Ware, a town and a parish in Herts. The town stands on the river Lea, and on the Broxbourne and Hertford branch of the G.E.R., on which it has a station, 2 miles ENE of Hertford, and 21 by road and 22½ by rail from London. It has water communication by means of the Lea with the Thames at Blackwall, about 20 miles distant. It was called Guare or Guaris by the Saxons, and Waras at Domesday; was the scene of a manoeuvre by the Danes, who brought up their vessels to it and constructed a dam across the river to defend them, and of the counteraction of that manoeuvre by Alfred, who diverted the water from the river's bed and stranded the vessels. It belonged at Domesday to Hugh de Grentemaisnel, who founded at it a Benedictine priory, a cell to Uticain Abbey in Normandy; passed to E. Blanchmains, the Earls of Winchester, the Wakes, the Hollands, the Montacutes, the Nevilles, the Plantagenets, the Fanshaws, and the Rydes. In 1242 it was the place of a tournament at which the Earl of Pembroke was trampled to death, and it suffered damage by a flood in 1408. The " great bed of Ware," a famous ancient carved oak bedstead, referred to by Shakespeare, Johnson, and other writers, is still preserved at the Eye House Inn, near Hoddesdon. Ware was formerly a market-town, and it still has fairs in April and September. Ware is the largest malting town in England, and brewing and brickmaking are carried on. It is a seat of petty sessions and the head of a union, and has a head post office and a bank. The petty sessions court is a building of red brick in the Gothic style, which was erected in 1882. The town-hall stands in the High Street, and contains two large rooms, one of which will hold 500 persons; a reading-room, and a library. The workhouse stands on Musley Hill. Area of the parish, 4705 acres; population, 5706. For parish council purposes the civil parish of Ware is divided into Ware urban and Ware rural, each with a parish council. Ware Park is a chief residence, standing in a park of about 209 acres. Ware Priory was originally a house of the Franciscan or Grey Friars, but it has been restored and modernised. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of St Albans; net value, £213 with residence, in the gift of Trinity College, Cambridge. The church, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, stands in the centre of the town, and is an ancient cruciform building of flint and stone in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel with S chapel, nave, transepts, aisles, S porch, and an embattled western tower. It contains a fine carved octagonal font about 500 years old, and some ancient tombs and brasses. The ecclesiastical parish of Christchurch was formed in 1858 from the parishes of Ware and Great Amwell. The living is a vicarage of the net value of £354 with residence. The church, erected in 1858, is a building of stone in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, and a lofty tower with a broach spire. The ecclesiastical district of Wareside was formed in 1844 from the parishes of Ware and Thundridge. The living is a vicarage of the net value of £160, in the gift of the Vicar of Ware. The church, erected in 1841, is a small building of white brick and stone in the Byzantine style. There are Roman Catholic, Catholic Apostolic, Baptist, Congregational, and Wesleyan chapels.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Ware St. Mary|
|Poor Law union||Ware|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Ware from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Ware (St. Mary))
Land and Property
A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Hertfordshire is online.
Online maps of Ware are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Hertfordshire newspapers online:
- Hertford Mercury and Reformer
- Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser
- Watford Observer
The Visitations of Hertfordshire, 1572 and 1634. Edited by Walter C. Metcalfe, F.S.A. is available on the Heraldry page.