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Historic England Research Records

Clare Castle

Hob Uid: 379255
Location :
Suffolk
St. Edmundsbury
Clare
Grid Ref : TL7704845206
Summary : Motte and Bailey first documented in 1090, and probably disused by the end of the 15th century. There is documentary evidence that a secular college existed in the church within the castle at Clare in Edward the Confessor's reign until 1090, (then becoming a Benedictine alien cell until removed to Stoke by Clare in 1124). There is no other evidence for a fortified site pre-dating the present castle. Powerful motte and bailey with second bailey and wet ditches. Masonry shell keep Probably disused in th later 14th century.
More information : (TL 771452) Castle (NR) (1)

There appears to have been a castle or principal residence at Clare in Saxon times (site not known), but the earliest record of it is in Domesday. The present castle was in existence in 1090 occupied by Gilbert de Clare, whose father Richard Fitz Gilbert was granted the lands by William the Conqueror.

It comprises a motte (M), 53ft high, surmounted by a fragment of a cylindrical tower of flint rubble, and two baileys (B1 and B2), the inner southernmost having been walled. An outer ditch surrounded the whole. The situation is at the angle formed by the junction of the River Stour and Chilton Stream, protected by their floodplains on the S and E sides. The tower on the motte was originally 52ft internal diameter with walls 6ft thick, but only the W arc survives to a height of 25ft. The inner bailey (B1) is bounded by a bank and outer ditch; the bank was originally surmounted by a flint rubble wall defended by bastions and demi-bastions, but it only survives in parts in the N and S and on the E side of the motte to a maximum height of 20ft. Until c1720 it stood on the E and S sides, but now only the foundations remain.

The entrance from outer to inner bailey was defended by flanking towers and probably a drawbridge, with what appears to be an outer "barbican of two demi-bastions of earth and outer ditch carried around".

The outer bailey (B2) bounded by bank and ditch shows no trace of a wall. The W side is destroyed, but a sketch drawn in 1785 shows an entrance on this side. (2)

A motte with two baileys; the former is intact though its ditch has been partially filled in for cottage gardens and for the station yard.

A large proportion of the inner bailey (B2) is flattened by the railway and station buildings, and the entrance between inner and outer baileys is mutilated by the station approach road.

Only the E arc of the outer baily remains (B2); the remainder is destroyed by town building.

It is suggested that some of the earthworks, notably the entrance between baileys, may pre-date the motte phase. (3)

The main castle buildings were within the inner bailey (B2) and they included the 'main hall' called "Clarette hall" several other rooms, a chapel, the usual kitchens, larder and saucery .. outhouses, stables .." The castle was a place of residence in the 14th C, but it probably fell into ruins at the end of the 15th C when it became a crown possession.

In 1955 when a sewer trench dug across the outer bailey, excavations revealed a possible Md entrance, several hearths and 12th/13th C potsherds. A second trench near the Chilton stream revealed worn pieces of shoe leather identified as 14th/15th C, probably indicating a rubbish dump. (4)

Clare Castle, a motte and double bailey as described by authorities 2, 3 and 4. The remains of the castle are preserved within Clare Castle County Park.
Published survey (25") revised. See G.P. (5)

A secular college, dedicated to St John the Baptist, was founded "in the castle" at Clare by Earl Alfric probably circa 1045. In 1090 it became an alien priory cell for Benedictine Monks until this was moved in 1124 to Stoke by Clare (see TL 74 SW 3). (6)

There were substantial Medieval gardens which included a "glass chamber". Probably an aviary used as a green house. (7)

Authy 1 is incorrect in stating that a castle is documented in Doomsday; there is no reference to a castle at Clare at all. Authy 6, quoting VCH Suffolk 2, state that a secular college was established "in the castle" at Clare in the time of Aelfric, circa 1145. VCH takes its information from Dugdale, (which refers only to the later move to Clare in 1124), and Tanner. The latter was not available for consultation.

That Clare was an important centre is attested by Doomsday, but the only evidence for a Saxon fortification is apparently that of Tanner. Tanner's source was presumably the foundation charter for the secular college at Clare, which is referred to in Domesday. It must remain open to question as to the status of the site prior to the Norman constrction. As the centre of the largest of Aelfric's estates in Suffolk, it is not unreasonable to think that the site may have been occupied by a high status Saxon dwelling, or indeed a fortification. (8)

Listed Grade II*. (9)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : OS 25" 1958
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Source Number : 2
Source : Proceedings of the Bury and West Suffolk Institute
Source details : Plans, sections (S Tymms)
Page(s) : 61-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1 1849
Source Number : 9
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of St Edmundsbury, 19-Dec-1961
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Suffolk, volume one
Source details :
Page(s) : 594-5
Figs. :
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : GA Thornton. 1963. A Short History of Clare
Page(s) : 06-Jul
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 NKB 25-FEB-75
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 5a
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Mr Michael Staff, oral, Warden, Clare Country Park, Suffolk
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 6
Source : Medieval religious houses in England and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 83,87,414,423
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Source Number : 7
Source : Mediaeval gardens
Source details :
Page(s) : 87-8,92,110,121
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : RJ Fitz-Gerald, English Heritage Data Management Recording, 03-Oct-2003
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 8B
Source : The origins of Suffolk
Source details :
Page(s) : 176
Figs. :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : In reign of Edward the Confessor
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 1042
Monument Type : Collegiate Church, College Of Secular Priests
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Early Medieval
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 410
Monument Type : Fort
Evidence : Conjectural Evidence, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Extant
Monument End Date : 1090
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : College Of Secular Priests, Collegiate Church
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Extant
Monument End Date : 1124
Monument Start Date : 1090
Monument Type : Benedictine Alien Cell, Alien Priory
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Present castle in existence by 1090
Monument End Date : 1090
Monument Start Date : 1090
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey, Keep, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : C13eval
Monument End Date : 1300
Monument Start Date : 1201
Monument Type : Shell Keep
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Disused in C15
Monument End Date : 1499
Monument Start Date : 1400
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey, Keep, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Suffolk)
External Cross Reference Number : 8
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : SF 52
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 282924
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TL 74 NE 12
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : CLARE CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1848-01-01
End Date : 1848-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON TL 74 NE 12
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1975-02-25
End Date : 1975-02-25
Associated Activities : CLARE FIRE STATION
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT CLARE CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT 9 STATION ROAD
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : 'THE LARKS', MALTING LANE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT CLARE CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT CLARE CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2013-01-01
End Date : 2013-12-31