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About Clare

Clare is an ancient small town dating to pre-Roman times. Until Domesday it was called Clara, which some link with the Anglo-Saxon 'Clara's place', but which perhaps comes from the Latin word 'clarus', meaning illustrious, renowned, or clear - the place of light or of clear water. The change to 'Clare' may have come when William the Conqueror translated the speech of his Norman tongue into the written word: it had certainly been made by 1198.

Chilton Street is a small hamlet in the north-west of Clare parish, which used to have a steam mill, a windmill and a pub. The (long-closed) pub and the windmill still stand, though the mill looks as if the artillery has been taking pot-shots at it (see the gallery).

Earthworks on Upper common are believed to be Iron age defences. In Saxon times the settlement was on the border of the East Anglian kingdom. Later, after the Conquest, it was part of Richard Fitzgilbert's estates and a large castle was built. This was abandoned in 15th century, when the town prospered considerably. Clare Country Park includes remains of the castle mound and old station buildings.

Clare station was on the Stour Valley Railway, which ran from Shelford (near Cambridge) to Marks Tey (the stretch between Sudbury and Marks Tey still runs). The station opened in August 1865 and closed in March 1967. It was the only station in the country to be built within a castle.

Mill Road used to lead to a watermill, built in the late 18th or early 19th century and burned down in 1979.

The Ancient House Museum is a beautifully pargetted 15th century hall house in the High Street, containing many interesting local historical artefacts.

Read David Hatton's books about Clare and its history

Nethergate Brewery was founded in Clare in 1986, but moved to nearby Pentlow in 2004, then to Long Melford in 2017. The building which housed the brewery has been demolished for a residential development.


(Some historical information from English Heritage's National Monuments Record)
(** news report reproduced with kind permission from Foxearth & District Local History).