The Clarke family has been in the building industry since at least 1857
One early project we know of is when William Clarke and his son (also William) built, or helped to build, Semers Cottages in Caters Lane, Bredfield during the latter part of the 19th Century.
Two other members of the Clarke family, John and Susan Clarke, were landlords of “The Dog” public house in Grundisburgh. The family ledger shows works he carried out for people, including the making of a baking board in 1863 for Mr. Randall in Bredfield for two shillings, and the cleaning and painting of Mr and Mrs Smith’s vinery, for three pounds, twelve shillings and nine pence.
John and Susan’s son, Frederic Charles Clarke, continued with the family’s building tradition and walked the streets of Grundisburgh with his cart, trading as a carpenter and joiner, whilst continuing to fill in his father’s ledger. In 1890 Frederic Clarke built a 25-foot smock mill from timber, which survived in the village until the Second World War. He was married to Mary.
During the 1920s Frederic was joined in business by his son Charles Clarke, who was also the landlord of “The Barley Mow” public house. Charles built “Stonilea”, into which he then moved and took the business. During the Second World War, Charles worked as a carpenter, making aeroplane parts at Hemingstone.
Charles Clarke & Son is officially founded
After the Second World War Charles was joined by his son, Charles Marcus Clarke, who had served in the Royal Engineers in Northern Africa, and the business was “officially” founded and given its name. It was around this time that the company moved from Bredfield, a small village just two miles north of Woodbridge, to nearby Gurndisburgh
Charles Marcus Clarke had three sons, Charles Frederic Robin Clarke (a.k.a. Bob, our current Managing Director), John Marcus Clarke, Peter Hale Clarke and a daughter, Jacqueline Mary Lilian Clarke.
The business flourished under Charles Marcus and all three sons joined the business, Bob and John as bricklayers and Peter as a plumber, contributing to the restoration of Grundisburgh House, which was badly damaged in a fire. During the 60s and 70s the company was involved in the housing of American Service personnel, based at Bentwaters and Woodbridge. New houses were also constructed in Woodbridge, Grundisburgh, Ipswich and other villages surrounding Grundisburgh.
In Grundisburgh, the firm built houses to create Jacqueline Close, Charles Avenue, Saddlers Meadow and a new rectory, “The Vines”. Following Charles Marcus’ death in 1986 the company was taken over by the three sons. After John’s death in 1997 Peter and Bob continued to run the company until Peter’s retirement in 2005. The day-to-day management of the company is now in the hands of Bob’s son, Charles John George Clarke.