THE HAMLET OF DUNSLEY
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The old road through Lower Dunsley looking south c.before 1896.
The Manor Brewery is on the extreme right.
 

THE MANOR OF DUNSLEY
by
Wendy Austin


The Domesday Book informs us that prior to 1066 when King Edward was on the throne a priest, Engelric, held the Manor of Tring, but by the time of the Domesday survey twenty years later, it had been granted to a Norman nobleman, Count Eustace, Earl of Boulogne. [1]  Like most manors in the country its value had declined due to the depredations of the Norman invasion; in Tring’s case from £25 to £20. [2]

The Domesday survey of 1086 informs us that Dunsley [3] had become a separate manor in the Tring hundred, when seven hides [4] had been granted to Count Robert of Mortain (half-brother of William I).  Various spellings of the name exist in old records – e.g. Danesiai or Danesley – probably derived from Dane Law [that part of England where the laws of the Danes held sway].  The value of the land was always 12d.  A small portion of this land (i.e. half a part of one third of a hide) was sub-let to a widow, and on it she kept one ox.  A further third was granted to ‘Mainou the Breton’.

Dunsley was annexed to the Manor of Pendley in the 15th century.  From then onwards its history becomes vague although its name lived on, for a 1719 survey of the old medieval field system showed both a Great and Little Dunsley Field.

Some old records state there was a manor house, possibly on or near the site of the present Dunsley Farm. [5]  At that time, the main highway from Berkhamsted to Aylesbury passed through the area of Lower Dunsley, resulting in a small community evolving together with some modest industrial concerns.


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NELL (Eleanor or Elinor) GWYNN


Mistress of King Charles II – was she ever in Tring?  Yes or no?


Nell Gwynn by Peter Lely c.1675


Local tradition has it that she was here either when she was pregnant by the king, or at the time typhus was raging in London, when Charles sent her to Tring under the protection of his finance minister, Henry Guy, to whom he had granted the Manor of Tring.  Some accounts say she was housed in a property commonly known as Elinors in the Lower Dunsley area.  What we do know is that the first Lord Rothschild tried very hard when he first acquired the Tring Park Estate to establish Nell actually did live in the town for a while, presumably to add to the historic interest of his newly-acquired property.  He employed the best researchers of the time but they were unable to say categorically that she was.


Nell Gwynn’s Monument, Tring Park


The obelisk in Tring Park known as ‘Nell Gwynn’s monument’ was erected a hundred years or so after Nell had departed this life.


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THE ROAD THROUGH LOWER DUNSLEY


The original line of the approach road to Tring, from both the easterly and westerly directions, as well as the actual route through the town, saw many changes over the centuries.  Consequently, it is confusing and difficult to follow, especially as some traces of the old sections of road have disappeared.

A glance at a modern-day Ordnance Survey map shows that the most direct route from Cow Roast to Tring is the line of the age-old livestock droving road to and from London – now the A42511 – until the former Rothschild gatehouse, London Lodge, is reached.  At this point the original road continued straight on, entering Tring Park and passing immediately to the south the Mansion.  On emerging from the Park it continued along Park Street and Park Road to form a junction with Aylesbury Road at the former Britannia public house.  The road then continued along its present route past Tring Cemetery and following a straight course to Aylesbury.


The Britannia at the junction of Park and Western Roads


The year 1711 saw a major change to this age-old route, one that meant greatly increased prosperity for the town until, arguably, the end of World War II, when the tremendous growth of road transport rendered the narrowness of the High Street inconvenient and unsafe for large volumes of traffic.

In 1702, the Tring Park estate was acquired by Sir William Gore, one-time Lord Mayor of London and wealthy banker.  On his death, the estate was inherited by his eldest son, William junior, who petitioned that the main road be moved from the south to the north side of his mansion, the story being that he disliked coaches and wagons rumbling past his dining room windows.  Given the influence of the gentry at that time, it was probably a mere formality that his application for the change was approved.  Tring Vestry Minutes record:


1710, 11th January. At the house of William Axtell, Rose & Crown, Tring, an inquisition was held relating to the enclosure by William Gore, esquire of Tring, of part of the highway from Berkhamsted to Aylesbury known as Pestle Ditch Way [now Park Road], which lies on the south part of his garden from Dunsley Lane to a place called Maidenhead [an old pub].  In substitution he will provide a road from Dunsley Lane across Tring Market Street [now Lower High Street] and New Lane to a place in his land called Gore Gap [now Langdon Street]
.


