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Clare, Suffolk

Historical Description

Clare, a small market-town and a parish in Suffolk. The town stands on the river Stour and the G.E.R., on which it has a station, 9½ miles WNW of Sudbury. It dates from early Saxon times, was a frontier town of the kingdom of East Anglia, had a castle in the time of Edward the Confessor, and gave the title of Earl to the descendants of Richard Fitz-Gilbert, who was with the Conqueror at Hastings. The heiress of one of the earls married Lionel, third son of Edward III., and that prince was then created Duke of Clarence, a title which ever afterwards remained with the royal family. The castle was strengthened and enlarged after the Conquest, and occupied upwards of 20 acres, and considerable remains of it still exist. A church was founded in it in the time of Canute by Earl Alfric, son of Withgar, was given in 1090 to the abbey of Bee in Normandy, served thence as a Benedictine priory church till 1124, when the monks were removed to Stoke, and was replaced in 1248 by an Augustinian priory. A modernised edifice, bearing the priory's name, fully preserving the monastic appearance, and used as a mansion still stands, and the priory church, now unoccupied, is on the north-east side, and was the burial-place of Edmund Mortimer, son of Lionel, and Joan of Acre, daughter of Edward I. The parish church is a beautiful structure of Decorated English date, with a square tower, was restored in 1878 and 1883, and has an octagonal font. There are Baptist and Congregational chapels. The living is a discharged vicarage in the diocese of Ely; value, £229. Patron, the Duchy of Lancaster. A weekly market is held on Monday for grain and cattle. The town has two banks, a chief inn, a corn exchange, and a literary institute. It is a seat of petty sessions, and has a head post office (R.S.O.) The parish contains likewise the hamlet of Chilton. Acreage, 2285; population, 1657.

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 CountySuffolk 
Ecclesiastical parishClare St. Peter and St. Paul 
Poor Law unionRisbridge 

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

Civil Registration

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

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Clare from the following:

Land and Property

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


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

Newspapers and Periodicals

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

DistrictSt. Edmundsbury
Postal districtCO10
Post TownSudbury