St Paul, Rectory Grove, Clapham

Above: The west front of the present church of St Paul.

The first parish church in the village of Clapham was the church of St Mary – at the northern end of Rectory Grove. It was first mentioned in 1232. It could have been in existence for some time before that date. By 1774 the church had become so dilapidated that an Act of Parliament authorised a new one and a new site on the edge of Clapham Common was chosen which became holy Trinity. That church is still there today.

The old church of St Mary was demolished, leaving only the north transept which became used as a sort of chapel where funeral services were held for burials in the ancient churchyard.

Above: Looking across part of the large churchyard at the entire south side of St Paul’s church showing Blomfield’s eastern end (on the right).

In 1815 a new Chapel of Ease to Holy Trinity was built on the old site of St Mary. The Chapel became a separate parish and was dedicated to St Paul. A new east end was added by the architect Reginald Blomfield in 1879. Since 1969 the church has been used as a community centre.

Above: Some of the many ancient tombs in the old churchyard.

The impressive church building stands in a large churchyard which includes some quite ancient tombs, including several large sarcophagi which date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Because the site is in a quiet back-street, called Rectory Grove, the whole setting still has a ‘country church’ atmosphere. The position of the church is on the edge of the flat plateau on which most of Clapham is situated. Looking northwards, the land drops away with interesting views across London, particularly toward Chelsea and Fulham.


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