market town of Tring lies in magnificent countryside in the
Hertfordshire Chilterns. Both the Town and surrounding area offer much
to interest the visitor.
Tring is thought to derive
from the Saxon 'Tre', meaning 'tree'. This, when suffixed with 'ing' meant
"a place of trees", which still describes the character of
much of the surrounding countryside. The Town
forms part of the Borough of "Dacorum", a name that also has
ancient origins in the time when west Hertfordshire was
occupied by the Vikings. The
hundred formed by
this area became known by its Anglo-Saxon name, Danais, meaning "of the Danes",
but by the end of the 12th century this had been Latinised to Dacorum. When local government
was re-organised in 1974, the administrative area that includes the
districts of Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted & Tring was named Dacorum.
Tring is situated in a low point at the summit of the Chiltern Hills
- the "Tring Gap" - at the junction of the old
Roman Akeman Street (buried beneath the Tring bypass) and the Icknield Way. Akeman Street was a major Roman road
that linked London to Cirencester, its route passing through Tring, Aylesbury and Bicester before
veering to the south-west and its final destination. Much of the section between
London and Bicester is still used today as the A41. Icknield Way was one of the few
long-distance trackways to predate the Roman occupation. The present day
Path, which passes just to the south of Tring and is much favoured
by walkers, follows the course of the Icknield Way's western section.
Members of the
Wendover Canal Trust
rebuilding the Tring to Wendover Canal
Opened ca. 1799, the section of the Arm west of Little Tring was
closed to navigation in 1897 and abandoned in 1904. The
towing-path provides a pleasant walk (6¾
miles) from the Grand Union Canal
Grand Junction Canal) at Bulbourne
Junction, past Tring (Gamnel Wharf), Buckland, Aston Clinton and Halton, and on to Wendover.
A few months later
reconstruction has moved on ― it's reassuring to see that the
subject of their endeavour holds water . . . .
Nice to see the flooded section of
the Wendover Arm at Little Tring being used for leisure.
There is evidence
that people have lived in this attractive and fertile area
for thousands of years. It exists in such relics as the Iron Age barrows,
ditches and defence works
that lie along the route of the Ridgeway
Path and in Saxon burials, some of which were unearthed recently during
the extension of the Tring Bypass. But as with other aspects of
British history, few reliable documentary records predate the Norman
After his defeat of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066,
"William the Conqueror" is believed to have accepted the final
surrender of the Saxon nobles at Berkhamsted Castle, just a few miles
down the road from Tring, and it was here that William was thought to
have been declared
King of England (although the
monastic chronicler might have had 'Little' Berkhamsted in mind, which lies to
the east of the County near Hatfield).
last execution of an English witch was in 1686 and the last trial
for witchcraft was in 1717. However, in 1751, the Half Moon pub at
Wilstone near Tring was the venue of the inquest into the death of a
vagrant, Ruth Osborn. Ruth, accused by townsfolk of being a witch, had
been drowned in the village pond by a mob, prominent among which was
a drunken chimney sweep, Thomas Colley. Colley was later executed at
Tring for her murder and
his body hung in chains near the scene as a warning to those who would
murder so-called witches. The authorities took the precaution of
bringing in a
troop of soldiers to make sure that the
locals - who really did believe Ruth to be a witch - did not prevent the hanging.
(.pdf file, 2.2MB) - courtesy Wendy Austin]
dividing up the spoils of war among his supporters, William granted the
Manor of Tring to Count Eustace II of Boulogne, who had been fully
involved in the fray at Hastings and is thought to be the knight whose
name is faintly depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry as "Eustatius".
Twenty years later, William's great stocktaking ledger, the
Doomsday) Book, refers to
Tring as one of Count Eustace's
holdings. Our original parish church probably dated from this period,
but was either destroyed or rebuilt, for Norman stonework exists in
parts of the exterior of our present church,
Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
which probably formed part of a frieze on the interior walls of the
Church's chancel, date from a slightly later period.
