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Clapham, Bedfordshire

Historical Description

Clapham, a village and a parish in Bedfordshire, on the river Ouse, 1¼ mile from Oakley station on the M.R., and 2¼ miles NNW of Bedford, with a post office under Bedford, which is the money order and telegraph office. Acreage, 1995; population, 725. Clapham Park is a fine Elizabethan mansion situated on the south side of Clapham wood. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely; net yearly value, £183. The church has an Early Saxon tower, and was mainly rebuilt in 1861. There is a Wesleyan chapel.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyBedfordshire 
Ecclesiastical parishClapham St. Thomas à Becket 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1696.

The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS) hold the registers for Clapham: Baptisms 1696-1991, Marriages 1696-1975, Burials 1697-1932, Banns 1754-1807, 1824-1976. Transcripts in either book or microfiche form for registers prior to 1813 can be purchased from the BLARS (see website for details).


Church of England

St. Thomas à Becket (parish church)

The church of St. Thomas a Becket, rebuilt, with the exception of the tower, in 1862 is of native limestone, in the Early English style, from designs by the late Sir G. Gilbert Scott R.A. and consists of chancel, nave, aisles and a very early and massive tower 82 feet high, without buttresses, mentioned by Rickman as one of the best and most remarkable of the remaining examples of Early Saxon work in the kingdom, and containing 6 bells; in 1906 two of the bells were recast five rehung and one added: the two lower stages are of earlier date than the third or upper portion; they are lighted by narrow semicircular-headed openings, deeply splayed within and without and unglazed; the entrance from the outside in the west front is by a semicircular-headed doorway, 4 feet wide, entirely destitute of moulding, and in the east side from the church by a plain semicircular arch with abacus, to which the ancient arch between the nave and chancel corresponds; the second stage has on it's east face a large square-headed aperture or doorway, coeval with its construction; the walls of both these stages diminish gradually in thickness from 5 feet at the base; the third, or upper stage, is of Late Saxon or Early Norman work, and has very wide round-headed two-light windows, set near the outer face of the wall and broadly splayed within, divided in the centre by a heavy mullion: about 1630 the walls were embattled and a new roof erected, but this was replaced by another in 1897: there are five stained windows to the Dawson family, and a monument of exquisite design, attributed to Grinling Gibbons, to Thomas Taylor esq., of this place, whose widow, Ursula, d. 1724, founded a charity to put out and apprentice to some trade every year one or two poor children.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Clapham was in Bedford Registration District from 1837 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Clapham from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Bedfordshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Clapham are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Bedfordshire papers online:

Poor Law

Clapham was in Bedford Poor Law Union. For further detailed history of the Bedford Union see Peter Higginbotham's excellent resource: Bedford Poor Law Union and Workhouse.

Visitations Heraldic

A full transcript of the Visitations of Bedfordshire 1566, 1582, and 1634 is available online.

Postal districtMK41
Post TownBedford