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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Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;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.

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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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 67
      Liddiard, Robert, 2005, 'The Castle Landscape of Anglo-Norman East Anglia: A Regional Perspective' in Harper-Bill, C. (ed), Medieval East Anglia (Woodbridge, Boydell) p. 33-51
      Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 74
      Martin, Edward, 1999 (3edn), 'Medieval Castles' in Dymond, David and Martin, Edward (eds) An Historical Atlas of Suffolk (Lavenham) p. 58-9
      Warner, Peter, 1996, The Origins of Suffolk p. 176
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 233
      Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 89-90
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 457
      Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 209
      Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 144
      Knowles, David and Hadcock, R Neville, 1971, Medieval religious houses in England and Wales (Longman) p. 83, 87, 414, 423
      Pevsner, N., 1961, Buildings of England: Suffolk (London, Penguin) p. 150
      Thornton, 1928, History of Clare (Cambridge) p. 79-84
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Wall, 1911, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Suffolk Vol. 1 p. 594-5 (plan) online copy
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 275-6 online copy
      Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 176-8 online copy
      Grose, Francis, 1787, Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 8 p. 124-5 online copy
  • Periodical Articles
    • Ward, J., 2008, 'Noble consumption in the fourteenth century: supplying the household of Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare (d. 1360)' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 41.4 p. 447-60 online copy
      Liddiard, Robert, 2006, 'Early castles in the Medieval Landscape of East Anglia' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 243-50
      2002, 'Archaeology in Suffolk 2001' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 40.1 p. 93 (slight) online copy
      Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 308, 317
      Ward, J.C., 1983, 'The place of the Honour in twelfth-century society: the Honour of Clare 1066–1217' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 35.3 p. 191-202 online copy
      King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of mottes; Eine kurze übersicht' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-112
      Ward, J.C., 1964, 'The Honour of Clare in Suffolk in the early middle ages' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 30.1 p. 94-111 online copy
      Brown, R, Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
      Knocker, G.M., 1959, 'Clare Castle Excavations, 1955, (with Appendices by J.H. Thornton and J. King)' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 28.2 p. 136-52 online copy online copy (Appendix A) online copy (Appendix B)
      Corder, 1893, The Builder Vol. 64 p. 324
      Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 212 online copy
      Jenner, S., 1849, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 6 p. 190 online copy
      Tymms, S., 1849, 'Clare Castle. (Read 14 Sep 1848)' Proceedings of the Bury and West Suffolk Institute (Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History) Vol. 1.3 p. 61-66 online copy
      Osservator, 1787, The Gentleman's Magazine Part 2 p. 788-90 online copy
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • Dugdale, William (Caley, J., Ellis, H. and Bandinel, B. (eds)), 1817-30 (originally pub. 1655-73), Monasticon Anglicanum (London) Vol. 6.3 p. 1659-61 online copy
      Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 427 online copy
      Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 437-8
  • Antiquarian (Histories and accounts from late medieval and early modern writers)
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 76 online copy
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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