There was an Old Person of Tring,
Who embellished his nose with a ring
He gazed at the Moon, every evening in June,
That ecstatic Old Person of Tring.
In 1385, Richard II granted the Town a charter
 to hold a weekly market, which
continues to this day and is now located on the site of Tring's former
Cattle Market. The architect Christopher Wren, famed for Saints Paul's Cathedral,
the Wren Library and many beautiful London churches, designed and built one of his
three country houses in
and it is here that Charles II is said to have taken the occasional break
with his mistress, Nell Gwyn. The Park's 300 acre formal landscape (now
managed by the
was created in the late 17th and early 18th century by Charles Bridgeman and James Gibbs.
Its design combines gently undulating grassland, carefully placed groups of
trees and a backdrop of dense woodland on the steep escarpment above the
Park. Although much altered externally during the 19th century, Wren's
mansion remains . . . .
former home of a branch of the Rothschild
banking family, now the
home to the
Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.
Students from Tring Park School
entertain the town at the Tring Christmas Festival
performed Abba, and WOW! What a performance!
Another notable to have had connections with Tring was the first President of the
United States, George Washington, whose great-great-grandfather, the Reverend
Lawrence Washington, lived in Tring and died in poverty there around 1654. The births and deaths of some of George Washington's forebears are
recorded in the church register.
State in Tring - 1792.
Highway robbery! - the Tring Mail.
you own a Bank of Tring £10 note?.......
Hertfordshire Genealogy Website carries an interesting account
of Tring as it was in 1947.
Lower High Street
The changing face of Tring ― these two Victorian gems in Station Road
soon to be demolished.
The 19th century brought significant changes to the town. The
Canal was opened in 1805 to be followed in 1838 by the arrival of
the London and Birmingham Railway, which brought Tring to within an hour's
journey time of London (once, that is, the traveller had reached Tring
Station, which lies some 2 miles from the town centre). Both canal and railway cross the Chiltern Hills at Tring in deep cuttings, the construction
of which were major engineering tasks for the time involving the
manual excavation of millions of tons of chalk and flint. The
at Wilstone, Tringford, Startops End, and Marsworth, built
to supply the canal with water as it crosses the summit at Tring, are
designated "Sites of Special Scientific Interest" (SSSIs
comprise Britain's very best wildlife and geological sites and are
protected by legislation).
construction of Tring Cutting, London and Birmingham Railway, 1837.
cutting, engineered by Robert Stephenson, is 2.5 miles long. It was constructed using "horse runs".
horse at the top of the cutting was harnessed to a large barrow by a length of rope over a
pulley. The barrow, when filled with debris, was hauled up a steep
plank-way by the horse and guided by a navvy. Any irregular movement of the horse could throw both man and barrow down the slope at risk
of life or limb. There were some 40 horse runs at Tring.
Tring Cutting was later widened and during the 1960s the line
― by now
the "West Coast Main Line" ― was electrified.
The Train now Departing.
The Bucks Advertiser
and Aylesbury News, Aug., 26th, 1848.
Another accident occurred on
the London and North Western Railway, at Tring, on Friday morning,
by which the life of one of the new corps of engine drivers has been
placed in imminent peril. The following are the
circumstances:—Thomas Sands, aged 28, formerly employed in Woolwich
Dockyard, but since the dispute between the London and North Western
Railway Company and their engine-drivers filling the place of one of
the latter, left Birmingham, at a quarter to nine o'clock on
Thursday night, in charge of a luggage train, which he brought on
without accident until it reached the Tring cutting. While
passing through this cutting, it appears that his engine became out
of order, it is believed owing to a deficiency in the supply of
water in the boiler. The unfortunate man attempted to rectify
the defect, but, probably from ignorance of the mechanism of the
engine, he was unable to do so, and a rush of steam taking place, it
is said Sands become frightened, and threw himself off the
tender-plate on to the embankment. The guard and stoker, who
were on the engine with him, retained their places, and in a few
minutes brought the train to a standstill. On returning down
the line they found Sands lying on the embankment perfectly
insensible. A superficial examination proved that the poor
fellow had sustained a severe fracture of the thigh, close to the
hip bone, as well as several extensive scalds about the body.
