Clare, Suffolk

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Machinery_at_the_disused_railway_station_at_Clare.jpg
Machinery at the disused railway station at Clare

Clare is the name of a small town on the north bank of the River Stour in Suffolk, England. It is 22 km from Bury St Edmunds and 14 km from Sudbury.

The town possibly owed its earlier importance to its position on an ancient road running from Dunwich in East Anglia into the Midlands. At some time in its history the great double-ditched "camp" on Lower Common was built. It is of unknown origin, but probably marks the first permanent settlement in the area.

After the Norman Conquest its importance continued and a castle was built about 1 km to the south of the "camp" and the town given, along with many other manors, to Richard Fitz Gilbert, Earl of Brion in Normandy. These lands became know collectively as the 'Honour of Clare' and Fitz Gilbert styled himself Earl of Clare.

This 13th Century stone castle keep sits upon a 70ft high motte overlooking the town on the banks of the River Stour. Parts of the inner and outer baileys still exist. The castle is part of the Clare Castle Country Park which has the distinction of containing the only (now decommisioned) railway station built within a castle in the UK.

Adjacent to the park is the first house of the Augustinian Friars in England, founded at the behest of Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester: Claire Priory, established in 1248 and still used as a retreat.

In the 13th century the town was made a borough by grant of one of the Clare lords, although no charter survives to indicated the exact date.

The parish church of SS. Peter and Paul is one of the largest and most beautiful in East Anglia. It is principally of the 15th and early 16th century.

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