The inquisition was conducted before the Sheriff for Hertford, with seven esquires, three gentlemen, and eight commoners forming the jury.  The verdict was, unsurprisingly, that there would be no damage to the Queen or to others by the diversion of the highway for a distance of 92 perches (506 yards).

This new route of the main highway as it reached Tring from the Berkhamsted direction, still did not follow a line that would be recognisable today.  From the map below, it is possible to discern that at London Lodge it made its way to the south of Lower Dunsley – which was located near the site of today’s Dunsley Place, then a hamlet in its own right – where it passed between the houses, canvas factory and brewery to emerge opposite the Robin Hood public house.  From then on the route corresponded with the present High Street until the ‘Gore Gap’ was reached.  Here the road turned up Langdon Street, then along Pleasant Lane [now King Street] to join Park Road, and then down to the Aylesbury Road.


Andrews and Dury’s map of Tring, 1766 (Dunsley is spelled ‘Donlee’).
Shown in Red, the main road through Dunsley; Green, Tring High St; Blue, Akeman St.;
Purple, Langdon St. (the Gore Gap); Orange, Park Rd.


At some time during the early-1820s, at the instigation of the Sparrows Herne turnpike trust, [6] a new section of road was also built between London Lodge and Lower Dunsley, the work being undertaken by James Bull of Tring.  [7]  This necessitated some road widening, the demolition of dwellings and payment of compensation.  William Kay, then Lord of the Manor, was awarded £248.15.0d. compensation compared with the £4 17s.0d. to the four cottagers who were obliged to quit their homes.

 

From an OS map of 1879, showing the new route of the main road highlighted in red, and the
truncated remains of the former road through Dunsley in blue.


From the following entries in Tring Vestry Minutes and the Bucks Herald it seems that the remaining section of old road through Dunsley hamlet was not closed finally until 1883, a date that roughly corresponds to that when Lord Rothschild decided to incorporate the whole area into his private gardens.


“1883. The old road at a point on the south side of the High Street, adjoining the Manor Brewery, and the Canvas Factory, is to be closed.  This refers to Lower Dunsley.

“1883, 25th August – Notice has been issued notifying the intended closing in the usual way of the now useless road at the southern end of Tring . . . . “


Eventually all the buildings in the hamlet of Lower Dunsley were demolished, and those displaced by the stopping up of the old road and the landscaping of his lordship’s new gardens were found replacement housing. (It is likely that the cottagers affected by these changes were found improved accommodation, for it was always Rothschild’s policy to treat tenants or, in fact, any townsfolk unfairly.)


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INDUSTRY IN LOWER DUNSLEY –
CANVAS WEAVING


Canvas, a durable plain-woven cloth, was traditionally made from hemp (cannabis sativa) an undemanding plant with a long fibrous stem and six times as strong as cotton.  The fibres, from 3ft. to 15ft. in length, commonly called bast, grow on the outside of the woody interior of the plant’s stalk, and under the outermost part of the bark.

There does not appear to be a tradition of hemp growing in the Tring area, [8] and no one can say exactly why canvas weaving started as a small industry in various locations in the town.  Writing in the 1890s, Tring local historian Arthur Macdonald states that:


“The canvas industry is said to have been introduced [to Tring] by a colony of Flemings who settled here. Some of their names remain, as Delderfield or Delderfeldt (‘Darofel’), and Wilkins (‘Wilquin’)”.


Those Calvanists who migrated to England from the Continent to escape persecution on account of their faith brought with them many craft skills.  They were often master weavers or journeymen specializing in various branches of the textile industry, mainly silk, although some Huguenots practiced the craft of canvas sail-making in England long before then.  However, no firm records have been discovered of their descendants arriving in Tring.

