Area Guide: The historic Hertfordshire town of Ware
Herts Ad Property team
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
A leafy town with around 18,000 residents, Ware is known for its proximity to Hertford - the county town is less than four miles away - and its peaceful riverside setting. We found out more about it.
Ermine Street, which Ware is built on, was the Roman road between London and Lincoln - and with signs of occupation dating back to 4000BC, the town is one of the oldest continuously occupied settlements in Europe.
Its modern name comes from the Anglo-Saxon period, when a series of weirs were constructed to thwart the escape of Viking invaders, fleeing after the defeat of Alfred the Great.
Thus, the River Lea that runs through Ware helped give it its name, as well as its industry.
For many years, Ware was a water-travel and brewing town; its bargemen were allowed to travel to the River Thames free of charge and some of its maltings are still standing today.
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Its riverside location makes Ware a popular spot for water-based activities such as boating, fishing and kayaking, and walkers and cyclists make the most of the towpath.
The Grade I listed Ware Priory, with its whitewashed walls and seven acres of gardens, is arguably the town's best-known building. Founded in 1338 as a friary, it's now a popular conference and wedding venue.
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The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Ware's parish church, is across the road from the Priory and dates back to the 14th century.
Adjacent to The Priory is Ware Museum, which aims to bring the town's history to life (COVID-restrictions permitting).
Homes currently on the market in Ware range from a five-bed Victorian detached house on Belle Vue Road for £1,375,000 to a studio apartment on Crib Street for £140,000.
According to Rightmove, the average selling price in the town over the last year was £410,013, with the majority of sales being of semi-detached properties, which changed hands for an average of £459,786
Ware is located next to the A10, about 10 miles north of the M25.
The station provides commuters with easy access to the capital, with connections to London Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale taking between 30 and 45 minutes.
Leisure and sport
One of the most popular attractions in Ware is Ventura Wildlife Park. It is home to zebras, emus, kangaroos and the rare Cuban Hutia. At the same site is Van Hage garden centre, with its miniature railway.
Regular boat tours run between Hertford and Ware along the River Lea, or you can simply wander along the riverside for a picnic at one of the many 18th century gazebos.
The art centre in the Southern Maltings offers a variety of workshops for art, dance and music, plus film screenings and four hireable rooms.
There is also an abundance of sporting activities available in Ware. The Wodson Park Sports and Leisure Centre boasts a wide array of facilities, including an athletics track, indoor gym and tennis courts.
Ware has two swimming pools, one of which is the Priory Lido, an outdoor pool which opens during the summer months.
In early July, the month-long Ware Festival begins with a parade through the town centre and along the River Lea of decorated boats and floats. Events in the following weeks vary year to year: they include a raft race, an over 60s party and a teddy bear's picnic, and culminate with a night of live music, Rock In The Priory. While 2020's event was cancelled due to COVID, tentative plans are in place for the festival to return this year.
Ware has several primaries ranked 'good' by Ofsted, plus Kingshill Infant School, which was rated 'outstanding' at its last inspection.
The town is also home to a pair of 'outstanding' state secondaries: the co-ed Chauncy School, and girls' school, Presdales. The latter was formerly Ware Grammar School, and counts Kim Wilde as a former pupil.
Food and drink
Ware's bustling high street is home to a large collection of restaurants and bars.
Favourites include The Sea Tree Ware, a hugely popular fish and chip restaurant and Casa Lua, a Spanish tapas bar.
Then there's the Saracen’s Head, a popular bar and restaurant on the banks of the River Lea.