Area Guide: The pretty Hertfordshire town of Ware
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
A leafy town with around 18,000 residents, Ware is known for 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 has special activity days for children running all year round.
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 £381,714.
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.
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.
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 July, 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 and a teddy bear's picnic, and culminate with a night of live music, Rock In The Priory.
Ware has a handful of primaries ranked 'good' by Ofsted, plus Kingshill Infant School, which was rated 'outstanding'.
There are also a number of highly regarded secondaries, including The Chauncy School, which has 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.
Favourites include The Sea Tree Ware, a hugely popular fish and chip restaurant and Casa Lua, a Spanish tapas bar.