We always think of Samuel Pepys as a City gent, very much linked to central London’s financial district. That is indeed true, but Pepys also has a strong and final link with Clapham. Pepys worked for Charles II’s navy and Dennis Gauden, the Surveyor General of Victualling, had himself built a grand house next to Clapham Common. Pepys made frequent visits to Gauden brokering various deals for the supply of goods. In his diaries he claims while gifts were given by Gauden, that these where not bribes! Gauden however met his downfall in 1677 when he fell into debt. But the Pepys connection continued as William Hewer, Pepys’ former clerk, became a successful merchant and bought Gauden’s house on his death in 1688.
Pepys and Hewer remained friends and the elderly Pepys frequently escaped the stink and illness of the City, for the fresh air of Hewer’s countryside home. He moved there permanently in the summer of 1701 and died in Clapham in 1703. Pepys was buried back in St Olave’s church in the City, close to his Seething Lane home, but left money for Clapham’s poor in his will. Hewer’s memorial of 1715 is in Clapham’s ancient church St Pauls.
Clapham’s ancient parish church of St Paul’s, but his house unfortunately is long gone, swept away by the Victorian development of suburban Clapham.
Learn more about Clapham Common’s amazing history by joining a Clapham Common guided walk.