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Compiled by Wendy Austin




Grove is an area on the eastern fringe of Tring which over the centuries has evolved from a tiny rural hamlet to the present-day extensive development of private properties. Its popularity is partially due to the proximity of the railway station and to the town’s by-pass which links to the M25.

At the time of Domesday, Tring Grove was never a Manor in its own right, as were Dunsley, Pendley, Bunstrux and several others north of the town. In fact very little is known of its early history, and the mansion house in the centre of the then open parkland was not built until the 18th century.

Since then a great deal has happened in the area, especially relating to farming matters, interesting building work, and expansion of the population generally. This booklet outlines what I have been able to discover about the history of Tring Grove but, as with all modern research, some facts have been gleaned from the internet, so I am aware that the information is rather patchy. Other sources are referred to in footnotes, and information is also included from the British Newspaper Archives, Census Returns, Trade Directories and Parish Records.

My grateful thanks for information, copies of photographs, and editorial skills go to Tim Amsden, Lesley Baker, Michael Bass, Valerie Carr, Beryl Edwards, Sue Gordon, Suzanne Grey, the late Ron Kitchener, Philip Lawrence, Ian Petticrew, and Mary Whittel.


September 2021



1.    Origins

2.    The Eighteenth Century

3.    The Nineteenth Century

4.    The Twentieth Century

Other Titles



The word ‘grove’ simply means a group of mature trees, sometimes within a forest area and often associated, fancifully, with pagan sacred rights or nature worship.  There is no evidence to suggest that anything so exciting occurred at Tring.

Like most very small places, the origins of Tring Grove in the distant past are obscure.  Few archaeological discoveries have ever been unearthed, except mention was made that in 1763 workers on the Grove Estate dug up a skeleton and associated finds, including two ceramic vessels identified as Beaker burials (i.e. Bronze Age), as well as other grave goods – flint arrow heads, wrist-guards and a jet pulley-ring.  An account written up shortly after the find records that:

“Labourers employed in sinking a ditch found at seven feet depth a human skull, and proceeding with great caution in moving the soil, the rest of the skeleton of common size was found laid at its length with the legs and arms extended.” [1] ………. “within a mile and a half of the Grove are very considerable remains of earthworks.  In passing, Mr Seare is rumoured to have melted down a gold hoard from his land on the Bulbourne estate”.

It may be that some sort of settlement existed in Roman times, for according to The Viatores (a group of Roman road researchers working in the 1950s) part of the Roman Icknield Way in the Tring area might have passed near Marshcroft Lane and then crossed over what is now Grove Road.   No mention is made of Grove in the Domesday survey of 1086, although Tring, Pendley and Dunsley are each listed as separate manors.  At some point after Domesday was compiled, Bunstrux became another sub-manor of Tring, and as early as 1541 there is mention of land at Marsshe croft [sic] lying within this manor as well as Park Hill, part of one of Tring’s old common fields.

It seems that very few records exist of Grove during the Medieval or Tudor periods, the earliest mention being in the 17th century when several generations of a family named Dagnall [2] lived in the big house (a mansion in the centre of the Grove Park).  They appear to have been of some standing for a map of 1695 shows Grove in the possession of Richard Dagnall, described as a ‘Gent’, who was related to the Park’s subsequent owners, the Seares, by marriage.  An Archaeological Watching Brief was carried out in 2017 by Cotswold Archaeology prior to planning permission being granted for an extension to No.1 Grove Farm House, Marshcroft Lane.  Rather disappointingly nothing of significance was discovered, although the Report did note that “the projected line of the former Roman road between Tring and Dunstable passes through or close to the site” (i.e. No. 1 Grove Farm House) a view that corresponds to that of The Viatores previously referred to.

The Grove area (OS 1877) centred on the junction of
Grove Road and Marshcroft Lane.  Grove Park is at the bottom of the map.

The various properties at Grove

As the name ‘Grove’ features in several of the properties in the immediate area and to the area in general, it is sometimes difficult when consulting newspaper accounts and other records, to differentiate which house or farm is being referred to.  As with all local history research, details have to be puzzled out and may not always be completely accurate.  However, as far as can be ascertained, the following applies:

Two separate farms – Grove Park Farm (land on the Tring side and adjoining the big house) and Grove Farm (land in Marshcroft Lane extending to the canal) were occupied by tenant farmers.

Near the junction of Grove Road and the present Chiltern Way were an old house and farm buildings belonging to Grove Park Farm.  Adjoining Grove Farm in Marshcroft Lane stood various buildings including barns, two cottages, and a rick-yard.

No.66 Grove Road, Old Grove Farm, stands on the junction of Grove Road and Marshcroft Lane.

New Grove Farm House was sited on the north side of Marshcroft Lane (now two private dwellings).

The mansion house at Grove was demolished c.1820’s and the present No. 63, The Grove House, is an early-19th century property standing close to the site of the original mansion.  It is approached down a driveway from the west side of Grove Road.  Over the years maps of different dates show this property simply as The Grove.  Grove Place (map above) appears to have been a sizeable house on the south side of Marshcroft Lane, but other than that, very little is known about it.  It is shown on OS maps for 1877 to 1888, but not on that for 1922.

