A visit to Tring would not be complete without a meander along the High Street where you will find a wealth of independently run shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, each renowned for their warm Chilterns welcome. Many are family run businesses that have been long established in this historic market town, and typify the long history in local specialty food. Tring recently celebrated its 700th year as a market town in fact, with the Friday Charter market trading in the same place, just outside the Church.
What to see in Tring
Tring Natural History Museum – the wonderful galleries of this beautiful Victorian museum present everything from tiny dressed fleas to a smiling polar bear and domestic dogs. The fascinating range of animals was collected by Lionel Walter Rothschild, a remarkable character who kept an astonishing variety of live animals in the grounds around the Museum and in Tring Park. Lionel Walter was a familiar sight in Tring, riding around town in his zebra-drawn carriage. Enjoy the experience of coming nose-to-nose with some really impressive specimens in this much-loved museum and check the website to catch its special exhibitions and events.
The Memorial Garden, located at the lower east end of Tring's High street, was formed from a small town-side section of Lord Rothschild’s 300-acre Tring Park. His erstwhile water garden and arboretum were transferred to Tring Urban District Council in 1950 and after extensive renovation a Memorial Garden was opened in 1953 to pay tribute to local men who gave their lives in WWII. Plaques commemorating the fallen are mounted on the brick gate piers, which are topped with an iron arch to form a memorial gateway. Named as one of Hertfordshire’s secret gardens and awarded Green Flag status, the garden features a giant redwood, well-stocked fishpond with ornamental fountain, herbaceous borders and a spring bulb display. Only steps away from the busy high street, the garden offers an oasis of tranquility and quiet reflection for visitors to the town and for the local community.
With the second largest area of unimproved chalk grassland in the county, Tring Park is an important wildlife habitat. Covering an area of 264 acres, it contains a mosaic of habitats such as chalk grassland, scrub, mixed woodland and parkland, all landscaped by Charles Bridgeman in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The whole area collectively supports a diverse range of butterflies, birds and plants including; lady’s bedstraw, yellow rattle, saxifrage and salad burnet in summer. Lying to the south of Tring, a 10 minute walk from the High Street, the park includes a stretch of the Ridgeway National Trial which passes through a handsome avenue of lime trees knows as King Charles Ride. There are beautiful views of the town to be enjoyed from here and the mansion below is home to Tring Park School of the Performing Arts and its dower house is now Champneys Tring Park Health Resort.
First recorded in The Doomsday Book as a church and belfry in 1089, the lovely church of St Peter and Paul on the high street, would most likely have been a simple rectangular shape and all that remains now are some pieces of masonry incorporated in the east end of the south aisle. The surviving list of incumbents starts in 1214 with Nicholas de Evesham. According to Pevsner, the earliest surviving architecture is the 13th century lancet window in the north wall of the chancel, then the 14th century arch from the bell tower to the nave. It is probable the addition of the aisles and bell tower date from this time. Worth a visit, you will find a warm welcome.
Once the office of the Tring livestock market, the Local History Museum is run entirely by volunteers who know every inch of the town and surrounding countryside. A good place to start your Tring visit as it sets the scene from prehistoric to modern times, through the days of the Peasants Revolt, the coming of the canal and railway, the cottage industry of straw plaiting and the huge changes made by the fabulously wealthy Rothschild family. There is much for children to do, including an archaeological dig, jigsaws and dressing up. Remarkable Victorian photographs are shown alongside reproductions of the famous cartoon-style medieval tiles, the originals are housed in the British Museum. The museum is also the starting point for the Tring Heritage Trail which can be followed in map form or using a free smartphone App.
Enjoy the buzz of anticipation and buyers’ excitement in the Tring Market Auctions sale rooms. Fine Art & 20th Century Decorative Art Sales feature fine collections of furnishings, collectables and works of art, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Arts & Craft, 20th century designer furniture, studio art glass and pottery, abstract and collectable art. Tring Market Auctions’ renowned regular fortnightly sales of general antiques, collectables and household effects include over 2,000 lots throughout the year conducted in an entertaining atmosphere.