The impolicy of the Directors attempting to work their line with new
hands is apparent from these accidents and others that have happened
to the working stock of the Company.
Tring Cutting (ca. 1900): I
suspect the locomotive is an L.N.W.R. Precedent (aka "Jumbo")
2-4-0 on a down
express. See also
The Railway comes to Tring.
Industries that grew up
in Tring during the 19th Century included flour milling, brewing, silk
and lace-making, straw plaiting (for the Dunstable and Luton straw hat industry)
and we had a thriving cattle market — indeed, many of the community
were involved in some way with agriculture. Except for flour milling
and the re-emergence of
brewing, only traces of these industries now remain, most notably
the site of the former Cattle Market and the buildings of one of Tring's Breweries,
the Maltings and the Silk Mill, each of which have been put to other
MILL (ca. 1890) —
it provided much employment
in the town during the Victorian era—the building remains in commercial use.
Poet and Egyptologist
Gerald Massey was
born at Gamnel Wharf on the canal at
Tring in 1828, the son of a poor and illiterate canal boatman. On reaching
eight years of age, Massey was sent to work 12-hour days in the grim
conditions of Tring's silk mill.
"There's no dearth of kindness
In this world of ours;
Only in our blindness
We gather thorns for flowers."
In his early life Massey was active in the
Chartist movement, which attempted to improve the conditions of
working people including giving them the right to vote at elections.
Today, he is probably best known for his books dealing with the
meaning of ancient Egyptian mythology and its influence in shaping
later western religions.
From the Bucks Advertiser and
Apr. 17th., 1847.
At the petty session, at Tring, on
Thursday last, George Norman and Joseph Copcutt, two lads, about 16
years of age, were charged with running away and leaving their
employment at the silk mills at Tring. Proof of the offence being
given, and it further appearing that this was not the first time
they had been guilty of the same offence, they were committed to
Hertford gaol, for one month's hard labour.
Feb. 27th, 1847.
At the Herts Adjourned
Quarter Session, last week, Thomas Wilkins, a miserable looking boy,
aged sixteen, pleaded guilty to a charge of stealing two loaves of
bread, the property of James Hanshaw, at Tring. Sentenced to be
imprisoned for one month, one week in solitary confinement.
GASLIGHT COMES TO
On Wednesday last, the town of Tring
was all in a bustle, in consequence of that being the night which
was fixed upon by Mr. T Atkins, of Oxford, the contractor, to light
the gas for the first time. Great preparations were made to
celebrate the event, and an immense concourse of people was present.
The men who had been employed at the works were sumptuously regaled
with a supper, at the Green Man Inn. The preparation on the
occasion reflects great credit on Mrs. Philby, the worthy landlady.
Mr. Atkins presided at the head of the table, and was ably supported
by Mr. Andrews as the vice chairman. Ample Justice being done to so
good a spread, Mr. Atkins reminded the company, about 40 in number,
that there were great crowds outside and that something must be done
to amuse them. The whole then turned out and headed by a band
of music paraded the town, halting before the residence of Mr. W.
Brown, the chairman of the board of directors, and also before the
residence of T. Butcher, Esq., banker, and several others, playing
favourite airs and marches on the road. The whole returned to
the Green Man Inn, in front of which simple preparation was made for
fireworks, which on the signal being given (a gun fired) were let
off. Here the concourse of people was immense, and for those
who are fond of such sights we may confidently state that they were
satisfied, for seldom if ever have we seen so good an exhibition of
fireworks in a country place. This over, the people began to
dispense, but many remained for some time gazing intently on a large
star which was fixed in front of the Green Man, and splendidly
illuminated with gas. On enquiry we were informed that the
price of gas here at the commencement will be somewhat about 8s. or
8s. 4d. per thousand, with a discount off to large consumers. The
opinion of the board is that a large consumption and not high prince
is the most remunerative.