The whole Grove area was accessible from the town, for old maps show a footpath leading from Mortimer Hill to Grove Road (from bottom left of the map above).

The junction of Grove Road (left to right) and Marshcroft Lane.
Old Grove Farm on the left and Grove Farm House right of centre.

The first Tring Grove farmhouse

One of the oldest buildings in Tring, the original Tring Grove farmhouse on the corner of Marshcroft Lane, now named Old Grove Farm, is a Grade II listed property.  It was chosen by Historic England as one of the best examples in NW Hertfordshire of a crown-post house used as a domestic dwelling.  It is said to have been built around 1380 to 1480 with a late 17th century rear wing.  Many alterations were carried out at subsequent dates, including division into three cottages for occupation by farm labourers; it has now reverted to a single dwelling.



Grove Farm Cottages (now Old Grove Farm), shown c. early-1970s

In the Listings [3], it is described as being a late medieval cruck-framed house, aligned N-S with formerly an open hall, timber frame, brick nogged and roughcast, the front in yellow stock bricks and the rear wing encased in red brick.

Interior of Old Grove Farm showing a cruck frame.

This building served as the farmhouse for Tring Grove Farm up to about the end of the 19th century when a new and larger farmhouse was erected on the north side of Marshcroft Lane. In the 1920s it is known that it was occupied by the Halstead family until they emigrated to Canada in 1931.  During the following years, this property was modernised and tenanted by farm workers, and was later sold as a private house to a Mr Rutland, followed by a Mr Figg when further alterations were made [4].  The present owners have carried out further modernisation and created a beautiful garden fronting Grove Road, giving pleasure to passers-by during the summer months.


1. Archaeolgia, vol.iii, 1775.
2. Grove has a very tenuous connection with the American Washington family. John Dagnall was married to a sister of Amphyllis Washington, who lived in Tring in what is now Frogmore Street, and was the great-great-grandmother of the famous George Washington.
3. Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation) Act 1990.
4. Information from two Halstead daughters who visited in 1984.



The Seare Family

The history of Tring Grove becomes a little clearer in the 18th century when the estate was acquired by the Seare family, originally esquires to French knights who came to England in the 15th century.  Having settled and then acquired the nearby Manor of Marsworth De-la-Hay, they remained for over 250 years [1].

It is likely they purchased the Tring Grove estate from owners, the Dagnalls, who had lived at Grove for several generations, and to whom they were related by marriage. At some stage a new mansion house was erected, which in due course descended to John Seare. References to this property include a payment in 1764 to Nathaniel Richmond, a noted nurseryman of the time, for £31, a considerable sum [2].  And in 1767 we are told John Seare was exempt from his statutory duty of contributing to road repairs, providing “he maintains the New Road (presumably Grove Road) at his own expense” [3].  Three years later it is recorded in Tring Vestry Minutes that John Seare, together with other leading citizens, subscribed towards the town’s first ever fire engine, stating it to be “a thing of Public Utility and very necessary”.  In 1785 the two farms at Grove were advertised to let but at that time the acreage was considerably less than later on.

Map (extract) drawn by Andrews and Drury, 1766.

John Seare had married Mary Stevens in 1758, and died at his house in Grove in 1792 after a lingering illness.  A year later Mary had dealings with the Grand Junction Canal Company during the construction of this new waterway.  In the GJC Act of 1793 a clause records that:

“Pleasure Grounds not be taken, but whereas Mary Seare, widow, owns a certain plantation or pleasure ground with a piece of water thereon, called Bulbourne Head [4] in the parish of Tring, and consents to canal being made through same, canal to be carried through the said water on the west wide of the east arm thereof, first making a bank or dam between canal and south east arm, such bank to be same height as present banks of arm, so as to keep water in arm the same height.  Sluice to be put in south bank so that Mrs Seare can let down water from south arm to level of canal if desired.  No lock to be made within one mile either side of Bulbourne Head without owner’s consent.”

John Seare had left his lands in the Parishes of Marsworth, Tring and Puttenham to his wife, desiring that she should leave part of his estate to his nieces, one of whom was married to Edward Barker (see below).  Mary died in 1798 and in turn bequeathed her estates to Henrietta her unmarried daughter who, despite her name appearing on old maps as ‘Mrs’, (this was a courtesy title in the 18/19th centuries accorded to women owning property or land) and her brother.  Upon Henrietta’s death in 1807, the Seare name ceased, and from then on matters became very convoluted with cases in the Court of Chancery ensuing [5].  Eventually Grove House itself was devised to Edward Barker whose daughter had married into the Lake family of Aston Clinton [6], thus establishing a connection between the Seares and Lakes.  Sometime Consul at Tripoli, Edward Barker’s own estate was in Sussex and, accordingly, he let the house to the brother of Lady Dashwood of Halton.

