Clare in Art

Clare Reliquary

Clare Reliquary Archaeological Journal XXV 1868

One of the finest works of art to come out of Clare is the Reliquary – now held by the Royal Collection Trust in the British Museum: a fifteenth century cross of gold, pearls and wood.  It is believed to have belonged to Cecily, Duchess of York, mother of both Edward IV and Richard III.  It was found in 1866 during the construction of the railway station.

Few artists have chosen to portray Clare in their artwork.

We have photographs from the mid-nineteenth century – you are welcome to see them within the rolling display in the Ancient House Museum.  Some are available as postcards – one of the most popular is the Muffin Man, Mr Powell:

Mr Powell the Muffin man

Mr Powell, the muffin man
Courtesy of Ancient House Museum

There’s a strong woodcut print from 1600 – it’s not located in Clare but it celebrates an unusual famous event, more fully documented here.

Will Kemp, Elizabethan Clown Jig

Will Kempe, the Elizabethan clown & actor, who jigged through Clare on his Nine Days’ Wonder from London to Norwich, Saturday 18th February 1600

There is an eighteenth century engraving of the castle, a romanticised view from the outer bailey.

Clare Castle engraving 1787

J Newton, published 1787

The Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden holds an oil & gouache painting by Kenneth Rowntree: this is of Clare Station.

Kenneth Rowntree, The Station Willows; The Fry Art Gallery 360 0045

Kenneth Rowntree, The Station Willows; The Fry Art Gallery

Rowntree moved to Great Bardfield in 1941; this was painted in the same year.  He was part of the Recording Britain Project.  The picture was donated by his friend, Sir John Verney.  We are indebted to The Fry Art Gallery and to the artist’s family for permission to include this image.

There is a watercolour of Chapel Cottage in Chilton Street  by Walter Ernest Spradbery (1889 – 1969): ‘The Old Chapel, Clare, Suffolk, A. L. Morton’s House’ (1958).  A L Morton was a well-known Marxist historian who settled in Clare and died in his house in 1987, aged 84.  ‘A People’s History of England’ remains well regarded.  He was a founder member of the William Morris Society: the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow holds the watercolour.  Spradbery is best known for his London Transport posters.

Annette Ashton is a painter who lives in Clare.  She specialises in landscapes & scenery, animals & wildlife.  We’ve chosen just one of her images:

Annette Ashton: Rape fields over Clare

Annette Ashton: Rape fields over Clare – courtesy of the artist

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