Clare Priory and Clare Parish Church
Visit the ruin of the first Augustinian Friary in England, founded in 1248 by Richard de Clare, Earl of Hertford and Gloucester. Joan of Acre (daughter of King Edward I) and Lionel of Antwerp (son of Edward III) are buried there, and these ancestors of Richard III are important to the Richard III Society. See the award-winning 2015 extension to the medieval infirmary, now the local Roman Catholic church.
Then visit the beautiful wool church, the 14th & 15th century gothic parish church of St Peter & St Paul, featured among England's thousand best churches. This was built by the wealthy clothiers of Clare. Next door is Clare Ancient House Museum, which features 'The Story of Clare' in its exhibition.
Clare Castle & Clare Castle Country Park
Visit the remains of the Norman castle built by the founder of the de Clare family. It began as an earth and timber castle in the late 11th century, when Clare was chosen as the seat of the extensive Suffolk estates that were given to Richard de Bienfaite as his reward for supporting William the Conqueror, who was his cousin. Its motte at 62 feet in height is the highest in Suffolk. The stone keep, now a ruin, was built in the 13th century. The castle had inner and outer baileys. The outer bailey wall is still mostly intact, and the wall between the baileys, which is labelled 'Lady's Walk', named for the great 14th-century family member, Elizabeth de Burgh, foundress of Clare College Cambridge.
Clare Castle Country Park sits on the footprint of the Castle, on the bank of the Stour, or rather the early 'New Cut' of the Stour, which was straightened to feed Clare mill. The Park has the distinction of being the only castle with a railway station running through its inner bailey. In addition to the great historic value of the Castle and now the railway station (closed in 1966), it is important for its ecological features, both flora and fauna, providing spaces for lovely walks as well as educational and social events. The recently opened cafe, Platform One, has a railway theme. Parking and access to the town are both easy.
Clare's Historic Buildings & Clare Market
Picturesque timber-framed buildings, some with justly famous decorative pargeting, line the streets of this small town. Their construction can be seen clearly inside a recently-opened medieval walkway at Clare Priory, and also inside Clare Ancient House Museum. The grander houses were built by cloth merchants in this Wool Town, although who built each house is still a mystery. The market in Clare has existed since before the Norman Conquest, once stretching from the Castle, north to Clare Common, with the gothic parish church of St Peter & St Paul in the middle. It is now less than 1/4 the size, due to encroachment and two layers of infilling, the first probably of the 13th century. A beautiful but inaccessible vaulted cellar exists below modern antique shops, probably once a merchant's storehouse. Although the A1092 now runs through the market, once there were stalls and shops (the second layer of infilling). The market has become an A-road and a car park, with a fishman on Fridays, the War Memorial, and the occasional civic event.