Stoke-by-Clare is a small village in the River Stour Valley, on the Suffolk/Essex borders. It has a lovely village green, the Lion Pub, which dates from the 17th century and a community village shop, which includes a post office.
The Church of St. John the Baptist is next to the entrance to Stoke College, an independent school. At one time, it was a college for priests, the church being the collegiate church. It appears to be large for this small village, but it demonstrates the earlier importance of this attractive village. The church has been rebuilt at least three times. The base of the tower is 13th century, the chancel is 15th century and the nave dates from the 16th century.
The Dean of the College was Matthew Parker, who was the private chaplain to Queen Anne Boleyn in 1535 and later became chaplain to Henry VIII. In 1559, he was chosen by Elizabeth I to be Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a very influential person in the Church of England and was granted a Royal warrant to seek out religious documents. He gained a reputation as a ruthless investigator and it is believed that he was the origin of the phrase, “nosey parker”.