Clare, Clere, and Clères
By Keith Briggs
Journal of the English Place-name Society, Vol.41 (2009)
Introduction: The name of Clare in Suffolk is one of the few major settlement names in East Anglia of unknown etymology. A similar mystery surrounds the Hampshire names Kingsclere, Highclere, and Burghclere, all containing the element clere which must have a single origin. Clères is a village north of Rouen in Normandy. There is a remarkable lack of variation on the early spellings of all these names, which are most often Clara, Clera, or Clere. The purpose of this article is to examine the hypothesis that these three place-names are identical in origin, and to discuss what that origin might be. To do this it is necessary to look at the history of each place, and of the noble families associated with them.