The first documented evidence of canvas weaving in Tring comes from entries in the Militia Lists from the middle to the end of the 18th century, which record men working as rope-makers, as well as one flax man and one hemp dresser.  Pigot’s trade directories from 1825 to 1839 list four proprietors of weaving shops, and Arthur Macdonald describes the first of these as follows:


“Entering the town from the east, the first building on the left is the pretty pair of cottages [Lower Dunsley Cottages] built by Lord Rothschild on the site of an old canvas weaving shop, then owned and occupied by Mr John Burgess, and before him by Daniel and Harding Olney.  The Olneys were a family of some position in the town, being the principal canvas manufacturers and possessing several properties.  William Olney had weaving shops in Akeman St., which he converted into the Akeman Brewery.”


By ‘some position in the town’ Arthur Macdonald presumably refers to the Olney family’s high standing at the New Mill Baptist chapel, at a time when Non-Conformity was at its height.  Daniel Olney senior was Deacon at that church, and his brother, Thomas, also had a high profile in the Baptist movement.

John Burgess, advertising his trade as “canvas manufacturer of open canvas for ladies needlework, gunpowder canvas, cheese cloths etc.” carried on weaving in the premises at Dunsley until it was shut down in 1883.  It was demolished two years later, along with other nearby properties, to make way for the erection of the attractive Lower Dunsley Cottages (now Grade II Listed) opposite the Robin Hood pub.

An account in the Bucks Herald of 26th December 1885 states:


“At Dunsley, where formerly was a lot of houses and a canvas manufactory, with the residence of Mr Burgess, a great change has been effected by Lord Rothschild.

The whole valley has been filled up with earth brought from Albert Street and Western Road, where the foundation of a new General Baptist Chapel is being dug.  Instead of the familiar factory before-mentioned, a handsome and substantial house
[sic] meets the eye, on the top being an exalted vane and six or eight twisted chimneys in which Norris’s ornamental bricks are used.  This improvement has afforded employment to a large number of people.”


Four of the eight ‘twisted chimneys’ atop Dunsley Cottages.


As far as can be ascertained, the development above always comprised two separate cottages, so in his description the Bucks Herald’s reporter was in error.  In any case, it appears that during the 1880s substantial changes were being made to the general townscape of Tring, many of which remain and are familiar to us today.


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INDUSTRY IN LOWER DUNSLEY –
THE MANOR BREWERY


At sometime before the mid-1800s, Seabrook Liddington leased land from the Tring Park Estate on which he built the Manor Brewery and a maltings sited in New Mill.  The premises consisted of the brewery with a side entrance to an off-licence known as ‘The Hole in the Wall’ (said to be older than the brewery).  When Seabrook retired he built a new house at New Mill and continued his business of malting.  A highly respected member of the community, Seabrook became Tring’s oldest inhabitant, dying at the age of 94, having been born in Tring in 1808.

James Liddington, a distant relative and former landlord of The Victoria public house in Frogmore Street, took over the Manor Brewery.  He was succeeded by Mrs. Rebecca Liddington.


The approach to Tring from Station Road, c.before 1896 –
The Manor Brewery with chimney is dimly discernible on the left


In the Tring Park Estate auction sale particulars of 1872, the brewery was offered for sale freehold and comprised:


“a substantial brick building of three storeys, with a brick-built and slated four-bedroomed house, two parlours, two-stall stable, several piggeries, wash-house, office, and two adjoining cottages”.


The rental was £48 per annum.  When the Manor Brewery fell into disuse it, together with other premises in the Lower High Street including The Green Man public house, was finally demolished in 1896, and the high curved wall we know today was erected around what is now the area of the Memorial Garden.


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TRING PARK GARDENS –
THE ROTHSCHILDS


Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild,
1st Baron Rothschild (1840-1915)


Unlike many of his relatives, the first Lord Rothschild [9] was not a passionate gardener, and practical matters relating to farming and agriculture held far more appeal for him.

