Monument record CLA 001 - Clare Priory

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Summary

Scheduled Monument - House of Austin Friars, founded 1248 by Richard de Clare and probably the first of its order in England.

Location

Grid reference Centred TL 77 45 (146m by 199m)
Map sheet TL74NE
Civil Parish CLARE, ST EDMUNDSBURY, SUFFOLK

Map

Type and Period (4)

Full Description

House of Austin Friars, founded 1248 by Richard de Clare and probably the first of its order in England. Suppressed 1538. A well-equipped house, benefiting from royal patronage.
Prior's house converted into a dwelling house about 1604, has remains of hall (divided into two storeys 1500) and C14 work at service end. A square room incorporates part of S range (?).
Uninhabited remains (i.e. Scheduled area):
a) S wall of church, and screen between quire and S chapel or transept (?) much patched as garden wall, but containing tomb (? Joan of Acre, daughter of Edward I) and sedilia?
b) N and S wall (? E wall of cloister with entrance to chapter house vestibule).
c) Large, two storied building, now thrown into one, with separate cross compartment at E end. Circa 1300 with Med roof. Blind arcade at end. (? Hospitium) (S1).
1902: The site of the Priory Church was partially excavated by Sir William St John Hope and a plan was made (S3).
1962: Excavation of central tower, cloister etc by P Dickinson. Brass brooch with Earls coronet (Col Baker)(S2).
1996: Evaluation trenching S of main buildings and background documentary search by SAU. He evaluation identified an undisturbed buried soil under several layers of delibearte build up. The 19th cetnury stable block was not built on an earlier building. The only evidence of any activity eralier than 17th century was a single post hole cutting the meadow soil but under the post medieval layers. The two lowest built up layers might be medieval. The layers do not indicate intense activity on the site and suggest the area has always been open. Details in (S4).

2016: High-resolution ground penetrating radar survey was conducted within a portion of the grounds of Clare Priory which successfully identified four possible burial sites for further investigations. There are several further targets of lesser priority which may also be worth investigation. The survey also identified several linear structures and multiple areas of either sub-surface complexity or high reflectance. A linear feature possibly marks the line of the medieval step leading from the main body of the choir up to the smaller eastern section known as the presbytery and another possibly indicating steps leading from the presbytery to the area of the high alter. (S8).

Taken from NRHE record:
Clare Priory, traditionally founded in 1248, though the actual date is more likely to be 1249, was the first house of the Austin Friars to be established in England. It remained in their possession until surrendered at the suppression in 1538. The property passed to the Crown and then into private ownership. In 1953 the property was bequeathed to the Austin
Friars and since then has been used as a retreat and training college for novices.

Of the original buildings only the present Church and the Priors House are intact. The former was originally the Infirmary and is early 14th century. The latter is 14th/15th century with later additions and alterations. The monastic church was sited immediately to the north of the Great Cloisters and the only visible remains is the south wall.

Clare Priory (name plaque) a Catholic retreat and social centre incorporating the remains of the Augustinian Friary founded in 1248 and dissolved in 1539.

The S wall of the monastic church survives as a garden feature; the footings of the remaining church walls were discovered by excavation in 1904, and are now marked by a concrete border to a lawn. The fabric of the Priors House, the Great and Little Cloisters remain, though conversion to a private residence in the 16/17th c and later modifications have largely destroyed the monastic architectural style. Only the infirmary and rere-dorter, which are now converted to an RC chapel, retain a semblance of their original appearance. There is no trace and no evidence of a precinct wall.
Published survey (25") revised. See G.P's.

Sources/Archives (19)

  • <M1> (No record type): SAM file:.
  • <R1> Bibliographic reference: Victoria County History of Suffolk (Vol I 1911; Vol II 1907). VCH Suffolk 2, 1911, 121-129.
  • <S1> Unpublished document: Department of the Environment. Scheduling information.
  • <S2> (No record type): SAU, West S E, SMR card.
  • <M2> Unpublished document: Basil Brown. Basil Brown Archive. Brown B Archive: volumes, photograph.
  • <R2> Bibliographic reference: Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. PSIA 1, 1849, 61, 25, 26.
  • <S3> (No record type): Med Arch/2/1958/192.
  • <R3> Bibliographic reference: Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. PSIA 6, 73.
  • <M3> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file: (S4).
  • <M4> (No record type): Excavation archive:.
  • <R4> Bibliographic reference: Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. PSIA 8, 217 (plan).
  • <S4> Unpublished document: Caruth J & Breen A. 1996. Project report. Clare Priory, Clare.
  • <R5> Bibliographic reference: Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Archaeol in Suff, PSIA, 1957.
  • <S5> Photograph: Air Photographs. NAU, TL 770 450/JEG 10-14 & JEJ 1-2, 24/7/1992.
  • <R6> Unpublished document: Basil Brown. Basil Brown Archive. Brown B, XC, B107, photograph (1952), XCVIII, 103.
  • <S6> Photograph: Air Photographs. NAU, TL 769 452/JEH 1-4, 24/7/1992.
  • <R7> (No record type): Barnardiston E, Seven centuries of a Suffolk House, 1962, Heffer & Sons.
  • <S8> Unpublished document: Holbrook, P.. 2016. High-resolution Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey within the grounds of Clare Priory, Sudbury, Suffolk.
  • <S9> Digital archive: Historic England. National Record Of the Historic Environment.

Finds (1)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (6)

Record last edited

Nov 2 2022 4:44PM

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