St Peter and St Paul Wool Church Clare

The grand and beautiful church of St Peter and St Paul dominates the town of Clare and is one of the largest of Suffolk's wool churches. It dates from the 13th century and was both heightened and elongated considerably in the 15th Century as a result of the success of the wool trade,  a trade with origins in Clare that date to the 13th Century.  Indeed it is documented that in 1345 Clare Manor alone sold 3,000 local fleeces!   The impressive and massive stature of St Peter and St Paul's is indicative of the vast wealth generated locally by the wool trade, as it was common practice for the affluent of the time to donate sizeable sums to the rebuilding of their local church as was the case in Clare. 

It's somewhat sparse interior however, was the result, in 1643, of William Dowsing and others commissioned by Parliament, to destroy all superstitious images and ornaments within the church.  This resulted in the destruction of hundreds of stained glass image and other artefacts, nevertheless despite this St Peter and St Paul's church still manages to impress and is well worth a visit.

Notable External Features 

Built in the English perpendicular style the exterior walls of St Peter and St Paul church display competent examples of knapped flint and stone flushwork.  The oldest surviving part is the base of the tower dating back to the 13th century, which still dominates this impressive church and houses the eight bells which remains the heaviest ring in Suffolk. A further feature surviving its medieval construction are the stunning rood stair turrets complete with mini spire situated either side of the east end of the nave.     

Internal Gems Awaiting Your Discovery ...    

Despite William Dowsing's attempt to destroy all stained glass images in 1643 the extraordinary survival of a few of the medieval panels, including those of the sun and the moon is a rarity and unique within East Anglia. The heraldic shield stained glass window is also notable as it contains pieces of medieval glass throughout, rescued after the aforementioned destruction.  The later window of the crucifixion by FC Eden is particularly stunning and is located in the north aisle.  

Other interesting items which survived within the church are the late 15th century brass lectern in the form of an eagle with three dogs as feet, an 18th century bell ringer's 'gotch' or beer jug and a private pew with inscribed with the emblems of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.


                          Location:   St Peter and St Paul Church, Clare

                           High Street
                           CO10 8NY                 Telephone:  01787 278482