The Small Town of Clare

Clare before the
Norman Conquest

The Clare Lordship

The Castle

The Medieval Town

Borough and Manor

The Parish Church

The House of Austin Friars

The Woollen Industry

The Town in the
Sixteenth and
Seventeenth Centuries

Early Nonconformity

Schools and Charities

Later History of the Town




Schools and Charities

The first reference to a school in Clare is in the mid-fourteenth century, when a certain Master John was described as schoolmaster there. In the sixteenth century we find a Chilton priest teaching "one Grammar scole to the good and vertuous instruction and educacyon of the yowths there". This school may have been that held in the Gildhall for some years before 1550, and contemporary writing has been found on one of its walls; but nothing is known of the fate of the school after the dissolution of the gilds. More than a century later William Cadge, yeoman, who died in 1669, bequeathed land in Barnardiston then leased at 28 a year, of which 15 was to be used for clothing poor widows, and 10 for the annual salary of a schoolmaster who should teach ten poor boys of the town. He was to be chosen by the vicar and chief inhabitants, and was to teach English, Latin and Greek; the Market Cross was used for the school. N 1818 it was said that Classics were no longer taught; but the school continued for some time, being held at Grove House c.1850. At this time there were also several private academies, three of them taking boarders. In 1875 the National Schools were converted into elementary schools under a School Board. Recently these became primary and infants schools with the building a new Secondary School east of the Cavendish Road.

The Parish Church

The Church had received several charitable bequests, some of considerable value, since the sixteenth century. It had four almshouses near the churchyard, and two cottages on the common. The income from Bridewell meadow was to supply fuel for the widows in the almshouses; and bread for the poor was provided from the rent of Goosecroft meadow. The grant of the Common Pasture by Queen Catherine and the several lawsuits which resulted have already been mentioned. Probably the most singular bequest was that for a peal to be rung in Clare Church on every fifth of November "in perpetuall memory of that famous deliverance".

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