Map drawn by Charles Smith, 1808.
(Modern spelling: Mefwell = Miswell:  Donlee = Dunsley)

It seems that Mary Seare’s house at Grove was a rather grand establishment (at the time of the Inclosure Act of 1797 it was valued at £25, a considerable amount) as immediately after her death, all the furniture and effects were advertised for auction in local papers.  Every item was carefully listed, from bedsteads with Indian damask hangings to dinner table napkins and wine.  Outside, all the livestock was sold too, including two black geldings (“remarkable quiet”), cows, heifers, pigs, hens, ducks, and “two beautiful peacocks”.  Also, a carriage (“the linings, wheels and every part in perfect good condition, nearly equal to new, with plated harness compleat”), carts, an “Irish car”, all farm and garden equipment, tools, summer seats (“made to turn upon spindles”), as well as a “pleasure boat” and fishing nets, used on Bulbourne Head [see map above, top right], in those days a sizable stretch of water lying within the boundary of the estate.  The advertisement ended by stating “The Grove-house and Farm to be lett and may be entered on immediately”.

Although not residing in Tring, Edward Barker appeared to be conscious of his civic duty as:

“With truly philanthropic and beneficent, having subscription amongst themselves, and which has been promoted by Sir Smith, Bart, Edward Barker, Esq., John Lee, Esq. and other proprietors of estates in Tring Parish amounting to the sum of £120, which has been laid out in purchase of beef of the best quality, and distributed to the poor and necessitous inhabitants of the town and its vicinity.” [7]

Edward Barker died in 1835 and, according to a notice (written by his family), “a most amiable and charitable man lamented by his family, his tenants and the poor”.

Robert Hill (‘The Learned Tailor’)

A notable resident of Grove at this time, albeit for a short while and from the other end of the social scale, was a self-educated farm boy who acquired some distinction by becoming a linguist and man of letters.  Born in 1699 at Miswell, then a hamlet of Tring, when his father died his mother married a tailor and moved to Buckingham, leaving Robert in the care of his grandmother who taught him to read, and arranged some brief schooling.  In 1710 the pair moved to Tring Grove where Robert became a farm boy.  However, his constitution proved too delicate for this work and he joined his mother in Buckingham where he was apprenticed as a tailor and stay-maker.

Here, he was given two books – a grammar and three-quarters of a dictionary.  These fired his imagination and created an obsessive desire to read and, as his master allowed him no leisure, he procured candles to study at night.  A few years later Buckingham was hit by an outbreak of smallpox and Robert returned to Tring Grove to tend sheep, where he is said to have sat all day under a hedge reading his limited library.  That was his last connection with Grove, as he returned to Buckingham, was married and widowed twice, became a schoolmaster, married again (unsatisfactorily), travelled the country as an itinerant mender of clothes and stays, and studied mathematics, Latin, French, Greek and Hebrew.

A book title by Joseph Spence, comparing
Robert Hill with a noted Florentine scholar.

A clergyman named Joseph Spence became so impressed with Robert that he gave him employment and encouraged him to write his own works.  A steady stream of literary output followed, all entirely unreadable today; as an example one title will suffice – Christianity the True Religion, an Essay in answer to the Blasphemy of the Deist.  Always in financial difficulties, his last years were sad culminating in a long final illness, but the extraordinary mental ability of this Tring farmer’s boy helped him to achieve general recognition. [8].


1. Magna Brittania, 1806.
2. The Parks and Gardens of West Hertfordshire by Tom Williamson (pub.2000).
3. Tring Vestry Minutes, 1767.
4. from Topography of Great Britain by George Alexander Cooke, pub. 1817 - “about two miles from Ivinghoe is a place called Bulbourne, belonging to John Seare, Esq. of Tring Grove.  Here is said to be the original source of the River Thames there are two springs, which divide within ten yards of each other …… Mr Seare has made a fine canal for a pleasure boat one mile in length.”
5. Reports of Cases in Chancery, vol. xvii, pub.1845
6. The Complete Peerage, Vol.5
7. Northampton Mercury, 16 January 1813
8. National Dictionary of Biography (Tring Parish Magazine, October 1906)



Grove House

It seems little maintenance had been carried out on Grove House, for in 1811 a surveyor from Luton, commissioned by Edward Barker, issued a damning report describing the ‘mansion’ as being very dilapidated and not lettable.  He [1] recommended it should be pulled down and the materials sold.  (One account says that they were later used to build Surrey Place, a courtyard of workers’ cottages in Akeman Street, Tring.)  When Grove House was eventually demolished is not recorded, and the facts are confusing, but it could be inferred that this happened before a mapping survey carried out in 1820 when the house is not shown; nor does it appear on any maps after that date.  A replacement for Grove House was built on a site more to the east (i.e. nearer to Grove Road), but exactly when this occurred is again uncertain, for in 1812 a house was being advertised as - “Mansion House, Tring Grove, to let for 12 years”, so it is difficult to say to which house the advertisement refers.

In the early 1840s the estate agent William Brown advertised a prestigious residence at Tring Grove Park, describing it as “situated between town and railway station, and affording a desirable summer retreat, being encircled by a pleasant park.  It also boasts a chaise house, stabling, a large walled garden, and a small quantity of meadow if desired.”