However, in the 1880s when Tring Park mansion was remodelled, substantial alterations to the gardens were also undertaken.  As the new landscape design matured, Nathaniel Rothschild did become interested and he became knowledgeable about the names and qualities of shrubs.  His wife is known not to have favoured too much formal planting and at the south front of the house, except for a few flowerbeds (sometimes displaying the Rothschild racing colours of blue and gold), the landscaping remained soft.  The lawn was extended and a new ha-ha constructed to allow an uninterrupted view to the wooded escarpment on the far side of the park.


Tring Park Mansion following the Rothschild alterations


The area known as ‘the pleasure gardens’ to the west and north of the house was extensively remodelled and replanted.  A description written at the time records that they featured a summer house and an Italian garden and fountain.  A sunken path, lined with flint, led to an under-pass which still survives.  This ran beneath the drive leading to the stables, and gave access to a winter tennis court; a topiary garden clipped into the shapes of tables, chairs, and chess pieces; a Dutch garden; an Elizabethan garden; and a number of other areas.

An account in the gardening press at the time says:


“Each of these little gardens is complete in itself; once entered, the whole comes under the eye in an instant, but nothing is seen of the gardens beyond, for each of these separate designs is encircled by an irregular bank, planted with rare Conifers and shrubs, faced with flowering plants, Lilies, and Roses, and in all cases with as many annual or perennial sweet-scented plants as possible”.


The account reads on to wax lyrical about all the chosen bedding, including purple Clematis, Begonias, Violas mixed with silver Pelargoniums, Cannas, Marguerites, white Nicotiana, and Sweet-peas.

That same year, a correspondent from The Gardeners’ Chronicle visited Tring Park, and in his article he comments with surprise on the modest entrance and approach to the estate.  But once beyond the stables area, matters obviously lived up to his expectation of a home appropriate for the richest man in the British Empire.  The following extracts give a good description of the gardens at that date:


“A broad new carriage drive leads to where a grand entrance to the house is evidently meditated, and on the right of this approach is a bank of evergreens.  It was planted only eighteen months since with large shrubs of Yew, Bay, Box, and Aucuba japonica . . . . Passing round the house you will find a lawn, much enlarged recently, and clipped about by a very unlevel park, beautifully planted with clumps of Limes, animated by deer and shorthorns, and enclosed by masses of encircling Beech woods on the high ground which bounds the view.

. . . . Among the proofs of outlay, as well as of excellent taste, are the numerous costly shrubs around the house, including the bushes of Golden Yews grown from cuttings, as well as the much rarer seedlings.  I dare say thousands have been expended in shrubs lately . . . . Numbers give only a mechanical idea of works of planting like those which Mr Hill (the head gardener) with his men and long hose has brought to such a successful issue; but it may please nurserymen, and make their mouths water, to repeat that 500 Golden Yews, costing a great sum, have been planted here, and 10,000 bulbs of Gladioli set in the shrubberies to enliven them. . . . . I can only say that it (the garden) is filled with costly “things”, and in standing before the largest Japanese specimen, which is many times repeated in smaller sizes, one cannot help counting the cost.  It is the beautiful
Retinospora obtusa nana aurea and is worth seven guineas.  The double Spanish Gorse is used as an edging of this grand clump of shrubs, and I observed several specimens of weeping Yew on stems one foot or more high, and then spreading horizontally. . . .

The kitchen gardens are on the roadside near the town, and will soon be entirely shut in by walls, and enlarged from three to six acres.  The glasshouses are numerous, and the management unsurpassed.  Five houses are devoted to Orchids, and two entirely to Carnations, one of them to the favourite
Malmaison.  The foliage plants, Crotons, Caladiums, Alocasias, Dracænas and others were superb, and the varieties of Begonia and Coleus looked charmingly bright.  I believe that a London firm decorates the London house so far as pot plants are concerned; but the cut flowers are sent from Tring, and two houses of Adiantum ceneatum are required for the growth of Fern foliage by the bushel.

