Clapton Pond – A Gem in the Heart of Hackney

Clapton Pond, Hackney

Thanks to a Hackney walk I printed off yesterday, I found something that has puzzled me for a while. Ever since the 393 bus route started up a couple of years back, I’ve been wondering about Clapton Pond (end destination in one direction.)

Of course, it would’ve been easy enough to find out about it, but I’d never actually got round to looking it up (shame on me).

Anyway the pond, it turns out, is said to have existed since the early 1600s (although according to Hackney Council this hasn’t been proven, and was made a reservoir in the 1700s. Although for a time the water works constructed by Lord of the Manor Francis Tyssen, from 1760 to 1833 it successfully supplied some of the water needed for the households of London. During this time it consisted of three ponds.

The land came into private ownership and were neglected and threatened with being filled in, until it was bought in 1898 by the Hackney Vestry to provide public gardens. The miniature islands and bridge which make it look almost Japanese today were built.

In 2002 care of the site was taken over by the Clapton Pond Neighbourhood Action Group as it was again falling into neglect, and from what I saw yesterday, they’re doing a fabulous job of keeping it up.

Beautiful cherry blossom, Clapton Pond

At this time of year, the cherry trees are in full bloom, the fountain spouting, (I’m wondering how long that will last if the drought carries on) and the willow trees are swaying in the breeze. Even on a grey day, it’s a great little spot for a break from the urban toings and froings going on around it.

Alms houses behind Clapton Pond, Hackney

Just behind the pond are the beautiful little Bishop’s Woods Almshouses, built in 1665 for poor widows, which feature the smallest chapel in England (two pews seating 10 people).

There’s a also a great corner shop just beside it that sells wine by the barrel, a great selection of flowers and plants, hot food and fresh fruit and veg. Local gal Emily from Lower Clapton has even written a blog dedicated to Palm 2 – isn’t that lovely?

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