Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum
Given to the nation by Walter Rothschild, upon his death, the Tring Natural History Museum holds one of the most impressive private collections in the UK.
Entrance to the museum if free, although there are sometimes small charges made for specialised events that are held frequently, including many children's activities - some pre-bookable and some "drop-in". Look onthe museums website for up to date info.
There is a museum shop, a cafe (the zebra cafe) and a troup of very helpful, friendly and informative staff.
The museums holds the worlds largest and most comprehensive ornithological collection (to do with birds), including Darwin's finches (that he returned from the Galapagus Islands with). The collection is not on public display but I believe, by pre-arranged appointment, it is possible to visit this department.
- Family Travel
- Museum Visits
Natural History Museum
Tring is the home of an outpost of London's Natural History Museum. It was the private collection of the zoologist and collector, Walter Rothschild, who lived at Tring Park. Although born into the famous banking family, Rothschild decided at a very early age that what he wanted to do with his life was to make a museum. His father gave him some land on the outskirts of Tring Park for his 21st birthday, and this was where he housed his growing collection.
In 1937, the Rothschild family donated the collection to the nation. Since the 1970s it has also housed the Natural History Museum's bird research collection.
I first came here on a school trip in the 1970s, and was interested to return recently to see what had changed. In some ways, not a lot. It is essentially a traditional, Victorian Museum, with static exhibits of stuffed animals, crustaceans, and cases full of insects. There is not a lot of interactivity and multimedia, but that doesn't mean it is boring. I remember that on my first visit, aged 6, I was fascinated by a nest of tiny harvest mice. This time, I visited the recently redesigned gallery 6 on the top floor and was fascinated by the skeleton of a Moa (a giant flightless bird native to New Zealand, that was extinct by the Middle Ages.)
The museum is open Monday - Saturday 10.00 to 5.00 and Sundays 2.00 to 5.00. Admission is free.
There is a small café and free car parking on site, though the car park can get full at busy times. There are other (paid) car parks within walking distance.
- Family Travel
- School Holidays
The resevoirs are situated in the Tring gap in the Chilterns. Tring is at the summit level of the Grand Union Canal. The four reservoirs at Wilstone, Tringford, Startops End and Marsworth supply water for the canal. The resevoirs were constructed in the early 1800's, became a national nature reserve in 1955 and have been given status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Along the resevoirs and the canals there are paths which are great for both walking and cycling - you'll even stumble across the odd pub :)
Birds and wildlife a plenty.
- Hiking and Walking
- Family Travel
1066 is the year we can date this parkland to. It used to be owned (as did most of Tring, it would seem) to Lord Rothschild.
Nowdays you can see cow and occasionally sheep, wandering over the parkland. Back in the days of Lord Rothschild you would have seen animals more to his exotic taste,,, wallabies,,,, rheas,,,,
Actually, in 1902, the glis glis (more commonly kown as the edible dormouse) were introduced by Walter ROthschild, into the park.... and they have lived there happily ever after, ever since,,, they are a protected species and have been known to venture into honmes and chew electrical wires!
In the winter months, the steep hills in the park turn into Tring Alps and people can be found with tobboggans and skis.
Once a chalk quarry, College Lake is now a wonderfull restored sanctuary for wildlife. More than 1000 species of wildlife can be found here and it realy is beautiful,,, in all seasons. Apparently it was one of the quarries drivers that had the vision and made it become a reality. It is a truly wonderful place.
There are bird hides scattered for the more "twitchy"
There is a good car park and a wonderfully new and modern visitors centre which is a hub of information complete with friendly rangers, shop and cafe.
- Family Travel
The windmill is owned by the National Trust. It is a very early windmill. The date on it says 1895. It is believed to be the oldest post windmill in the UK.
There is a very small (tiny) car park (free).
You can walk down the field to the windmill at any time but the interior is only open on Sundays June, July & August.
Admission is £2 per adult.