There are five vineries where the Muscat of Alexandria Grapes, of five years’ growth, are as good as can be, and the adjoining Black Hamburgs too having this year the largest berries yet produced here.  In the Fig-house the first crop was just over, and the second coming in. . . .  The Orchard-house is simple and comparatively inexpensive.  It consists of 135 yards of wall, enclosed by glass, having hot-water pipes to keep the temperature above freezing, and making all the wall fruit – Apricots, Peaches, Pears, and Plums – perfectly secure.”

 
The article goes on at great length in the same vein, and also makes mention of ‘the cottage’, the home of the unmarried gardeners.  This was replaced in 1905 by The Bothy, a fine new building where the boys were well-cared for by a housekeeper. (The Bothy later became the premises of Williaam [sic] Cox, a firm manufacturing plastic sheeting, until finally demolished in the 1990s to make way for Tesco’s supermarket.)


Death duties and the effect of two devastating world wars had taken their toll, and by the time of Lord Rothschild’s grandson, matters had begun to change.  A description written by Bob Poland, recently appointed as Greenhouse Foreman at Tring Park, gives some idea of how things were.

 

The Bothy c.1910, now the site of a Tesco supermarket


Arriving at his new job one Saturday evening in November 1934, he was stunned when the head gardener called for him at The Bothy at
9 a.m. the next morning.  He was instructed to start cutting fresh flowers ready to be sent to the Rothschild houses in London and Cambridge.  On enquiring when they were wanted, he was told to leave them in water overnight, but to be up at 3 a.m. the following day “as the van calls at 6.20 a.m.” and only two men would be available to help.

Bob Poland’s new empire was larger than anything he had experienced before, and he describes the glasshouses with 18 miles of piping and boilers consuming 30 tons of coke each week, all shovelled by hand.  These glasshouses were not as they had been in their heyday, and Bob recounts they “were in an awful state with every known greenhouse pest - thrips, mealy bug, red spider, and millions of ants”.  In an attempt to rid the gardens of pests, he persuaded the head gardener to pay the men so much each for the tails of rats, mice, moles, and for Queen wasps.

Once the major problems had been dealt with, Bob came to enjoy his job for his duties were varied.  When the family was in residence, his responsibilities included supplying and arranging all the floral decorations in the house.  Busying himself in the flower room on the ground floor of the mansion, Bob provided the sumptuous arrangements that were changed twice a week, and those in the dining room once a day, or sometimes twice.  At the festive season a huge 30 ft. Christmas tree stood in the centre of the staircase well, and hundreds of flowering pot plants were used to decorate wherever space permitted.

Not much time or effort could be spared for gardening during WWII and the grounds of Tring Park became neglected and overgrown.  During the conflict the staff from the Rothschild bank in the City of London moved into the house, and the stables were used by the Home Guard, the ARP, and the Red Cross.  Shortly before the war, the 3rd Lord Rothschild had offered Tring Park house, grounds, park, and woodlands as a gift to the British Museum of Natural History.  The committee appointed to consider this did not accept it.  The mansion then became the Arts Educational School; part of the ‘pleasure gardens’ was later dedicated as the Memorial Garden; The Bothy was used to house engineering staff from the Royal Mint Refinery in Brook Street; and later the route of the A41 by-pass sliced through the park.  Like many similar estates all over the country, the golden days were over and nothing was ever the same again.

The remaining areas of the kitchen gardens fronting the main road were developed as two separate closes of modern houses, the one nearest the town named Dunsley Place, the original high walls having been preserved are now listed.  A back gate from Dunsley Place leads through the Memorial Garden making a pleasant short-cut into the centre of the town.


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DUNSLEY FARM


When the Rothschilds acquired the Tring Park Estate at auction in 1872, it included Dunsley Farm.  At an auction of the Estate in 1820, the farm then comprised 240 acres (part in Wigginton Parish).  Held by various tenants since, the present farmhouse building was erected in 1881, at a cost of £300.


