Another in the series on historic sites on the “Capital Ring” walk …
Clapton was first recorded as Clopton in 1339, and as Clapton in 1593, taking its name from the Old English clopp(a) and tun, meaning farmstead or homestead on a hill, the hill in question rising steeply to the west of the River Lea. The area was largely agricultural and sparsely populated in the Medieval and post-Medieval periods, but began to be heavily developed and industrialised from the end of the nineteenth century onwards. A pilgrimage route between London and Waltham Abbey ran through the area in the Medieval period. Brooke House was built here in the post-Medieval, and owned or occupied by Henry Algernon Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland in the sixteenth century, and by Fulke Greville, 1st Lord Brooke, in the seventeenth, before eventually being demolished in the mid-twentieth (Brooke School stands on the site today). The church of St Thomas was not built until the eighteenth century. Clapton was incorporated into the Borough of Hackney in 1965.
A terrace of alms-houses for poor widows over sixty was built in an attractive location overlooking the pond in Lower Clapton in 1665, at the behest of Dr Thomas Wood, a native of Hackney and sometime Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry. One of the stipulations of Wood’s will was that the inmates should be provided every other year with new gowns bearing his monogrammed initials T.W. The trustees soon chose to commute this to a money payment.
Aside from some late nineteenth- and early twentieth- century restorations, Bishop Wood’s alms-houses remain in their original form.