At the heart of the Country Park is Clare Castle, first built in the 11th century by Richard FitzGilbert, a Norman knight who was rewarded by William the Conqueror with large estates in Suffolk, Essex and Kent. He is estimated to have been the sixth wealthiest non-royal layman in England at the time of Domesday Book in 1086. Richard had built a castle at Tonbridge before the one in Clare, but Richard and his descendants made Clare their administrative seat, eventually taking the family name from the town. The Castle flourished for 3 centuries until the death of Elizabeth de Clare in 1360. The marriage of her granddaughter led the Castle into royal hands and by the sixteenth century it was already in ruins. Later it passed into private hands resulting eventually in it being compulsorily purchased to form part of the Great Eastern Railway as Clare station which was open from 1865 until 1967. In 1970, the remaining Castle grounds were donated to Clare Rural District Council and West Suffolk Council, the railway land was re-purchased, and in 1972 Clare Castle Country Park opened, by then solely owned by Suffolk County Council.
To find our more please visit the Clare Castle Country Park Website.