Plaque on Dunsley farmhouse depicting a section of the Rothschild coat-of-arms
and motto – Industria, Integritas, Concordia


In 1919 the Hon. Charles Rothschild of Tring Park, anxious to help returning servicemen to settle on the land, sold 180 acres of Dunsley Farm to Herts County Council for use under the Government ‘Homes for Heroes’ scheme.  This included a 2-acre area of farmland in Cow Lane for lease as a small farm, and also an orchard where a wooden bungalow was erected.  Later, further acreage belonging to the farm was sold, providing 10 building plots in Station Road and Cow Lane.  Nowadays, the area immediately around the farmhouse includes a farm shop, a café, the operating premises of Tring Brewery, and a duck pond.



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TRING PARK - HEAD GARDENERS


For many years the Garden House, a pretty Regency house with Gothic-style windows, was the home of successive head gardeners on the Tring Park estate.  It enjoyed an open aspect and was not shielded from the London Road until much later, when high brick walls were built to enclose the entire kitchen garden.  During the early Victorian period the various occupants included William Brown, William Ivory, and James Smith, who also ran a seed merchant’s shop in the High Street.  The privilege of living in the Garden House did not come easily as, on any large country estate, the head gardener was a figure of immense importance, whose knowledge of gardening matters, control of men, and organisational skills were expected to be all-embracing.  But in 1877 this did not prevent the Rothschild family appointing to the post a youthful 27-year old Gloucestershire man, Edwin Hill.


The garden House, Dunsley, c.1910


For the next 27 years Edwin re-organised and maintained the grounds around the Mansion.  As his experience grew, he became a well-respected member of his profession and was recognised as such by being elected to the committee of the Royal Horticultural Society.  He also laid out the gardens of the newly-built Louisa Cottages in Park Road, and those of the Isolation Hospital on the road to Little Tring.  He acted as Secretary of the Cottage Garden Society, an organisation close to Lady Rothschild’s heart, and was expected to arrange the athletic sports on show day.  Edwin died at the early age of 54 and his obituary appeared in the Gardeners’ Chronicle.


Louisa Cottages


Edwin was succeeded by his assistant of eight years, Arthur Dye, who came to Tring Park with the very best credentials.  Born in Norfolk, he started his career in the Royal Gardens at Sandringham, later moving to the Royal Lodge at Windsor.  When he arrived to take up his position at Tring, Arthur and his wife were tenants in one of the Louisa Cottages, but following Edwin Hill’s untimely death they moved to the Garden House within the walls of the kitchen garden.  Living in this splendid house had, at times, certain disadvantages.  On spring nights when the apple-blossom was in flower, a bell sometimes sounded a warning that the outside temperature had fallen below freezing point: Arthur then had to leave his warm bed to ensure that fires were lit in the orchards.  (Propped up in his bedroom was a shotgun, which he used to dispatch any unwelcome Glis Glis who trespassed into the loft space.)


Arthur Dye and family in the garden of the Garden House


His new responsibilities included the welfare of the unmarried gardeners living at The Bothy.  Liaison with other senior staff members such as the chef and butler were also part of the job.  One very special task each year was a visit to Buckingham Palace, bearing Lord Rothschild’s gift of flowers to decorate Queen Mary’s breakfast table.  Arthur remained head gardener for forty years, and on his retirement moved to a Rothschild property, Woodlands, in Chesham Road, Wigginton.  There he enjoyed 25 years tending his own large garden where he waged a constant war against Wigginton’s rabbit population.

In the summer months it was the practice for owners of large houses to open their gardens to the less privileged local folk of the district.  These events were greeted with mixed feelings by head gardeners.  Their natural pride and pleasure in compliments were weighed against possible hazards to their precious plants.  At Tring Park during the annual Agricultural and Flower Shows, ‘Freedom of the Park Day’ meant all could wander around the grounds and gardens, but some very necessary preparatory work had to be done.  The park was home to a variety of exotic creatures belonging to Walter, eccentric zoologist son of Lord Rothschild.  Throughout the year kangaroos, emus, and other animals roamed freely, but of course had to be kept under control on the great day.  Beforehand, an army of gardeners’ boys were deployed to clean up the park, in a thoughtful attempt to preserve the Sunday-best boots and shoes of the visitors.
 

