Ware, Hertfordshire

Priory Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Ware, Hertfordshire

Benedictine Priors

The church of St Mary the Virgin in Ware is one of southern Hertfordshire’s best. A Saxon town stood here at the time of the Domesday Book and a priest is recorded as being here, so a church must have existed already by that time. Around the same time the land was granted to Hugh de Grandmesnil and one of his first acts was to found a Priory here as a daughter house of the Benedictine Abbey at St. Evroul, Normandy.

This Priory Church is not to be confused with what we now call Ware Priory – which was a much later Franciscan Friary. It is thought the first church was built under the instruction of Joan of Kent around 1380. She was the wife of the Black Prince and mother of the future Richard II.

The Benedictine’s flourished in Ware until 1414 when Henry V suppressed Ware Priory. The Church became the Parish Church for the town and the remaining Priory buildings were removed – many were used to found the Franciscan Friary which is now known as Ware Priory.

It is thought that the church was re-built under the aegis of Rosamund, the “Fair Maid of Kent” who was the mother of Henry VII.

Henry VIII put the Church under the care of Trinity College, Cambridge – and the chancel is still in their upkeep today.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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