Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Hertfordshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 35680 14430



TL3514SE CHURCH STREET 829-1/9/53 (South side) 08/05/50 Church of St Mary (Formerly Listed as: Church of Saint Mary)


Parish church. C13 chancel and transepts, remnants of smaller building, nave rebuilt early C15 with clerestory, and aisles added, tower at west end c1330, C15 south porch and south chapel, and north chapel, now organ chamber. Restored 1847-9 by George Godwin, who renewed the stonework of many of the windows, and again in 1886. South chapel restored 1903. Exterior flint with clunch dressings, quoins, bands, string courses, copings, offsets, doors and windows, and lead-covered roofs. PLAN: cruciform plan, 3 bay chancel, with 2 bay former north chapel and 2 bay south chapel, north and south transepts, 4 bay aisled nave, south porch and west tower. EXTERIOR: C13 chancel much restored mid C19 and early C20 has parapeted roof, lower than the transepts, and C15 octagonal turrets which originally served the rood loft, project above the roof, and rise to provide access to the nave and transept roofs. Angle buttress to south-east corner. C19 5-light east window in moulded surround, with projecting dripmould, with cusped rectilinear tracery. Vestry to north of chancel, C15, heavily restored mid C19, with embattled parapeted roof, restored C15 3-light window with ogee headed cusped tracery under flat head with projecting dripmould and C19 arched north door. To west restored C15 former north chapel, organ chamber since mid C19 with parapeted roof and two 2-light windows with cusped ogee traceried heads under flat heads with projecting dripmoulds. C14 south chapel, restored mid C19, with parapeted and embattled roof, projecting angle buttresses, with two C19 3-light windows with cusped ogee tracery under flat heads with projecting dripmoulds. C13 north transept, restored mid C19, with angle buttresses and embattled parapeted roof at higher level to that of adjoining north chapel and chancel. Clerestorey with two C19 2-light windows with cusped trefoil heads under flat heads with projecting dripmoulds. C19 restored 5-light north window with reticulated tracery. C14 north aisle with embattled parapeted roof, 4 bays, with angle buttresses and diagonal buttress at north-west corner, 2 restored 2-light windows with cusped geometrical tracery, one 3-light window, restored west window with reticulated tracery and C19 north doorway which leads into 1982 north extension. C14 south aisle with embattled parapeted roof, 4 bays, with one angle buttress, and diagonal buttress at south-west corner. South porch C15, with C19 side windows, and restored doorway with carved spandrels under flat dripmould; angle buttresses and embattled roof. Restored C14 doorway from south porch opens into second bay from west. Restored 3-light west window with reticulated tracery, 3 restored south windows with curvilinear tracery. Clerestorey of nave raised C15, with parapeted embattled roof, four 3-light windows with cusped trefoil heads, all restored. West tower in 5 stages, with offset angle buttresses with clunch quoins, 4 stone bands, an embattled parapet, and a recessed leaded needle spire or `Hertfordshire Spike'. 2-light window over west doorway, clock in fourth stage, with faces west and south. The bell chamber has four 2-light windows with mouldings, and an inner arch carried on colonnettes with moulded capitals and bases. C15 doorway, with moulded arch and jambs, and a C15 door, with original locks, in north chancel wall. Further west is a C15 arch into the organ chamber. INTERIOR: early C20 sanctuary steps and 1893 marble dado and mosaic floor. In south chancel wall a C15 piscina with moulded jambs and pointed arch under a square head, a C19 3-light window, and part of a C13 moulded window jamb adjoining a large round-headed arch divided into 2 by moulded stone tracery springing from a central purbeck marble column of 4 clustered shafts separated by hollows. The chancel roof is C19 tie-beam and king post construction with traceried panels, painted with arms including Trinity College, Cambridge, the Diocese of St Albans and the Diocese of Rochester. The corbels of angels playing musical instruments supporting the braces to the tie-beams are restored C15. North chapel occupied by organ since 1866, has C18 arch opening into north transept. The south chapel has C19 windows, and a C19 restored roof, with corbels, moulded beams, divided into panels, originally decorated with biblical scenes. In the south wall is a restored sedilia with piscina alongside, c1380 with moulded cusped ogee arches, and carved heads, traditionally held to be portraits of Henry Tudor and his mother, Margaret, Countess of Richmond. The oak communion rails c1640 were brought from Benington Church, with a Jacobean altar, and a reredos and panelling installed during the 1886 restoration. The late C18 panelling of the dado around the chapel was fashioned from the Ware Park pew, formerly standing in the nave. C15 oak screen dividing the south chapel from the south transept, installed across late C14 arch from south transept. C19 rebuilt north transept window has wave moulded inner jambs and rear arch, probably C13. Two arched recesses in north wall - central, low down below window, with moulded jambs and a segmental arch, and right, with a segmental and cinquefoiled with leaf sub-cuspings, and an ogee crocketed head with head stops and a foliated finial. C19 rebuilt south transept window has C15 double-ogee moulded jambs and inner arch, decayed C14 piscina in south wall. The aisles have a C14 string course below the windows. Nave arcade c1410, with complex mouldings, with colonnettes recessed within the main profiles which run through uninterrupted. Four 2-light clerestory windows, all restored, but retain C15 inner arches and jambs. The