Grove Place

This property appears to have been roughly on the site of the old Pendley laundry and, as mentioned previously, on the OS map of 1922 it is no longer shown.

In February 1813, a sad little notice appeared in The Northampton Mercury announcing the death “at Grove Place, the only child of T. Kingham, gent. of Tring town”.  Thomas Kingham was an affluent farmer, property and land owner, his apparently substantial house being valued at the time of the Inclosure Act of 1797 at £24.17s.0d. (only 3s. less than the value of Grove House).  He lived there until his death in 1832, when an auction sale of his estates around Tring was held at the Rose & Crown, and his holdings in Marshcroft Lane alone included a farm homestead, cottages and 10 acres of rich pasture.  After the auction, The Bucks Gazette reported that “the freehold and copyhold estates of Mr. Kingham of Tring Grove realised much higher prices than property was ever known to have been sold for by public auction in that neighbourhood, every lot being disposed of.”

Acquisition of Grove estate by Viscount Lake

After the death of Mary Seare’s immediate heirs, the entire Tring Grove estate, apart from the mansion house, had been acquired by Viscount Lake of Aston Clinton [2].  The two farms on the estate were leased to tenants, John Soames followed by Thomas Woodman at Grove Park Farm and Ebenezer Southernwood at Tring Grove Farm.  It seems that all were successful, as local papers of the time are full of accounts of their prizes won at agricultural shows.

Viscount Lake.

Also, Thomas Woodman allowed Tring Cricket Club regular use of the park for practice and matches (roughly in the area where Chiltern Way is situated) [3].  Local papers of the 1830s give accounts of cricket played at Grove, one example from July 1834 gives a flavour of the times:

“GRAND CRICKET MATCH – A game of this favourite and manly old English amusement was played at Tring Grove between four amateurs.  On the one side was a gentleman from Tring Grove and another from Chesham, on the other there were two gentlemen from Berkhamsted.  Each party was allowed the assistance of a scout. The game was played with great spirit, and came off with infinite éclat for Tring Grove and Chesham.  When the game was thrown up, the parties retired to Grove House where an excellent collation had been provided by the hospitality of the worthy host, and good fellowship and hilarity were the order of the day.”

In later years football matches were also played; newspaper reports of the 1890s record that the Brigade Ground of the Church Lads’ Brigade was sited on Tring Grove and used for matches against visiting teams.  The park was also lent for occasions more spiritually uplifting than sport, one example from 1860 is the gala of Tring Temperance Society with the Excelsior Band of Hope in attendance.

Apart from the farmers, the residents of Tring Grove and Marshcroft Lane properties appear like the majority of inhabitants of Tring to be modest folk.  In the Census of 1851 we learn that there were 23 houses, almost all the occupants working as agricultural labourers, straw plaiters, or on Parish relief.  The few exceptions are listed as canvas weaver, game keeper, under-gamekeeper, and huntsman; one poor soul is recorded as “kept by children”.

Changing Times

Beech Grove in Station Road, home of William Brown
shown shortly before demolition.

The real upheaval for this little community began in 1853 when, following family disputes, the Court of Chancery ordered the Lake family’s estate to be auctioned, the sale again arranged by the ubiquitous William Brown (who at this date was living very close by in a newly-built house in Station Road).  Farms and cottages went under the hammer; Grove Park Farm then comprising 108 acres.  This holding consisted of a farmhouse, domestic offices, stabling for four horses, chaise-house, granary and two tenements.  Tring Grove Farm was larger at 296 acres, which included land at Bulbourne with a dwelling (used as a beer-house), stabling, a yard and wharf.

Extract from William Brown's Advertisement.

Pendley Manor property

The neighbouring Manor of Pendley had been purchased by the Rev. James Williams in 1864[4], a member of a Norfolk family who had made a fortune in the silk trade.  At that time he was renting and residing at Tring Park mansion prior to its acquisition by the Rothschilds in 1872.  A small part of the copyhold of the Manor of Pendley included an area on the south side of Tring Grove.  A little later, once the Williams family were living in their newly-constructed house at Pendley, some attractive pairs of estate houses with decorative windows, porches, and tile hanging, as well as a laundry building [5] to serve this big house, were erected on this copyhold land in Marshcroft Lane.

Marshcroft Lane cottages, c.1930.

In 1876 at a Tring Agricultural Association event, J.G.Williams of the Pendley estate, permitted a ploughing competition to be held on the land he owned, a site called Greenfield on the approach to Park Hill Farm.  We learn from the local paper that the 11 competing teams started at nine o’clock and the first prize would be awarded to the man “who shall plough in the best manner, with two horses abreast, half-an-acre in four hours.”

Halfway down the lane at Marshcroft itself, two houses had been erected by the Rothschild Estate in 1881 on the site of earlier cottages (on the front of these properties square frames of brickwork still outline the position of the original plaques which bore the Rothschild coat-of-arms.)  The occupants comprised a farm carter, his wife and five children, and next-door lived a shepherd, wife and four children.  In 1890 these properties and Park Hill Farm were the subject of a land exchange [6] between Lord Rothschild and J G Williams, and at a later stage they were bequeathed to Dorian Williams by his aunt.


