Sunday, 21 February 2010

William Wilberforce, Jane Austen contemporary

Clapham Common church, The Holy Trinity opened in 1776, where the Clapham Sect used to meet.
The view from the steps of The Holy Trinity. The house where most of the Clapham Sect lived together was on the other side of this park. It no longer exists. A roundabout covers the site.

The interior of the church.

A side view of this beautiful 18th century church.

A foot scraper to one side of the church door. Perhaps William Wilberforce scraped the mud off his boots here.

The remains of the stable block belonging to the house that William Wilberforce owned, on the edge of Wimbledon Common. He inherited the house from an uncle. The house itself no longer exists.There are stories of wild weekend parties here with Pitt the Younger.

A plaque on the stable walls.

William Wilberforce (1759 - 1833) lived in South London.
Yes I know nothing to do with Jane this time, but a contemporary no less.

William Wilberforce was a very important campaignner for the abolition of slavery. The film, Amazing Grace, was a rather light and quick perusal of his life and works. The film is worth seeing from the point of view of getting peoples interest and curiosity going. Maybe after watching the film somebody might want to delve deeper.

Here is a link giving a few facts about Wilberforce.

AND some pictures of Wimbledon Common and Clapham where he lived. He was born in Kingston upon Hull in the north of England, a great fishing port, but he lived in London to carry out his parliamentary duties.
As an aside, this church on Clapham Common, although famous for the Clapham Sect, is now famous as the church in Ian McKewan's ATONEMENT. Unfortunately, in the film, another church is used but this is the church in the novel. The underground at Balham is a short walk from the church, where Cecilia, Briony's older sister, is killed when a bomb ruptures a water main and those sheltering from a bombing raid are drowned.


  1. Ah, thank you so much! I am forever in your debt for this- this is so much better than those black and white 18th/19th century etchings you get in biographies or history books!

    Ha! I'm glad to see Wilberforce's Wimbleton villa. He and Pitt the Younger used to get all sorts of random mischief before Pitt became Prime Minister and Wilberforce converted to Evangelical Christianity; it's so interesting to see the site of their somewhat nonsensical pranks as an actual building (though the grounds are now gone I suppose). I can't remember if it was at Wilberforce's Wimbleton residence or Pitt's estate of Holwood, in Kent, where there's the Wilberforce oak....

  2. After seeing the movie about Wilberforce, I read a biography about him and one about Hannah More. Just think about all the good that they achieved!