New Exhibition for 2013. 'The First Lady of Clare: Elizabeth de Burgh (1295-1360), a Celebration of her Contributions to the Town'.
Although already the subject of a full biography, Elizabeth de Burgh (nee de Clare), deserves to be better known. She was Lord of Clare manor and resident of Clare Castle through much of the 14th century. She founded Clare College Cambridge, entertained kings and great lords at the Castle, paid for buildings at Clare Priory, Angelsey Abbey and Walsingham, and left remarkable accounts and records for medieval historians. The exhibition provides background for the period (famine, wars and the Black Death), explains her connections with Kings Edward I-III, and her legacy for the town of Clare, its people and its market, for Clare College, and Clare Priory. A booklet about the exhibition is available for £3.00.
Clare Priory Bridge, the first 200 years
Also new is a small exhibit about the early cast iron bridge over the Stour, built in 1813 and still in daily use. The bridge, designed by William Cubitt and built by the Ipswich firm of Ransomes, was one of the earliest to be constructed of cast iron. When new, it was on the main road between Bury St Edmunds and London, although now the road is no longer so heavily used. The Trustees are very grateful to University Campus Suffolk for a UCS Community Grant towards this exhibit.
Tours of Clare under the auspices of the Museum
The Museum Trustees will repeat the programme of tours of Clare in the Summer of 2013. Adults £3; children free; Clare residents £2.
Dates of 2013 tours: Thursday 23 May, 2pm (will include archaeological digs at Clare Castle in a tour that focuses on the remaining 14th-century buildings in Clare, to complement the Elizabeth de Burgh exhibition)
Thursday 13 June, 2pm, Health walk
Thursday 22 August, 2pm, Focusing on the remaining 14th-century buildings in Clare, to complement the Elizabeth de Burgh exhibition
For information, contact the organizer, Phil Gryce at 01787 278192.
In addition the programme, tours for groups and for families can be booked in advance at convenient dates.
Previous new and events
'The Hollow Crown' by John Barton, 28 May 2012
An amateur performance of the readings and songs by and about royalty devised by John Barton took place in Clare Town Hall on Monday 28 May 2012 at 7pm. This performance was sponsored by the Museum, Clare Historical Society, and Stour Valley Community School. Performers included two students and one teacher from the School and the School's choir, one Museum Trustee, and one Museum and School supporter, under the direction of Paddy Barwise. The School designed the publicity (poster, tickets, souvenir programme), with the Museum providing historical advice. This formed part of Clare's celebration of the Diamond Jubilee, and brought the School closer to the community. Profits from the performance went to Stour Valley Community School.
The 2011 Archaeological Digs in Clare
The Museum's 2012 season featured a small exhibition about the 33 test pits that were dug by the children of Clare Middle School and by the people of Clare. The digging was under the auspices of Dr Carenza Lewis of Access Cambridge Archaeology, and also the project known as Managing a Masterpiece, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. A booklet about the digs remains available at £1.00.
2011-12 Exhibition: Clare during the Agricultural Depression 1870-1895
Times are tough today but towards the end of the 19th century the lives of ordinary people were far worse. The Agricultural Depression (1870-1895) brought misery and hardship to many people and Clare was no exception.
Agricultural workers' wages were only 11/- per week yet social pioneer Charles Booth who devised a standard of measurement called a 'poverty line' calculated a small family need 18/- to 21/- a week to live without actual want. Many families moved to nearby towns to seek work, others emigrated to Australia , New Zealand and Canada. Businesses in Clare suffered, shops closed, the hotel and inn trade had a sharp downturn and property prices especially farms plummeted.
Clare society has been studied through census returns, old documents and photographs and parish records. Surprisingly not many people from Clare were in the local workhouse because people here seemed to 'pull together'. Even the local doctor had three people boarding with him who were receiving parish relief. The many friendly societies and other lodges that had been set up to help those in need provided other benefits. The Poor Rate rose markedly because of unemployment and this placed an extra burden on already overstretched, and in many instances, bankrupt farmers. Despite this, there still appeared to be a general spirit of good will towards those who would work if only they could.
A booklet which provides research findings is available for £4.
The Neil Lanham collection
A recent donation to the Museum includes sale catalogues and posters of the estate agent and auctioneering firm of Charles Boardman. These were given by Neil Lanham who auctioneered for and later became proprietor of the firm. The items date from the mid 1890s until the late 20th century, and relate to Clare and a number of nearby villages. Included is a copy of a watercolour by Sir John Verney, which shows Neil Lanham auctioning furniture in Clare Town Hall. A catalogue is in preparation.
Clare Oral History Project
The Ancient House Museum has begun interviewing long-term residents of Clare for a project on the history of the town based on the memories of its residents. The project is headed by Anne Davies, who can be contacted via the Museum by anyone interested in participating.
The Clare arms on a late 13th-century steelyard weight (with enlarged photo behind). Elizabeth de Burgh's aunt Margaret de Clare married the 2nd Earl of Cornwall, who included her family arms on this weight. As Master of the Mint, he sent out weights to be used at local markets like the one in Clare. Kindly on loan from Moyse's Hall, Bury St Edmunds.
The medieval pilgrim with his signature cloak, walking stick and hat (showing 3 badges attached), and 2 examples of pilgrim badges, one a large replica of the badge for St Edmund, and the other an authentic badge for the pilgrimage to St James of Compostela in Spain