Marshcroft, c.1910.

Park Hill Farm (later Marshcroft Farm).
 The building has been extended since built.

Park Hill Farm, so-called from the old medieval field name and now known as Marshcroft Farm, stands at the end of the lane between the Grand Union Canal and the railway line.  For many years it was held by Joseph Clarke, a tenant of the Rothschilds.  The farmhouse has been converted to one private dwelling, as has the nearby very large old granary.  The onward route of Marshcroft has changed from a sharp left turn at this point in the direction of Bulbourne Head, to a straight lane which now joins Northfield Road.

The Butcher Family

Thomas Butcher‘s parents came to the town in the early 19th century, and set up business in a small way as grocers and tallow chandlers.  Their son branched into dealing in seed and corn, prospering sufficiently to found ‘a bank of issue’ [7] in 1836, going on to build fine new premises in what later became the National Westminster Bank in the Lower High Street.  At this date, many small market towns could support a private bank, and the profits enabled Thomas and his sons to invest, as did many successful businessmen, in land and property.

Banknote (No. 7302) issued by Thomas Butcher & Sons, bankers of Tring.

Grove Farm was owned by another member of the family, George Butcher, and in due course a new and larger farmhouse for Tring Grove Farm was erected on the north side of Marshcroft Lane; this was tenanted by William Grange, and later his son, Herbert Grange [8].  All went well until, in 1885, the farm suffered a disastrous fire, which extensively damaged the farmhouse, farm buildings and produce.  Then as now, newspapers delighted in reporting really bad news and a detailed report appeared in the The Bucks Herald:

“ ……the Tring fire engine and that belonging to Roberts & Wilson of Ivinghoe [a large brewery] were sent for ….… the flames spread so quickly that a whole stack of buildings in the centre of the yard, with their entire contents, were in an hour destroyed.  The roof of the farmhouse was caught by the flames, as were the bedroom floor, and some other parts of the house.  Between 200 and 300 quarters of corn were burnt, and about 60 fowls, 100 chickens and eight pigs came to a fiery end. ……. the horses were saved.  A good deal of the furniture of the house was destroyed …… there were ten wells on the premises but not much water in them ………..”

Two more fires in farm sheds at Grove occurred within six weeks in 1905, both thought to be the work of incendiaries, as these sheds were about 60 yards from the road.  A reward of £20 was offered by the Tring Association for the Prosecution of Felons, but it is not known if this incentive saw the miscreants brought to justice.

In the early 1880s Frederick Butcher, another family member, is shown living in The Grove. By this time the Butcher family had become generous benefactors to Tring; one example being when Frederick and his wife generously hosted a Sunday School treat on their Grove estate for the children of New Mill.  The Bucks Herald informs us that:

“420 children with parents and friends were present, although about 600 sat down to tea.  It was found that ample provision had been made for them, and after tea a number of useful articles were distributed as prizes for races.  A display of fireworks very pleasantly terminated the day’s proceedings.”

However, much was changing at Tring Grove, cottages swept away and improvements to the area generally were being carried out.  In 1898, road widening, drainage and sewerage matters were discussed at length at Council meetings and reported in the local paper.  The sewerage question appears to have met with some disagreement as two Councillors considered the proposed new scheme too costly for “a small place like Grove”, but a third stated there had recently been outbreaks of scarlet fever and diphtheria there, an issue which should be addressed.  The scheme was eventually passed with the usual compromises, and a loan of £700.

Workman in a manhole - Grove Road.
Tring Council's water cart, used for road spraying, is behind.


Hollyfield, c.1905.


Arthur William Vaisey

In 1877 Arthur Vaisey, a young solicitor, set out from Gloucestershire to find a suitable practice, and chose Tring where the town’s respected lawyer had recently died (J. M. Shugar, d.1876).  He borrowed the necessary £700 from his father to join this practice and moved into the town with his young wife.  Although he had no resources except what he earned, his finances grew and he was able to build a comfortable house for his family in Grove Road on the outskirts of Tring.  William Huckvale, the local architect, designed a residence in the fashionable Arts & Crafts style, which was completed in 1882.  Embellished with gables, tile-hanging and ornate chimneys, it was named Hollyfield, becoming the family’s much-loved home and a notable centre of hospitality and friendship.

The Manse

On a slightly elevated plot at the far end of Grove Road on the east side near New Mill stands a detached house which was built to serve as the Manse for the nearby Baptist Church in New Road.  Erected in 1894, it was a gift of the Mead family who owned the flour mill [now Heygates], and in the census of 1901 is named Hilldene Villa.  This property, except for brief periods when it has been rented out, has been in continuous occupation by ministers of the Baptist church.  Baptist origins in the local area started in New Mill, where John Bunyan on his travels is said to have ‘preached in the fields’ – hence the name of the modern Bunyan Close on the west side of Grove Road.

