The large and beautiful church of St Peter & St Paul dominates the north end of the town, reflecting the prosperity of Clare in the Middle Ages when the main trade was cloth-making.
Like many of the most magnificent Suffolk churches, it is a fine example of the English perpendicular style, reflected in the exceptional height of nave and the huge aisle windows where the light streams in.
The present church dates back to at least 13th century but after a visit by the image-breaker William Dowsing in 1643, the heraldic glass in the east window is all that is left of the 15th century glass that once might have filled the church.
This Suffolk church is open for visitors every day and there is a well-stocked shop and bookstall.
Clare Parish Church belongs to the Stour Valley Benefice and the Rector is the Revd Stuart Mitchell. The choir sings at every principal Sunday service.
The Society for Music in Clare Church organises concerts throughout the year.
- The 18th century sundial over the porch that says: ‘Go about your business’. The porch was more than just an entrance in those days with all sorts of business transacted there.
- The 18th century ringers’ gotch – that’s a beer jug. Beer was once the payment for the ringers. Clare’s ring of eight is said to be the heaviest in Suffolk.
- Surviving section of a 15th century high rood screen in front of the organ. Rood is the old word for cross.
- The Jacobean gallery pew in the south aisle thought to have been built by Sir Thomas Barnadiston, owner of Clare Priory and sometimes known as the Priory Pew
- A fine 15th century brass eagle lectern with an open beak to receive coins that would emerge from the tail feathers!
- Ancient House Museum features local history and genealogy in a 14th-century timbered building.
- Clare Park and Castle: William the Conqueror gave his cousin Richard Fitzgilbert the Manor of Clare and he built the castle, now ruined but you can enjoy wonderful views of the historic town from the keep
- Clare Priory – Richard de Clare invited the Augustinians to found their first English priory here and you can visit the grounds and ruins.
- You are not far from Bury St Edmunds with its lofty cathedral and the magnificent St Mary’s Church where you’ll find the tomb of Mary Tudor, favourite sister of Henry VIII.
Clare is known for the mighty feudal barons the de Clares. Descendant Elizabeth was Edward III’s cousin who founded Clare College, Cambridge, and grand-daughter of Edward I.