Freedom of the Park Day, c.1910

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TRING MEMORIAL GARDEN
(on the site of Lower Dunsley)

 

Tring Memorial Garden

The area covered by the present garden had been created in the 1890s when several properties in the Lower High Street were demolished.  These included Rose Cottage, once the home of a Tring solicitor, and the Green Man, an early-Victorian public house erected by the proprietor of Tring Brewery.  A large irregular-shaped lake was dug out and planted with different species of water-lily, and the whole surrounded by abundant picturesque planting.  The entire garden was hidden from view from the main road by a high brick wall and a thick screen of trees and shrubs.

In March 1947 a questionnaire was circulated in the town to canvass opinion about how best to honour Tring’s war dead.  The outcome was 107 votes for a sports centre, 67 for improvements to the Victoria Hall, and 180 for a public garden with a paddling pool.  Possibly the absence of a definite project led to a disappointing and rather shameful response to the accompanying appeal for funds.  The Council decided that the paltry sum collected of £20 6s.2d. could only finance the addition of names of the fallen to be added to the existing memorial in front of the parish church.

Disquiet over this outcome led Tring to wake up, and three months later a public meeting was held and a committee of twelve members elected to launch a firm appeal with the target of raising £5,000.  The stated objective of the scheme was to provide a fitting memorial (other than a monument) to those who had fallen in World War II, as well as a thanksgiving for those who had returned home safely.


The Green Man


Considerable interest was taken in this new appeal fund, and a well-known Tring shopkeeper came up with a novel idea to start the ball rolling.  He suggested that businessmen should give £1 for every year they had been trading in the town.  On this basis, his own welcome contribution amounted to £25, and others soon followed his example.  The committee again invited suggestions as to the form the memorial should take.  Among the ideas put forward was a swimming pool, but the Council considered the running costs would be too great.

Eventually, and after much debate, it was decided to create a Garden of Remembrance in the old water garden of the Tring Park estate.  In the years after World War II the lake and its surroundings presented a sorry sight.  For years, the area had suffered almost total neglect and had become overgrown, dark, and depressing.  Any idea that the water garden could revert to its former glory was clearly impossible, as it was realised that the number of gardeners required for its maintenance would never again be available in the modern world.  Instead it was thought that clearance of the area, resurfacing the lake bed, and some simple replanting would offer an acceptable and pleasing aspect as a public open space.
 

Even so, nothing happened quickly.  Three years passed before the legal process of transferring the site to Council ownership was settled, and thereafter work proceeded slowly.  It was another three years - in June 1953 - before the garden was formally opened, an event planned to coincide with the Coronation of Elizabeth II.  Over 200 people were present at the unveiling ceremony, the dedication service being conducted by the Reverend Lowdell, Vicar of Tring.

The garden was enjoyed for some years before it fell victim to mindless vandalism, but when Mrs Westron, widow of Tring nurseryman Frank Westron, died in 1971 she bequeathed £50 to be spent on the Memorial Garden.  The Council then decided to use this sum towards repairing the damage.

Today the lake (fed by natural springs rising in Tring Park) looks very different from how it was in the time of the Rothschilds.  All the vegetation surrounding the perimeter has been cleared, allowing an uninterrupted view of the magnificent Wellingtonia that towers over the northern end.  In recent years some alterations have taken place, following criticism that the approach to the gardens was dark and uninviting.

The Council then organised contractors to thin trees and shrubs bordering the entrance pathway, allowing more daylight to provide a welcoming aspect.  In 2001 the lake had to be drained and the fish evacuated when it was necessary to investigate the cause of serious water seepage.  A bad crack in the concrete base was discovered, repaired, and four carp returned to the water following their sojourn at a nearby fish farm.

Members of the Tring branch of the British Legion attended a reopening ceremony, and presented a plaque listing the names of those men from the town killed in World War II.  This is mounted on the brick gate-pillar at the entrance.  Later, in 2018 in a ceremony to commemorate the end of WWI, a second plaque was mounted on the other side of the gate to remember all those from the town who served in that conflict.