The Manse.


A little further on at No.1 The Terrace, Grove Road, was the home and old-established business premises of Arthur Underwood who traded as a builder, decorator and undertaker.  In the 1930s a serious fire broke out at the yard at the top of the garden, and the brigade were called.  The only nearby substantial source of water was the canal feeder a little distance away on the opposite side of the road, and a hose was hurriedly laid down an alley, across the road and up some steps. Sufficient water was pumped to douse the flames and the business was saved.

Station Road properties

Towards the second half of the century, six handsome houses were erected in the Grove Park area on the north side of Station Road, the owners being some of the more affluent residents of the town.  Beech Grove was the first, home of land agent and auctioneer, William Brown.  He had taken advantage of a scheme offered by the L & NW Railway which rewarded the building of new houses near their stations; this was free first-class rail travel for life between Tring and Euston.  Very much later, Beech Grove became for some years the headquarters of the British Trust for Ornithology.

Grove Lodge, Station Road, c.1890.

Keeping alive the old medieval field names, Hawkwell and Hazely followed, then The Laurels, The Cedars and Grove Lodge, the latter (now two properties) occupied by Septimus Gifford Foulkes, a partner of William Brown.  Three of these, Beech Grove, Hawkwell, Hazely are no more, all having been demolished and the land redeveloped with modern houses, but reminders are still there in the road names.

Rear view of Hawkwell, c.1900.


1.    John Maughan of Luton.
2.    Owner of Aston Clinton House (later purchased by Sir Anthony de Rothschild) which had been bought in 1807 by the 1st Viscount Lake of Delhi and Laswary and Aston Clinton, who served as Commander-in-Chief of India. Members of the Lake family owned the Grove Estate until it was auctioned in 1853, following a dispute over the Will of the 3rd Viscount.
3.    Tring Park Cricket Club Sesquicentennial 1836-1986 by David Kempster.
4.    A Perspective on Pendley by Bob Little, pub.2014.
5.    Bucks Herald, 10 July 1886, Plans for “Mr William’s new laundry at Grove” were approved by Tring Council “provided the sink drains were trapped from the outside”.
6.    Herts Record Office, D/E Vy T22
7.    A bank authorised by law to issue banknotes.
8.    Herbert Grange, b.1861 in Wigginton. where his family farmed for many years.



Postcard view of Grove Park, c.1912.

The wall shown below, which stands on undeveloped land in Chiltern Way,
appears to be a remnant of the walled garden shown on the 1877 OS map below.



Adjoining Hollyfield on Grove Road, a second substantial property, Netherby, now the site of modern houses in Netherby Close, was erected on a generous plot by James Honour the owner of a local firm of builders and brick-makers.  Honour had acquired the land at auction in 1889 [1] for £240 and two years later the Local Board approved plans for an impressive house.  However, it was not until 1903 that this house (possibly designed by William Huckvale, but in a very different style to Hollyfield) was built incorporating many of the distinctive architectural features of that era.

Two views of Netherby, c.1903: (bottom) Hollyfield in the distance.

Ten years later the property was put up for auction, and Hampton & Sons estate agents were describing its position as “430 ft. above sea level, immune from noise, dust of motors and other road traffic”.  The accommodation included six bedrooms, one bathroom, and three reception rooms, plus stabling for two horses with a double coach house, fruit garden, pergola, heated greenhouse and vinery.

(When James Honour retired he moved to Chesham Road in Wigginton occupying a house built by the firm and named Netherby Grange, sited almost opposite the brickworks which he owned.  After his death his widow moved to Aylesbury Road, Tring, to a house that she also named Netherby Grange.

Netherby in Grove Road changed hands several times, but by the time of World War II, the property was being put to good use, in that it was requisitioned as a small Isolation Hospital in which to treat infectious diseases suffered by evacuees to Tring.  The accommodation comprised 16 beds, and it was stipulated that not more than one infectious condition should be treated at a time.  As the war neared its end, the hospital had served its purpose and the five remaining patients were transferred elsewhere; shortly afterwards the property was again advertised for sale.

Some time later Netherby became the premises of an exclusive Kindergarten for some 40 children, but in 1969 the owners were applying to Tring U.D.C for Planning Permission to develop the site for residential housing [2]; this was not viewed favourably, and a subsequent Appeal was lodged and upheld, but with certain reservations.  Even so, nothing happened very quickly, and the Kindergarten appears to have continued, but as a venture that appears not to have thrived.  In 1975, a meeting of creditors [3] was held in Watford for the purpose of obtaining a full statement of the company’s affairs and appointing a Liquidator.  In due course, the gracious old property suffered the same fate as Hollyfield, being demolished in 1968 to be replaced by attractive modern houses.

Grove Farm

Herbert Grange, tenant of the Butchers, came from a well-known local farming family and also traded as a corn merchant, running his business from the premises at Tring Grove, as well as operating from an office at the London Corn Exchange in Mark Lane.  Known as the ‘Maize King’, he journeyed to town on most weekdays, with matters at Tring being left in the hands of a farm manager who was accommodated at the old Grove Farm House.

