The schedule for Dundale Cottage and Land was £1,500.00. The slightly curious, separated ‘large Garden Room’ may be explained by the local rumours of important figures (perhaps from the London aristocracy and royalty who frequented Tring Park at that time) using it for clandestine meetings, where they were provisioned from Tring Park house.
It has been noted that Nathaniel Rothschild (Natty) assembled a fine worldwide collection of conifers at Tring, some planted at Dundale.
The Second World War
The Home Guard was active in Tring in the early years of the war. Noting that the Icknield Way was a major route, a number of young men constructed large, circular concrete road blocks with iron pipes through the centre. These were positioned within the wood, adjacent to their defence post, behind the chestnut paling boundary. The plan was that if the enemy approached in light tanks, the Home Guard would roll the blocks along the ground into the middle of the road, and attack the enemy.
In about 1950 the land was bought by Joseph Eggleton, a local man who loved nature and the song of birds. He called it his wildlife garden. He left the area as it was for his own private enjoyment, and that is how an area that had been carefully managed with tree plantings, ornamental shrubs and a garden, left unmanaged for decades, became a secondary wood.
The 21st Century
The site was identified and adopted as a Wildlife Site in Dacorum’s Local Plan, a local designation which triggers protection policies, and a Tree Preservation Order covers the whole site.
In 2001, it was bought by a development company which carried out an ecological survey, and plans were put forward for development of a relatively small section of the land, with the remainder being given to the local authority as a wildlife site. This was accepted, with restoration of the lake and some basic management of the wood, plus an endowment for its continued care. The eastern section is fenced off from the public.
Current woodland management means that trees which are culled, or die, are lefl in situ to decay and provide a rich habitat. Among the wildlife were signs of muntjac deer, and an abundance of grey squirrels. It may be possible that the Edible Dormouse (the common name for the Glis Glis) was responsible for damage to the swamp cypresses. A number of badger setts were noted, and bats were known to use the site for foraging. The ivy clinging abundantly to the trees provides an especially good micro-climate for bats. Twenty-seven species of birds were recorded during the breeding bird surveys, with over 50 species recorded at the site over a period. A good number of common frog, common toad and smooth newt were found.
Considerable work has been carried out on the site during and since the development. There is a path around the lake and public access to the area is from Nathaniel Walk and the Icknield Way. The lake still has large fish in it, sometimes visible. The trees especially worth noting are the fine Swamp Cypresses alongside the lake, and the tall Black Pines which can be seen from Tring Park House.