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Clare Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Clare.
In the historic county of Suffolk.
Modern Authority of Suffolk.
1974 county of Suffolk.
Medieval County of Suffolk.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL771452
Latitude 52.07689° Longitude 0.58208°

Clare Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


Motte and bailey first documented in 1090, and probably disused by the end of C14. 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. (Derived from PastScape)

It comprises a motte, 53ft high, surmounted by a fragment of a cylindrical tower of flint rubble, and two baileys, 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 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 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. (PastScape–ref. Tymms, 1849)

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 construction. 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. (PastScape (Tanner is a reference in the VCH but not otherwise identified this may be a mistake for Tymms, 1849)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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This record last updated on Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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