History of Tring

The market town of Tring lies at the edge of the Chiltern Hills where the ancient Icknield Way crosses the Roman Akeman Street. The Ridgeway National Trail also runs close by from its starting point at Ivinghoe Beacon.

The Manor of Tring is described in the Domesday survey of 1086. The Town received its charter from King Edward II in 1315. Tring has a close connection with the forebears of George Washington. John Washington, the son of the Reverend Lawrence Washington and Amphyllis Twigden, was born and brought up in Tring. in 1656 he left Tring to go on a trading voyage to Virginia but after a shipwreck on the Potomac River he remained in Virginia, married and started a family which resulted in the life of his great-grandson George Washington, first President of the USA. In 1682 Tring Manor House, designed by Christopher Wren, was built for Colonel Henry Guy, Groom of the Bedchamber to King Charles II. In the late 19th century the Manor became the home of a branch of the Rothschild family whose influence on the town was considerable.

The Grand Junction Canal, now the Grand Union, was begun in 1793 and a wharf opened at New Mill. Trade developed quickly and in 1823 the Silk Mill in Brook Street was constructed by William Kay. The town developed further with the construction of the railway in 1835 by the London and Birmingham Company. The engineer, George Stephenson devised a complex system of ramps and pulleys to enable the digging of the Tring cutting. On completion of the railway, Tring lay just one hour away from London.

Tring Park and the Rothschilds

In 1872 the banker and MP Lionel Rothschild bought Tring Park for his son Nathaniel.

“Natty”s influence on the town was far reaching: he was an enlightened landowner, providing new homes and a water supply for the town. He employed a local architect, William Huckvale to design new buildings for the estate – the characteristic old English style lodges and houses.

During his lifetime, the Mansion and the Park were substantially altered and guests at the Mansion included The Prince of Wales and the young Winston Churchill. Natty’s eldest son Lionel Walter born in 1868 was fascinated by the natural world and at an early age began a museum collection, which opened to the public in 1892. In addition to the the museum he kept exotic animals – kangaroos, zebra, cassowaries and giant tortoises in the park. In 1902 he introduced the glis-glis (edible dormouse) to the Park where they have become established.

In 1937, the year in which he died, Walter donated the Museum to the nation. The Mansion was later sold and became the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and the Park of 300 acres is now cared for by the Woodland Trust, providing valuable open space.

Post-war Tring

In the 1950s a plastics factory was opened and as Tring expanded the housing area, Grove Park was built. New schools opened and in 1975 the Tring section of the A41 dual carriageway was built cutting across Tring Park. This road now links with the M25 to the south-east. Modern Tring (population 13,000) is largely residential, but its industries include milling, egg-packing and electronics. The fortnightly auctions attract many visitors to the town centre.

More recently the Tring Industrial Estate has been developed on the north-western boundary of the town.

Tring Town Council and Dacorum Borough Council have worked to enhance the town centre with improvements to the High Street, the new look for the War Memorial and the remodelling of the Memorial Garden. The Millennium Wood is flourishing to the west of the town and Footpath 41 is being improved and landscaped on the eastern side of Tring.

The town is bordered by the Chiltern Hills which provide many fine routes for walkers and the Tring Reservoirs to the north of the town are an important wildlife site for birdwatchers and nature lovers. Tring continues to be a pleasant town to live and work in and attractive to visit.

Useful Links

Tring Local History Museum where you can also buy books and postcards.

Tring Rural History website

Friends of Tring Church Heritage

The Genealogy in Hertfordshire website has a page about Tring and references to further sources.