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THE PRIORY

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  WARE GREYFRIARS
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A Franciscan Friary founded in 1338, probably for twelve friars, by Thomas, second Lord Wake of Liddell. The friary was suppressed in 1538 and became a private house in 1544. The southern claustral range was incorporated into house known as 'The Priory'. The west wing of The Priory contains evidence of a free standing hall, the earliest known building on the site, which may have been built in the early 14th century, although some architectural details suggest an origin in the 13th century and point to the possibility of a pre-existing structure, perhaps a messuage. By the later 14th or early 15th century the hall had been converted into a guest wing, and it is the architecture of this period which largely characterises the present house. The house also conatins elements of the cloister walk and the frater. The ornate 15th century arcade, which formerly faced into the cloister garth, was retained as a principle feature of the external walls on the east side of the central hall and the north side of the eastern wing, and is still visible. Small scale excavations and chance discoveries within the grounds of The Priory have revealed the location of the friary church to the north of the eastern end of the eastern wing. The house had several periods of major refurbishments in the mid 18th and late 19th centuries, most notably in the 1850s by the architect George Godwin. Hitching (2010) documents that James Pulham and Son worked on the gardens at the turn of the 20th century.

Residential use ceased during the First World War when the house served as a Red Cross hospital. Then in the 1920s the house was converted to offices for the former Ware Urban District Council. It was restored as local council offices, community centre and restaurant in 1993-4 by the architects Donald Insall and Associates.

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