nave roof is C15, restored C19, of chestnut with moulded tie-beams and braces carried on corbels, c1865, carved with figures of the Apostles, and traceried spandrels. Squat moulded king posts and moulded purlins and principal rafters, decorated with heraldic shields, faces and grotesques. The tower arch is C14 with chamfered jambs and a moulded arch. FITTINGS: font c1380 in westernmost nave bay, octagonal, stone, with quatrefoil panels on the short stem, and on the bowl figures of high relief of the Virgin and the Archangel Gabriel, and Saints, alternating with angels holding musical instruments and emblems of the Passion. Plain cover, 1979, by Riley and Glanfield carved by Sigfried Pietzch, replacing elaborate late 1840s Gothic style cover carved by Philip Wynne, now displayed in north aisle. Mid C17 pulpit, oval, Jacobean style, with lozenge-shaped raised panels and tapered pilasters. In south aisle, west bay, are former communion rails c1633, oak, with moulded top rail and vase-on-vase balusters, removed during 1848 restoration and reinstated in present position in 1933. At the time of their original installation, these were the cause of the resignation of the Puritan incumbent, Rev. Charles Chauncy, who subsequently emigrated to the United States, and became the second President of Harvard College, Massachusetts. STAINED GLASS: E and W windows by Wailes, 1849-50. Chapman Allen window, S aisle, by Shrigley and Hunt, c1885. Page memorial window, N transept, Christ in Majesty flanked by Saints, c1910 by Christopher Whall, influenced by Burne-Jones, donated by Elizabeth Ann Croft. By the same artist the nearby north aisle window, also donated by Mrs Page Croft, in 1905, as a thank offering for the safe return of her son, wounded in the Boer War. MONUMENTS include, in the chancel a tablet in memory of Rev. Charles Chauncy, Vicar of Ware 1627-1633 who emigrated to the United States (vide supra), and a large Soane-style wall memorial to William Murrell, 1826 by Rouw. On the east wall of the south transept a large carved marble aedicule, flanked by unfluted Ionic columns, surmounted by arms, above a broken segmental pediment, commemorating Sir Richard Fanshawe, Bart., Privy Councillor and Ambassador to Spain, 1666. On the north aisle wall, adjacent to the north door, a memorial to the Rev. Robert Atkinson, by H Cox, Northampton, elliptical plaque, with a tapered surround surmounted by an urn, with a shelf below with books, inkwell and foliage, 1756. Brasses to Elene Warburton 1454 in north transept; to a lady c1425, south transept, to W Pyrry 1470, with wives and children. HISTORICAL NOTE: the rebuilding of Ware Church c1380 traditionally associated with Joan of Kent, the `fair maid of Kent', wife of the Black Prince, mother of Richard II and Lady of Ware Manor. Local tradition associates the carved heads at the termination of the arched opening between chancel and south chapel with portraits of Joan of Kent and Edward III; the crowned head at the apex of the arch of the C14 doorway from the south porch is said to represent the Black Prince. After the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII gave the former Alien Priory (qv), the church living, and the land to Trinity College, Cambridge as part of its endowment: the college retains the living. The church fell into decay in the C17 and C18, and was badly damaged by storms in autumn 1703, which blew out the clerestory windows. The porch was repaired, windows shuttered and porch doors were installed. By 1847 the Vicar, Rev. JW Blakesley, set about restoration and appointed George Godwin, editor of The Builder and The Ecclesiologist, as architect. He removed the gallery erected in the north transept 1687 for the Bluecoat boys from Place House (qv), resited the organ in the north chapel, and restored, and substantially rebuilt the stonework and windows. The pews were installed in the 1880s. In 1982 a large north extension containing church offices and classrooms was constructed leading from the north door through a linking corridor. It is not of special architectural interest. (Edwards E and Perman D: Ware's Past In Pictures: Ware: 1991-: 120-1; Hunt EM: The History of Ware: Hertford: 1986-1946: 41-55, 67-72, 154-7; Lavender S: Churches, Chapels and Faiths of Ware: Ware: 1989-: 13; Perman D: 600 Yrs of Charity. A Brief History of the Ware Charity Trustees: Ware: 1991-: 19-20; The Buildings of England: Pevsner N (rev. Cherry B): Hertfordshire: Harmondsworth: 1977-: 20, 23, 376-8; Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England): An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire: London: 1910-: 226-8; Perman D: Ware UD. List of buildings of special arch or historic interest: 1993-: 1; Ware 25" to 1 Mile. Surveyed by the Ordnance Survey Department: 1851-; The Victoria History of the County of Hertford: London: 1912-: 381; Palmer D: St Mary the Virgin, Ware, Hertfordshire: Hertford: 1980-).

Listing NGR: TL3568014430


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Doubleday, A, The Victoria History of the County of Hertford, (1912), 381
Edwards, , Perman, , Wares Past in Pictures, (1991), 120-1
Hunt, E M, The History of Ware 1986-1946, (1986), 41-55
Hunt, E M, The History of Ware 1986-1946, (1986), 67-72
Hunt, E M, The History of Ware 1986-1946, (1986), 154-7
Lavender, S , Churches Chapels and Faiths of Ware, (1989), 13
Palmer, D, St Mary the Virgin Ware, (1980)
Perman, D , 600 Years of Charity: A Brief History of the Ware Charity Trustees, (1991), 19-20
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, (1977), 20
Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Hertfordshire, (1910)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 23 Jul 2001
Reference: IOE01/03903/08
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr A. Gude. Source Historic England Archive
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