The River Lea in Ware is popular with canoeists and walkers, but is probably not on many tourists’ to do lists. I live nearby but only just discovered the quaint Dutch summerhouses that line the river just outside the town centre. It forms the largest collection of riverside gazebos anywhere in Britain.
Some of these buildings date back to the 17th century, but most were constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries: as traffic became a growing problem along Ware High Street, owners of properties here took to building small outhouses at the bottom of their gardens, overlooking the river. They were probably inspired by the buildings along the canals in the Netherlands, indeed the majority were built during the reign of William of Orange, and they became known as Dutch summerhouses.
After World War II there was talk of building a road between the houses and the river; owners were unwilling to invest in the upkeep of these potentially estranged buildings and they fell into disrepair. This remained the case until the 1980s when restoration funds were finally raised. At this point the outhouses became known as Gazebos and the first was lovingly restored in 1984.