A place in the landscape
Tring, first mentioned in the Domesday Book as ‘Treunge’, has a long history as a small, rural market town and much of its appeal as a place to live stems from its situation nestling beneath the Chiltern Hills, surrounded by countryside but within easy reach of major transport arteries. The M25 is less than 20 minutes away on the A41 dual carriageway; and London in the south and Milton Keynes and other northern destinations are accessible from Tring’s railway station. For those wanting more leisurely travel the Grand Union Canal also provides a route to either London or the north and for walkers the local area includes two national trails – the Ridgeway and the Thames Path – and numerous ancient routes such as the Icknield Way.
The Chilterns, an AONB
Tring is nestled in the Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This is one of a series of designated landscapes that together contribute over £16bn to the national economy. The set of special qualities needed for AONB designation includes the landscape, relative wildness, distinctive geology or habitats and cultural heritage and the Chilterns AONB includes a number of the globally scarce chalk streams which are home to some of the country’s most endangered species.
A treasured biodiversity
Access to green space is needed close to where people live and the benefits to both physical and mental wellbeing of being in green spaces are now well-known. Tring, bordered on its eastern edge by Green Belt agricultural land, is also close to a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs): Aldbury Nowers is a chalk grassland habitat, home to several species of butterfly; Oddy Hill and Tring Park is one of the most extensive areas of unimproved chalk downland and hosts a range of orchid species; Tring Reservoirs, on the site of ancient marshes, is an important breeding and overwintering site for many birds and is also significant for a number of invertebrates; Tring Woodlands is home to a rich, well-established flora and is a prime example of semi-natural beech woodland; and in the nearby Ashridge Commons and Woods many species of birds that are otherwise rare in Hertfordshire are known to breed. In November 2022 Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) published a ‘Mitigation Strategy’ to protect Ashridge Commons and Woods, which will mean that future housing developments within the 12.6-kilometre zone extending from this SSSI will have to pay a tariff for each new home to help fund the Strategic Access Management and Monitoring measures required over the next 80 years to protect the area.
A rich heritage
In addition to the natural features of Tring and its surrounding area, there are buildings that demonstrate the long history of the town and some of its significant connections. The Local History Museum is located in what was formerly the office of the Tring Livestock Market, built in 1893. Until the 1980s animals were brought into the town each week for sale but when the livestock market closed, Tring Market Auctions developed the site and its salerooms are now one of the largest auction venues of its type in the Home Counties and has appeared on television a number of times. Tring Park School for the Performing Arts (formerly The Arts Educational School, Tring) is located in the Mansion House, originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the 1680s and owned, between 1838 and 1945, by members of the Rothschild family. While this famous banking family lived in the town the second Baron Rothschild, Lionel Walter, set up a private museum and the Natural History Museum at Tring can still be visited at the junction of Akeman Street and Park Road. It houses an extensive collection of stuffed mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, and is a family-friendly venue for visitors of all ages. The site also houses a research wing of the Natural History Museum (NHM) which became the subject of international news in 2009 when a young music student broke into what is one of the world’s greatest repository of exotic birds and stole a suitcase full of feathers, with the aim of selling them for use in fishing flies.
Tring today (place, story, narrative)
Tring is not a sleepy, forgotten, out-of-the-way town; it is a vibrant community where the arts, sport and community are valued and enjoyed within the context of our rural setting. In addition to a programme of plays and musicals, Tring’s Court Theatre hosts an annual comedy event, the Tringe Festival, and since 2019 Tring has also been home to a very successful Book Festival, with events held at a number of venues in the town. Music also flourishes in the town, with Tring Choral Society concerts three times each year, an annual programme of chamber concerts organised by Tring Chamber Music, and a Music Partnership that encourages the sharing of the town’s musical skills, both amateur and professional, and the establishing of community music projects.
Tring has a thriving, recently rebuilt secondary school with a student body of around 1500, making it one of the largest in the county. There are two combined Infant and Junior Primary Schools and an additional Infant School and Junior School as well as pre-school provision throughout the town. The town is also well-served by sports facilities, which include running, cricket, squash, football, rugby and tennis clubs – and many more – as well as an indoor swimming pool located on the secondary school site. A member of the recent England Ladies Rugby World Cup runners-up team began her career playing in Tring at the age of five. The town also has a long history of religious worship, with six Christian churches in the town; they work actively together and a full-colour magazine with a wealth of community information, Comment, is published ten times a year and features articles by a range of contributors.
Many of Tring’s residents are active in supporting the wide range of activities that make this a great place to live and many are also increasingly engaged with the issues that threaten to alter the local natural surroundings, whether this is the global climate crisis or the possibility of large-scale development. We recognise that all the many positive characteristics that Tring offers as a rural town will make it attractive to new residents, but we are concerned that unless we have a framework for a sustainable future, those very characteristics will be at risk.