Herbert Grange invoice, 1909.

In 1919 local lad Ralph Seymour [4] joined the firm as an office boy and, in his memoirs, recalls the farm office was a ramshackle building, with a constant flow of people in and out, either bringing in grain, or taking out feed stuffs.  (All the farm buildings were of course infested with rats, and ferrets were used to flush the creatures out.)  He explains that variations in the price of grain could be enormous - on one notable occasion his boss lost £3,000 in a day.  These losses eventually forced Herbert Grange to give up the corn business, thereafter concentrating on farming and his many other local interests.

Cart shed in Grove Farm, c.1900.

Grange was elected Master of the Tring and District Farmers’ Draghunt, formed in 1919, the hounds being kept firstly at The Royal Hotel at Tring Station and then moved to Grove, where they were kennelled near the farm.  A footpath led to the kennels from behind the houses on the south side of Marshcroft Lane halfway towards the corner of Station Road; the story has it that this area smelt of the tripe boiled up to feed the hounds.  They were tended by kennel huntsman Fred Whittel who later took over as landlord of The Greyhound at Aldbury.

A meeting of Tring Farmers’ Draghounds outside Grove Farm.
Celebrating the 70th birthday of Herbert Grange (centre).

The huntsmen became a familiar sight in the area on Saturday afternoons in their uniform of grey and royal blue.  Herbert Grange remained Master until 1933 when the hounds were moved to Chesham, but the hunt failed to survive WWII.  He died aged 77 and is buried in an impressive family tomb in Tring Cemetery.  Later, a pair of farm workers’ cottage adjacent to the farmyard were demolished, and the new Grove Farm House in Marshcroft Lane converted to two private dwellings.

Houses 1-9 The Grove, Marshcroft Lane

In the early part of the 20th century, some attractive pairs of houses for farm workers were erected by the Pendley Estate on land which had previously been an orchard; the tenants enjoyed the long gardens behind these properties and grew vegetables which apparently flourished as a ready supply of excellent manure came from the cowshed immediately opposite.  On the corner of the Lane were stables for two Suffolk Punch farm horses who were often to be seen in the nearby field.

Grove area, OS map 1922 -
the Draghounds kennel is shown bottom right.

Behind the last pair of house was the large separate Pendley Laundry building which served the big house.  The 1901 census tells us that this comprised two households, one occupied by Alice Fenner, wife of the butler at Pendley, and her 11-year old son, Laurence, (later to lose his life by being gassed in World War I).  In the other lived two women – 46-year old Annie Scott described as ‘laundry wash worker’ and her 17-year old assistant, Leah Saunders.  The laundry itself, with large windows, high vaulted ceilings and two loft spaces with hatches operated by pulleys, contained three sizeable rooms – the wet, laundry, and ironing rooms.

Times moved on and by 1938 the tenants were paying £39 per annum, plus water and general rates.  Conditions of rental stipulated that the garden and premises were to be kept clean and neat at all times, and the closet pail had to be properly emptied and provided with earth.  In 1967 there was an opportunity for tenants to buy, which some did at a cost of £1,750.

Houses in Marshcroft Lane today.

The Grove House

No.63 Grove Road, The Grove House, a large late-Georgian house built in the park to the east of the original mansion house, is a symmetrical property with an imposing columned front porch.  Over the years, various tenants are listed in Tring irectories.

Richard Hock, banker,

born Prague 1863, died Tring Grove 1942.

Among them, in 1901 was Miss Darling described in the census as “living on her own means”, and in 1917 we discover a retired soldier, Brigadier-General Alexander Bulstrode Fenton C.B. of the British Indian Army who, after a distinguished career, commanded the 2nd battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment in WWI, a line infantry regiment of the Territorial Army.  In the 1930s another interesting tenant was Franz (Francis) Hock, a member of a Viennese banking family and partner in Singer & Friedlander, one of the City of London’s merchant banks.  His father, Richard Hock, had founded the bank in Vienna.  Following the Anschluss in 1938, he left Austria and joined his son at The Grove, dying there three years later; he is buried in New Mill Baptist church graveyard.  Once in Tring, Franz obviously took to local country life and became a shooting companion of Ralph Seymour.

In later years, the property was owned for some time by Harold and Bridget Brown, a couple very much involved in local affairs.  Both before and after Harold’s death in 2008, land surrounding the house was sold for further development.  The frontage of The Grove House has been slightly altered, with creepers being removed from outside walls and a layout forming an attractive garden entrance.


The Grove House today.

The Farmers Weekly

The 1930s were marred by the Great Depression and World War II, when it became vital that the country should produce as much food as possible.  Accordingly, the proprietors of the magazine The Farmers Weekly [5] decided to acquire several working farms, one of which was established in 1943 as a T.T. dairy and arable farm based in Bulborne and Marshcroft Lane, Tring.  Anxious to maintain good relations with the local population, an open day for 200 neighbours was held nine months after the acquisition.  The then-editor of the magazine outlined a brief history of the farm, and explained the new venture was not intended in any way to be a ‘show place’ – the whole object was to run a farm like any other man who had to make a similar living.  The acreage was at that time 290, and had cost £4,500 including live and dead stock, and a further £1,000 had since been invested.