Church of St Peter & St Paul
Although there are few traces left today, it is thought that a church has stood on the present site since Norman times. There is some evidence of Norman stone cutting techniques in some of the stones which make up the walls of the Chancel. The Church has been much rebuilt and restored. In the 14th century, a tower was added and the body of the building enlarged. The building we see today is mainly 15th century and there were further extensive renovations between 1861 and 1882. The walls are constructed of rough flints and Totternhoe stone. The tower has walls five feet thick and is topped by a turret in the south-east corner and a so-called "Hertfordshire spike".
Inside the Church there are several interesting features one of which is the 14 stone corbels in the arches of the nave. They are cut into the shapes of animals and fantastic creatures. One, for example, resembles a monster with the head and body of woman, but with clawed feet and the wings of a dragon. Other features of note are glass by Kempe and the Medieval tiles which are now in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. These tiles are decorated with pictures and are thought to have formed a frieze round the walls of the Chancel. There are now eight bells in the tower. The clock, which was installed in 1882 to replace an earlier clock, was made by Gillett and Bland and chimes every quarter hour.
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
The Market House looks old but was actually built in 1900 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It was originally open at street level, mainly for trade in straw plait. Part of it houses the town's Tourist Information Office.
Tring Brewery was run by John Brown and his family from 1826 and 1897. However, the Tring Brewery Company was founded in 1992 and after a ‘brewing drought’ of over fifty years and is today located in Akeman Street.
Buildings of Tring
Most of the buildings in Tring look old in style but were actually built at the turn of the 20th century. They were built by the Rothschild's who moved to Tring in 1872. They liked the town and developed it with new buildings to replace older ones. These included the Rose & Crown Hotel, Counting House and Market House.
Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum
This is the town’s biggest and most important tourist destination. Now known as the Natural History Museum at Tring, this fascinating museum was once the private museum of Lionel Walter, 2nd Baron Rothschild, and is located in the grounds of the former Rothschild family home of Tring Park. The building was constructed in 1889 specifically to house his collection of mounted specimens (or stuffed animals to you and me) and first opened to the public in 1892.
The first gallery contains birds, large carnivores and primates, the second is used to show temporary exhibits, the third Crocodiles, Crustaceans, fish, insects, large mammals and marine invertebrates, the fourth accommodates Rhinoceroses, Tapirs, wild ass and Zebras, the fifth holds Antelope, cattle, deer, goats, hippopotamuses, marine mammals, pigs and sheep finally the sixth gallery contains Amphibians, bats, British Mammals, domestic dogs, flightless birds, reptiles and small mammals. More photos can be found in my travelogues.
Open: 10am-5pm Mon-Sat, 2-5pm Sun. Admission: Free.
- Museum Visits
At the corner of Akeman Street and Park Road, opposite the zoological museum, these attractive almshouses were built in 1893 to house retired workers from the Rothschild Estate. They are typical of the estate style devised by the architect, William Huckvale (1848-1936).
This historic park dates back to at least Norman times and probably long before. Henry Guy commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to build the Manor House in 1682 and in the early 18th century areas of the park and surrounding woodlands were tamed and sculptured into formal landscaped gardens.
The house passed through various hands until it was rented by Nathan Mayer Rothschild in the 1830s. It was purchased by Baron Lionel de Rothschild for £230,000 in May 1872, with 4,000 acres (16 km²), to serve as his principal country residence. Rothschild extended the house significantly to occupy his guests. George Devey is believed to have worked on the "improvements" at Tring Park between 1874 and 1878. The Rothschild family owned the house and park for more than a century before selling it in 1989. They used to graze animals such as zebras, wallabies and cassowaries, here, which they brought back from their overseas travels. There are 2 monuments in the park both reputedly designed by the eminent architect James Gibbs in the early 18th century - namely an obelisk and a Summerhouse. Today the park is home to more conventional grazing animals and is a very nice area for a stroll.
The Memorial Gardens offer an oasis of calm, they are beautifully laid out, containing lovely flower beds, huge trees, shrubs and a pretty pond.
The Counting House
The Counting House was built in 1937 in a mock-Tudor style on the site of an earlier ivy-covered house and today is home to a company of accountants.