The River Stour
The river flowing through Clare Castle Country Park is the Stour, pronounced Stoor or Stowr. The pronunciation of the name varies even locally and is often the subject of debate. The Stour has been immortalised in its lower reaches by John Constable who used the river as a feature in many of his most celebrated paintings.
The Stour having its source in Cambridgeshire flows east towards the North Sea and for most of its length it forms the county border between Suffolk and Essex. The river in Clare Castle Country Park is a mill stream called the 'new cut', built to operate a mill that was owned, by the Priory. The mill has long since ceased operating. The original course of the river flows to the south and east of the Priory and it is this course that continues to mark the county boundary.
The 'new cut' is dammed at a gated weir and at this point is joined by the Chilton Stream which flows along the eastern boundary of the Park. Along with the Park lakes the rivers form a tranquil home to a wide variety of wildlife (see Flora and Fauna) including the famous Clare swans who are a noted feature of the Park. Above the main doorway of the Swan Public House in Clare is possibly the oldest inn sign in England, thought to be originally the base of an oriel window taken from Clare Castle. The sign shows a chained swan that may have been associated with the nobility of the Castle or their royal relatives. (more information can be found on Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clare,_Suffolk