Clare has a long and interesting history and part of that history has bequeathed to the town a rich heritage that is all around us. The information below is a mere glimpse at the complex story of the town.
Paleolithic and Mesolithic implements have been found in the environs of the Castle whilst Neolithic implements have also been found in the Town. Clare has evidence of Roman occupation including Roman brick in the Parish Church. The town name first appears in the Domesday Book as ‘Clara’. The Norman family who built the Castle took the name of the town and became known as de Clares. Their history is closely related to the various monarchs of the age. Richard de Clare, 3rd Earl of Hertford and his son Gilbert were two of the 25 barons appointed as guardians to Magna Carta of 1215. A later Gilbert de Clare, the last male de Clare, was killed at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Eventually the castle began to fall into disrepair and much of the town was built with material from the Castle. In more recent times the railway came to Clare and the town has the only railway that was built within the grounds of a castle. This site contains more information on the Railway and the Castle.
There are over 135 listed buildings in Clare. Grade 1 are three religious buildings: the Priory, the Chapel to the Priory and the Parish Church of St Peter and Paul. There are three domestic grade 1 houses: Cliftons and Nethergate House in Nethergate Street and the Ancient House in High Street. The Ancient House, with its florid pargeting, is now a museum.