherd (q.v.) who in 1902 was discredited for failing to turn the pond water into wine, having announced himself as the Messiah. The spire of the church is a landmark visible from Clapton Common.

Clapton Common User Group was set up to conserve the common; the pond and fountain have been recently renovated and other improvements to the park include a new play area, which opened in 2011 and has a fenced area for under-5s and a tree and rope play structure for older children. Other plans include a new café. In October 2010 a project organised by the Sonshine Club of Stamford Hill resulted in 3,000 crocus bulbs planted on the Common. Gardening projects are among the activities organised by the Club, which aims to promote healthy living to young people of the Orthodox Jewish community in the area.

Sources consulted:

Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); Arthur Mee 'The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster' (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 1972); The Parks Agency 'Commons, Heaths and Greens in Greater London. A short report for English Heritage', 2005

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ343876 (534188,187563)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Hackney
Site management:
Hackney Parks Service; Clapton Common User Group
Listed structures:
LBII: 98 Clapton Common; 2 K2 telephone kiosks outside nos. 149 and 162 Clapton Common
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Yes: Common (CL3)
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Yes (part)

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Conservation Area name:
Clapton Common
Tree Preservation Order:
To be checked
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes (Clapton Common Pond)
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Open Space; London Square (part: areas in front of nos.37-67 and 56-94)

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.