Area Guide: The Hertfordshire market town of Ware

The River Lea, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO

The River Lea, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

With its peaceful riverside setting and rich history, it's easy to see why Ware's 18,000 residents choose to call the Hertfordshire town home. We found out more about it... 

The River Lea, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO

The River Lea, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Just three miles from Hertford, this Hertfordshire hotspot benefits from a mix of excellent amenities with the River Lea at its heart.

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 Lea helped give Ware 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.

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.

East Street, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO

East Street, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

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, as well as being the town council headquarters. 

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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.

Property

According to Rightmove, the average selling price in the town over the last year was £376,596, with the majority of sales being flats (averaging £245,758). 

Park Road, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO

Park Road, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Homes currently on the market in Ware include a two-bed detached bungalow on Strawberry Fields for £1,050,000, a three-bed semi on Hampden Hill for £525,000 and a two-bed flat within a converted pub on Milton Road for £349,995. 

Travel

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

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 River Lea, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO

The River Lea, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

The arts centre in the Southern Maltings offers a variety of workshops for art, dance and music, plus film screenings and four hireable rooms.

One of Ware's popular family attractions is Van Hage garden centre, home to East Herts Miniature Railway.

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.

Ware Festival will return to the town on July 2, following a two-year Covid-induced hiatus. The festival begins with a parade through the town centre and along the River Lea of decorated boats and floats and culminates on July 17 with a day-long concert, Rock in the Priory. 

School

Ware has several primaries ranked 'good' by Ofsted, plus Kingshill Infant School and Middleton School, which were rated 'outstanding' at their last inspections.

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

High Street, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO

High Street, Ware. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Ware's bustling high street is home to a large collection of restaurants and bars.

Favourites include The Village Taverna, a Greek eatery renowned for its warm welcome, and The Sea Tree Ware, a hugely popular fish and chip restaurant.

Favoured pubs that also offer food include The White Horse and the Saracen’s Head, which has a prime spot on the banks of the River Lea. 

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden (www.frosts.co.uk/branches) - Credit: Archant