Tring & District Local History & Museum Society
Registered Charity No. 1053276
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A Short History of Tring
Tring is a small market town and civil parish in the Dacorum District of Hertfordshire, situated in a gap passing through the Chiltern Hills, 30 miles North West of London. It has a population of around 12,000 residents.
It is an ancient town - there is evidence of Prehistoric settlement with Iron Age Barrows and defensive embankments adjacent to the Ridgeway Path and also later with Saxon burials. The town straddles the Roman road called Akeman Street.
Tring has had a Parish Church for more than 700 years, but little, if anything, is left of the first building on the site, which probably predates the Norman Conquest. There are fragments of a 13th century window.
Tring Church c1850 by E C Bird of Tring
The “Tring Tiles”, now in the British Museum, were found in the church and are a very rare example of 14th century tiles depicting images from the “unofficial” life of Christ.
A section of the Tring Tiles
The Manor of Tring, described in the Domesday survey, was to be the dominant influence on the town for centuries. It was held by the Crown and a succession of religious houses, including the Abbey of Faversham which secured the all-important market charter in 1315. The manor was granted in 1679 to Henry Guy, Groom to the Bedchamber and Clerk of the Treasury to Charles II. Soon afterwards Colonel Guy built himself a mansion designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The mansion itself is now home to the celebrated Tring Park School for the performing arts.
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 banker and statesman Nathaniel, later the first Baron Rothschild, set about a radical transformation of Tring, rebuilding the farms and building new cottages to replace decaying properties in the town.
Tring is also home to the Tring Natural History Museum, built by Walter Rothschild. The wonderful galleries of this beautiful Victorian museum present everything from tiny dressed fleas to a smiling polar bear and a reconstructed dodo. The fascinating range of animals was collected by Lionel Walter Rothschild, a remarkable character, who kept an astonishing variety of live animals, including zebras and giant tortoises in the grounds around the Museum and in nearby Tring Park.
You might be surprised to learn that John Washington, great-grandfather of George, the first president of the USA was born and brought up in Tring.