4.1 litre Railton
Light Tourer, 1935.
The Spirit of Tring concert.
Who would have thought that such a chilly September evening could
turn into such a fantastic musical event!
The existing town centre owes much of its
character to the Rothschild family who in 1872 acquired Tring Park
and its mansion. With the help of local architect William Huckvale, banker and statesman Nathaniel (later 1st Baron Rothschild
of Tring) set about a radical transformation, rebuilding the farms and
building new cottages in the town to replace decaying property. The
old Market House outside the church was demolished to create a public
open space and a new Market House
erected by public subscription to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond
Jubilee. Among Huckvale's other commissions was the estate office,
the Victoria Hall,
and Crown Hotel, and the
Zoological Museum, built to house Lord Rothschild's eccentric
elder son Walter's immense zoological collection. A trip to the Walter
Rothschild Zoological Museum is a must for all visitors to Tring.
Some of Tring's
architect William Huckvale
. . . .
Cottages," a row of almshouses adjacent to Huckvale's
attractive five-sided private residence was one
of Tring Mansion's gatehouses . . . . and in the days
cars and wheelie
bins became standards feature in the street scene . . . .
Photograph: Wendy Austin collection.
The Rose and
Crown Hotel (difficult to miss) . . . .
. . . . has existed on its present site since the 16th century.
From the middle of the 17th to the middle of the 19th Century it
housed the Excise Office and was also at some time host to the
Inland Revenue. One 19th Century landlord, Timothy Norwood,
who was also an excise man, brewed his own beer; indeed, beer was
brewed on the premises until the 1860s. The Inn also did
service as a railway booking office for the London and North Western
Railway Company and even after the coming of the railway, it
continued to be a busy and important coaching inn. The
original building, which was Tudor with 18th Century additions, was
demolished in 1905 when it was bought
and rebuilt by Lord Rothschild, mainly for guests of the family, to
a design by William Huckvale.
(Lionel) Walter Rothschild, 2nd Lord Rothschild
(1868 - 1937)
. . . .
. . . . worked for the
banking family firm of N. M. Rothschild and Sons, although his
greatest passion was zoology, particularly the collecting and taxonomy
of birds and butterflies. He participated in, and funded, expeditions
across the world to gather specimens, and wrote numerous scientific
papers. He established his own private zoological museum in Tring,
which became one of the world's largest natural history collections.
He opened the Museum to the public in 1892 and in 1936 gifted it to
the Trustees of the British Museum. Admission is free and it's
well worth a visit (top of Akeman Street).
Zoological Museum now forms part of the
Natural History Museum.
This tiger doesn't bite! A notable eccentric, the animals that Walter
Rothschild let roam his estate
included zebra, a tame wolf, rheas, marabou stork, a dingo, kangaroos,
kiwis, cassowaries and giant tortoises. A notable achievement was to
train a team of zebras to pull his carriage.
Following World Way II, much residential housing was developed around
the old town. New schools were opened and in 1975 the Tring section of
the A41 dual
carriageway was built, alas cutting across beautiful Tring Park. The
new expressway has since been extended to link us directly to the M25
to the South, and Aylesbury to the North.
Modern Tring is now
largely residential with many of the population commuting to London to
work. We do have some industry including
flour milling and
brewing, and the Tring Industrial Estate has recently been
developed on the North-Western boundary of the town. The fortnightly
held since 1832, continues to attract many visitors including BBC
television's popular antique auction shows.
The Market House, which houses
council chamber and offices, was built by public
subscription to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and
opened in 1901.
