Where is Ware? Residents of the leafy Hertfordshire town are used to being asked this question - yet people have been settling in Ware for longer than almost anywhere else in the country. A number of historians have written that the town is "one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe."Ware has plenty of historical significance and you only have to walk up the high street (and just off it) to catch a glimpse of some of its architectural jewels, many of them timber-framed.
There is also the Priory, built as a Franciscan Friary in the 14th century and still used for weddings and social functions today; the weird but wonderful Scott's Grotto, an underground house made of shells; and the 18th century gazebos that were constructed along the river by Ware's innkeepers to keep people coming to the town when travellers began to find alternative roads to the North.But it's not just the history of Ware that makes it so appealing. It is surrounded by stunning countryside and attracts bird lovers, walkers and cyclists to its paths that run alongside the narrow-boat lined River Lea. It boasts a number of fantastic restaurants and pubs and makes shopping easy with its pleasant mix of mainly independent retailers (though there is also a Tesco and Boots) and twice-weekly market stalls.
It is an easy ride for London commuters as it's just 20 miles from the capital and connected by direct trains to Liverpool street. The picturesque town of Hertford is just minutes up the road, offering a further train connection and shopping opportunities, and the bustling cities of Stevenage and St Albans are within half an hour's drive.
Ware has always been a welcoming place. At one time every building on the south side of the high street was a pub (or 'hostelry'), leading the Tudor poet, William Vallens, to describe his home town as 'the guest town of Ware'. Five hundred years later visitors here are still given a warm welcome - just one of the many reasons it is such a popular place to live.