It is pleasing to record that Tring’s Memorial Garden is well used every day of the week and in most weathers, thus repaying the work of volunteers (Friends of Tring Memorial Garden) as well as the maintenance and planting services provided by Dacorum Council.  Folk of all ages enjoy this space, whether just sitting on a seat in the sunshine or, in the case of children, dashing round the footpaths on scooters.  Dog walkers are also in evidence, and most are considerate in clearing up the inevitable mess.  In recent years, small notice boards have been sited at intervals around the lake offering brief explanations of various aspects of the two wars, or commemorating individuals who fell.


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NOTES

 
1.    THE MANOR OF TRING:
Matilda, daughter of Count Eustace of Boulogne, inherited the manor from her father.  She later married Stephen of Blois, a grandson of William the Conqueror who later became King Stephen of England.  In 1148 King Stephen and Queen Matilda founded the Cluniac order of St Saviour at Faversham in Kent, and they presented the Manor of Tring to the abbey.  It was later exchanged for other properties with the Archbishop of Canterbury.  When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries during the 1530s, the manor was confiscated and became Crown property remaining in Royal hands until the reign of Charles I.  In 1650 Charles I arranged to have the manor transferred to his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, only for it to be confiscated by Parliamentary Forces during the English Civil War.  In 1660 the manor returned to royal ownership under Charles II who, in 1680, gave it to his finance minister Sir Henry Guy.  It is believed that Guy used his position to subsidise the construction of a new manor house – but not that existing today – to a design by Sir Christopher Wren.
 
2.    Domesday v
aluations present a problem - exactly what value were they?  Do they represent the manor’s capital value (what it might fetch at sale)?  Or are they annual rents paid to the lord by his tenants?  Or are they the total income including the sale of produce of the lord from his manor?  Or are they the tax levied on the lord of the manor?  It seems most likely that they were annual payments, probably the annual rents paid to the lord by his tenants.
 
3.    Tring once possessed four hamlets: Little Tring (the location of the Grand Union Canal pumping station); Dunsley, which bordered the Tring Park Estate; Hastoe, to the south; and Tring Grove, to the east. Little Tring and Hastoe survive as satellites of the town, while Dunsley and Tring Grove have been absorbed into it.

 
4.    Hide – a land-holding that was considered sufficient to support a family.
 
5.    In referring to the hamlet of Dunsley, Volume 2 of A History of the County of Hertford (1908) states that “The manor house has quite gone, and was replaced by a farmhouse about thirty years ago.”  The farmhouse referred to was built in 1881.
 
6.    The Sparrows Herne Turnpike Road from London to Aylesbury was an 18th-century English toll road. Its route was approximately that of the Edgware Road, then through Watford, Kings Langley, Apsley, the Boxmoor area of Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring to Aylesbury, much of which is now covered by the A4251.  North of Aylesbury it linked in with other turnpikes forming a route to Birmingham.

 
7.    In his notes on the Town’s history, former local historian Arthur MacDonald left a brief mention of James Bull.  Besides building the turnpike bypass around Dunsley, Bull superintended other of the Town’s road construction projects:


“Bank Alley [off Tring High Street] . . . . was formerly the emporium of Mr Bull, saddler, a leading man in the place and very wise in road making.  He superintended the formation of the cutting embankment at Beggar Bush Hill [now Tring Hill] on the Aylesbury Road, also the making of the new Station Road in 1838, when he and Mr William Brown were Highway Surveyors.  He held the post of Parish Constable at the same time, with great effect upon unruly railway navvies.”

 
8.    At New Ground on the A4251, a ‘Hemp Lane’ connects the main road to Wigginton village.
 
9.    Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild, Baron de Rothschild, GCVO, PC (8th November 1840–31st March 1915) was a British Jewish banker and politician from the wealthy international Rothschild family.  Rothschild worked as a partner in the London branch of the family bank, N M Rothschild & Sons, and became head of the bank after his father's death in 1879.  During his tenure, he also maintained its pre-eminent position in private venture finance and in issuing loans to the governments of the US, Russia and Austria.


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