Tring Brewery has been supplying the town and indeed surrounding counties with award winning cask ales since 1992. A comprehensive range of styles offers everything from the rich, smooth, Tea Kettle Stout, to the refreshing, crisp and citrusy Drop Bar Pale Ale. Let’s not forget the sweet, strong, almost legendary Death or Glory, originally brewed by appointment to the Queens Royal Lancers or the brewery’s biggest seller, the unusually named Side Pocket for a Toad. The brewery’s on site shop offers a free sampling service and even a self-service sampling bar where customers can ‘try before they buy’. Draft beer, fresh from the cask is available to take away in quantities from 1 to 40 litres, alongside bottled beers, ciders, brewery merchandise and gifts. If you really love the beer you can even become a Tring Brewery “Golden Toad’ member. A range of brewery tours, run on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings offer greater insight into the history of Tring Brewery and how they annually brew around 1.8 million pints of beer. There is of course plenty of beer to sample!
Into the countryside
Tring Reservoirs: You can explore the waterways around the old market towns of Tring and Berkhamsted enjoying the serenity of the Grand Union Canal and Tring Reservoirs that provide an excellent aspect from which to appreciate the rolling chalk hills and quiet woodlands of the Chilterns. Whilst they are an engineering feat of significant historical importance the clear water attracts large numbers of breeding and migratory birds, meaning the waterways are now a valuable wildlife habitat. There is a selection of varying length walks which also incorporate some of the wonderful villages and hamlets along the waterways.
College Lake Nature Reserve is managed by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust. Tring's best kept secret, this former quarry lies on the outskirts of town and is now a tranquil haven for wildlife, complete with Visitor Centre, café, shop and trails around the reserve. College Lake is well-known for its fascinating geological history – mammoth remains were discovered here - and stunning summer backdrop of orchids and cornfield flowers. Take a stroll around the lake along accessible paths; easy walking with mobility vehicles are also available. Discover the bird hides along the way, your window to enjoying the spectacle of birds, butterflies and beautiful wildflowers. Don’t miss the Outlook Inn, a nature-lover’s den for families to explore, or the Wildlife Garden and Education Woods with paths that take you on adventures. The award-winning Visitor Centre is a lovely space to enjoy, with views across the lake and you could treat yourself to lunch or a cream-tea in the café. The gift-shop stocks plenty of binoculars for those wishing to have a closer view of the wildlife. Group and school visits are welcome. There is an annual event programme.
Whipsnade Zoo – 8 miles from Tring. Set on the slopes of the Chiltern Hills, the UK's biggest zoo is home to more than 2,500 animals, many of which are endangered in the wild. Whipsnade is noted for creating interactive and inspiring exhibits and popular daily events including keeper talks, animal feeds and demonstrations. You can drive through the 'Passage through Asia' area or take the free Safari bus which stops at all the main exhibits in the 600 acre site.
Ascott House – 14 miles from Tring. The most intimate and least formal of the former Rothschild homes, the black & white Tudor style house was used as a hunting box to complement the grander Rothschild house three miles away at Mentmore, before being enlarged to house part of the family collection and serve as a family home.
Pitstone Windmill, only four miles from Tring, is a rare and striking example of an early form of postmill, that dates back to around 1627. Although the exact date of construction is unknown, it is acknowledged to be one of the oldest post mills in Britain. Unlike similar mills in East Anglia, it was turned to face the wind on top of a huge wooden post using a tail pole instead of a fantail or shuttered sails. Pitstone Windmill served the local community for three centuries until a freak storm in 1902 caused extensive damage. Although the mill is no longer in use today, its machinery, including the wind shaft and the brake wheel are still intact, having been lovingly restored by a team of dedicated volunteers. The machinery shows how gravity combined with two types of stone (coarse Peak Stones and coated French Burr) were used to mill wheat into both animal feed and flour. Admission charges. Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays 14:30-17:30
Landscape plays a huge role in determining the form and function of buildings, not least windmills and watermills. The reasons they were built may be long go, but some mills still command the landscape, the location purposefully chosen...read further