St Peter and St Paul Church is a Grade I listed building in the heart of the small market town of Clare. Parts of the West tower date back to the thirteenth century, and a board in the church lists an uninterrupted line of clergy from the year 1307 to the present day (the same list appears on the church’s Wikipedia page).

Surviving fragments of stained glass
Surviving fragments of stained glass

One of the first things you notice on entering the church is the light. The reason for this is that many of the stained glass windows were smashed out by the Provost-Marshall William ‘Basher’ Dowsing during the English Civil War and replaced with plain glass. If you look carefully you will see tiny coloured fragments in one or two panes around the edges of the stone window frames that he missed with his musket. Such was his enthusiasm that there are bullet holes in the roof.

Between 1643–44, as “Commissioner for the destruction of monuments of idolatry and superstition” Dowsing desecrated around 250 churches in East Anglia.

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