Tring & District Local History & Museum Society

Registered Charity No.  1053276

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History of Tring Park Mansion

(From Doomesday to the Present)

The Manor of Tring is first mentioned in the Domesday Book where it is referred to as "Treunge" and was owned by Eustace III, Count of Boulogne, a countryman of William the Conqueror. The Count's daughter Matilda of Boulogne inherited it from her father and went on to marry Stephen of Blois, a grandson of William the Conqueror. He 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 the Manor of Tring was presented 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 and remained in Royalist hands up to the reign of Charles I. In 1650 Charles I arranged to have the manor transferred to his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, only to have it confiscated by Parliamentary Forces during the English Civil War.

Sir Henry Guy

When Charles II was re-established as monarch in the English Restoration in 1660, he gave the house to his Groom of the Bedchamber, Sir Henry Guy in 1680. Guy became Secretary to the Treasury and it was widely believed that he used this position to subsidise the construction of a new manor house to a design by Sir Christopher Wren. Guy was sent to the Tower of London soon after William and Mary acceded to the throne in the Glorious Revolution in 1688 on account of his misappropriation of Treasury funds.

Sir William Gore

Tring Park was sold in 1705 to Sir William Gore, Lord Mayor of London during the reign of Queen Anne. After only two years at Tring Sir William died and his son Charles inherited the estate. It was Charles Gore who was responsible for diverting the main Aylesbury to Berkhamsted road from its existing course through the park – which took it straight past the front door of the mansion – to its present route, following considerably flatter terrain further north along the course of what has now become Tring High Street.

Sir Drummond Smith

The property passed through two further generations of the Gore family before being sold to Sir Drummond Smith, a London banker, in 1786. He made extensive changes both to the park and the house, which until that time had remained unaltered from Wren’s original design.

The contours of the parklands were smoothed and flattened to present a more naturalistic outlook in keeping with the style of Capability Brown that was in vogue at the time and the interior of the house was extensively remodelled along the entire south range of reception rooms with the exception of the library, which retained its seventeenth century ceiling. The drawing room and sitting rooms were given moulded and carved plaster ceilings in the rococo style, complete with cherubs and garlands.

William Kay

Sir Drummond Smith died in 1823 without an heir and the estate was sold to William Kay, a Manchester textile magnate for the sum of £90,000. Two years later, Kay’s brother built the silk-throwing mill in Brook Street, providing employment for over six hundred people. William Kay’s son inherited the house in 1838 and it was from this time that Nathan Mayer Rothschild began renting it as a summer home.

The Rothschilds

When the Kays decided to sell in 1872, Baron Lionel de Rothschild bought Tring Park and its 3,643 acres (14.74 km2), which also included the manors of Miswell, Hastoe, Dunsley and Willstone for £230,000 – this equates to about £8,000,000 in today’s money. Lionel gave the property to his son, Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild as a belated wedding gift. The location was very convenient since