Its timber framing, steep pitched roof and ornate chimneys
(out of view) proclaim it to be another of William Huckvale's tudoresque creations, and a nice centre-piece for
the Town. The ground floor, now occupied by a shop, was
Formerly the Rothschild estate office,
and below close-ups of some of Huckvale's trade-marks . . . .
The Victoria Cross
the highest award for gallantry that a British and Commonwealth
serviceman can achieve.
memorial to Tring servicemen who fell during the Great War stands
in the High Street in front of the Parish Church.
One of the names
listed is that of Edward Barber, VC. Edward was born in Tring in 1894,
the son of William and Sarah Ann Barber of Miswell Lane. During
the Great War he served in the Grenadier Guards in France.
Edward Barber, VC.
On 12th March
1915 at the battle of Neuve Chapelle, Private Barber ran in front of
the grenade company to which he belonged and threw bombs on the enemy
with such effect that a large number immediately surrendered. When the
grenade party reached Private Barber they found him alone and
unsupported, with the enemy surrendering all about him. Edward was
killed later that day by a sniper. His name appears on the
Touret Memorial in the company of many of his comrades who also
have no known grave. Edward's Victoria Cross is on public display at
The Guards Regimental Headquarters in London.
Just up the road from Tring, behind Saint Bartholomew's Church at
Wigginton, lie the twin graves of James Osborne and his wife Rhoda.
James, a private in the Northamptonshire Regiment, won his Victoria
Cross on 22nd February 1881 at Wesselstroom (also called Wakkerstroom), South Africa, during the
First Boer War.
James Osborn, VC., and John Mayes.
On 17th December 1880, the British garrison in
Wakkerstroom (C Company of the 94th Regiment) were relieved by a
larger component of 120 men of the 58th Regiment under Captain H. M.
Saunders together with about 45 volunteers from among the
townspeople. Most of the troops were housed in a mud-walled
“fort” built some 1.5 km north of the town, the others being
stationed in the courthouse and the Dutch Reformed Church, which had
been modified with loopholes to enable rifle fire and had been
surrounded by a deep ditch. An old naval howitzer was placed
in front of the church on the body of a water cart.
The Boers under Commandant van Staden threw a cordon around
the town and there were many exchanges of fire.
The British made occasional sorties to ‘recover’ cattle and horses
that had been ‘captured’ by the Boers. During one such sortie,
on 22nd February, 1881, Private James Osborne, then aged 23, rode
out under heavy fire to rescue a comrade, Private Mayes, who had
been wounded. Osborne was awarded the Victoria Cross for his
valour, his VC
being published in the London Gazette in March 1882. James
died at Tring in 1928.
MILITARY FUNERAL AT TRING
ARMISTICE DAY, 2010
Armistice Day, 2010, also marked the funeral of Corporal David
Barnsdale of 33 Engineer Regiment.
David, who was from Tring and a former pupil at Tring
School, was 24 years old and on his second tour of duty in
Afghanistan. He lost his life while clearing improvised
explosive devices in the area east of Gereshk. His
colleagues described David as "a hugely popular guy, a
fantastic son, grandson, brother, boyfriend and friend who
will be sorely missed". He leaves his parents Wendy and
Stephen, his sister Vanessa and his girlfriend Helen.
A very large crowd assembled in Tring to witness David's funeral at
the Parish Church.
St Peter & St Paul Church, Tring.
Note on the Tring Market Charter.
all the king's bailiffs and ministers and other lieges
throughout the realm not to distrain the men and tenants of
the archbishop of Canterbury of his manor of Tring for
payment of toll on their goods and wares, as that manor is
of the ancient demesne of the crown and they and their
ancestors have been quit of such payments since time beyond
memory; and they are being unlawfully distrained to make
such payments at various places."
From: 'Market Privileges
1381-1385', Borough Market Privileges: The hinterland of
medieval London, c.1400 (2006).