Area Guide: The Hertfordshire town of Ware

East Street, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon

East Street, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Packed with history and culture and with great schools and transport links, Ware has a lot to offer.

The River Lea, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The River Lea, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Less than four miles east of Hertford is the historic town of Ware.

Turning off the A10 and down the B1001, you’ll find yourself passing many medium to large properties ensconced by groves of trees on the way to the town centre. Deeper into the residential area, around Kingsway and Musley Lane, are similar groupings of modern, detached and semi-detached houses as well as smaller terraced homes.

Properties currently on the market in Ware include a six-bed detached on Bel-Vue Road for £1.4m and a modern four-bed semi-detached in Lady Margaret Gardens for £650,000.

The River Lea, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The River Lea, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant


One of the oldest continuously occupied settlements in Europe, with evidence of settlers as far back as 4000BC, Ware is rich in hidden history. It was also the site of a large Roman settlement during their occupation; Ermine Street, which Ware is built on, was the Roman road between London and Lincoln.

The town’s modern name is drawn 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.

The River Lea, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The River Lea, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

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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.

This extensive history can also be seen in the architecture of much of Ware; the local council offices, called The Priory, were constructed out of a timber-framed 14th century friary. This building on the A1170 lies opposite St Mary’s Church, which also dates back to the 14th century.

Much of this information can found chronicled at the Ware Museum. Sitting adjacent to The Priory, it is independent and staffed by volunteers with a number of exhibits and special activity days for children running all year round.

The Priory, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The Priory, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Leisure and sport

One of the most popular attractions in Ware is Ventura Wildlife Park. It is home to zebras, emus, kangaroos and the UK’s only Cuban Hutia. Van Hage garden centre, with its mini railway, is another popular attraction.

Carrying on this natural theme, 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.

St Mary the Virgin Church, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon

St Mary the Virgin Church, Ware. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

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 on Wadesmill Road boasts a wide array of facilities, featuring an athletics track, indoor gym and tennis courts, as well as restaurants.

Ware has two swimming pools, one being the Ware Priory Lido, one of the few remaining lido-style pools in the country.

Travel connections

Ware lies next to the A10 with quick connections onto the M25 and into London as well as central Hertfordshire, with A-roads running through Hertford and Stevenage and onto the A1 and M1 motorways.

The station also provides quick access to the city for commuters, with a connection to London Liverpool Street taking about 45-minutes.


Ware’s many young families are spoilt for choice when it comes to schools, with a handful of ‘good’ primaries for parents to choose from, plus Kingshill Infant School, which was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted at its last inspection.

There are also a number of highly regarded secondaries, including The Chauncy School, which received an ‘outstanding’ rating and was described as “an inspiring and exciting place to be”.

Food and drink

Ware’s high street features a large collection of restaurants and bars. The Saracen’s Head bar and restaurant at the riverside features live music and open mic nights, and across the town centre are a number of curry houses and Italian restaurants. Just round the corner on New Road is the Snug Bar, another gastropub with a menu full of British recipes and classic cocktails.

Events and festivals

In July, Ware transforms into a vibrant and happening town with a series of event weekends. The 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, a teddy bear’s picnic and culminate with a night of live music, Rock In The Priory.

Ware doesn’t stop there however – the town’s annual fireworks display, held on Guy Fawkes Night, attracts many thousands of attendees.