In an enlightened project after WWII children from Tring Junior School were welcomed to the farm on weekly visits to learn and see farming practices for themselves.  Information acquired was carried back to the classroom, where compositions were written, and walls covered with drawings and diagrams.

In the 1960s this farm was selected for an exercise far ahead of its time, the objective to discover practical ways to combine conservation with profitable farming [6].  By then the dangers of habitat loss were becoming apparent, together with the necessity of ensuring farmers’ cooperation.

Before the exercise was run, biological surveys were made of the farm and it was found the wildlife was unevenly distributed; the best places included a small remnant of chalk grassland and the edge of the canal lined by large bushes.  The existing pond had lost most of its value through neglect.  The findings were reported back to delegates at a conference at Silsoe College, and one can only hope they were useful in future considerations on this important subject which continues to the present day.

Gordon Roxborough, Editor of The Farmers' Weekly, at Grove Farm in 1946.
The combined harvester was purchased on lend-lease from the
from the U.S. for £1,100.

After The Farmers Weekly relinquished the farm, a company attempted to build leisure facilities on land between Bulbourne and Marshcroft Lane.  Earth was moved around next to the canal, but it appeared that the scheme fell through due to lack of planning permission.  Grove Farm is now approached from Bulbourne Road and is occupied by a firm of Agricultural and Farm Contractors.

The cover of The Farmers' Weekly, April 1960, showing Grove Farm
and the junction of Marshcroft Lane and Grove Road.

Modern Times

In the years following WWII to the present, more houses have been built on both sides of Marshcroft Lane, although it continues to retain a rural feeling and is very popular with walkers as a route to the canal and beyond.

In Grove Road, a Junior Mixed school was opened for the summer term of 1973, with 32 pupils, two teachers, a headmaster and secretary.  The building was unfinished on the opening day with no glass in the doors, no heating, no partitions in the toilets and no playground.  Three years later, a separate infants’ school was built, and in 1993 the two schools were amalgamated, the establishment being renamed Grove Road Primary School.  Alterations to the buildings were finished five minutes before the then-Director of Education arrived for the official opening ceremony.  Following fund-raising by the local community, Tring Voluntary Nursery School was built on the same site, and in 1997 it too became part of the main school.

A little further along Grove Road is the Ridgeway Scout Hut, home of Tring Beavers, Cubs, and Scouts.  This was built and furnished by local residents on land donated by Mrs Cole, wife of a Tring doctor.  The premises also serve as a meeting place for a Slimming World group and a polling station for the locality.

Postcard of Grove Road, c. 1939.

On the west side of the Grove area lies Tring School.  Originally founded by the Church of England in 1842 it then occupied the site on Tring High Street where the library now stands.  In the 1930s the junior and secondary departments were re-organised as separate schools, and in 1969 the senior school moved to newly-build premises at the top of Mortimer Hill.  The school converted to academy status in 2012; at the time of writing it is undergoing extensive redevelopment.  The new facilities will include science laboratories, dining room, sports hall and activity studio, as well as a landscaped area fronting the road.

Demolition and rebuilding of Tring School, circa March 2022.
(Part of the new building is just visible behind)

As the 20th century wore on, more and more land in Tring Grove between Station Road, New Mill and the town was developed for private housing, and properties of various dates and styles of architecture cover the greater part of the area.  Some, including individual houses, were erected between the wars on the west side of Grove Road, and in the early 1960s the firm of Percy Bilton Ltd. applied to build 170 houses between Grove Road and the town.  New development continues to the present time, and now most of the surroundings would be totally unrecognisable to inhabitants from the hamlet of Tring Grove.

Advertisement for Percy Bilton homes, 1960.


1. The Bucks Herald, 20 April, 1889.
2. The Bucks Herald, 10 April 1969.
3. The London Gazette, 25 April 1975.
4 Ralph Seymour progressed to become Manager of Mead’s Flour Mill in New Mill, and on retirement was ordained into the ministry of the Church of England.
5. The first issue of The Farmers' Weekly magazine was in 1934, costing 2d. In the 1930s the average circulation reached 100,000 copies, but by 2018 this had fallen to 44,000, reflecting the change and decrease in farming practices.
6. The Environmental History of Twentieth-Century Britain by John Sheall, pub. 2002.



by the same author.

Tring Personalities

More Tring Personalities

Further Tring Personalities

The Tring Collection: Verse and Prose

Tring Gardens: Then and Now

A History of Tring Bowls Club: Centenary 1908-2008

The Second Tring Collection: Verse and Prose

Tring Silk Mill

They called us to Arms - Letters to Tring: The Great War l9l4-1918

Three Tring Industries: Canvas Weaving, Brick making,

A Brief History of the Dunsley Area, Tring

with Ian Petticrew:



Old Grove Farm, formerly Grove farm Cottages.


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