Marble monument to Sir William Gore (1644–1707) and his wife Elizabeth (d.1705).
The monument shows Gore, in the robes of Lord Mayor of London, and his wife reclining on either side of a funerary urn.
The monument's attribution to Grinling Gibbons or his pupil John Nost is speculative.
Daniel Defoe, passing through Tring on his travels, reported “at Tring is a most delicious house, built à la moderne” which referred to the mansion purchased by Sir William. It had been erected in the 1680s to a plain but pleasing design, said to be that of Sir Christopher Wren. Surrounded by a small deer park, it had gardens described as “of unusual form and beauty”. Sir William’s healthy income soon allowed him to buy another 300 acres to add to his estate. He and Lady Gore, together with their eight surviving children, presumably settled in happily and started to enjoy the wide vistas of parkland, with a backdrop of the beautiful beech woods along the Chiltern escarpment. As we all know, even when one finds the ideal property, there is always a snag – at the Tring Park mansion the problem was traffic. The main road through the town at that time followed a route to the south of the house, passing in front of the windows of the chief reception rooms. The elegant walnut furniture and Delft china probably rattled as coaches and wagons rumbled by and, an even worse horror, the general populace could catch a glimpse of the family dining. This state of affairs was swiftly rectified when Sir William’s son inherited the estate, and petitioned to move and sink the level of the road to the other side of the house. As this then became the route of Tring High Street, much of today’s traffic congestion in the town can be blamed firmly on William Gore junior.
Tring Mansion built in 1682 during
the reign of King Charles II by Sir Christopher Wren
William Gore junior had not to wait too long to gain his inheritance, for by 1707 both
parents were dead. Ever a dutiful son, he erected in Tring Church an
enormous memorial. Their life-sized marble effigies are attired in
the height of early-18th century finery, Sir William wearing an
immense and elaborate periwig. Accompanied by a graceful gesture of
his hand, he is discoursing to his wife, who stares stonily ahead
into space. Having now heard her husband’s stories for over 300
years, she is probably entitled to look a trifle bored.
The history of Tring Park then followed a fairly humdrum course for some 150 years. The dynamic change to the town by the coming of the Rothschilds has been written up many times, but no account of our moneymen can be complete without another mention. In 1872 the estate was bought at auction, and Tring greeted this news with slight apprehension but little surprise, for the Rothschilds were already well established in the Vale of Aylesbury. Their merchant bank had been founded in St Swithin’s Lane in the City in the early 1800s, and it was Nathaniel, the eldest grandson of the founder who came to live at Tring; he continued to consolidate his family’s immense wealth, and it was the town’s good fortune to acquire this very benevolent Lord of the Manor, as he and his wife took their responsibilities seriously. The rebuilding of slum housing, improved agriculture, foundation of charities and guaranteed employment greatly helped people living in the town and its satellite villages. Not all agreed with some of the building programmes for Tring, which included the enlargement and improvement of the mansion house itself. Wren’s classical facade disappeared behind red brick and a French-style pavilion roofline, and some unkind folk likened the result to the appearance of an institution; this was not far from the truth, for today the building is a well-known school for the performing arts.
Tring Park Mansion’s front entrance following refacing by architect George Devey c.1889.
It can never be disputed that the Rothschilds brought glamour to
Tring. The guest list at their country house weekends was an
impressive mix of the great and the good, headed by the Prince of
Wales, Mr Gladstone, and Lord Randolph Churchill. Sir Nathaniel was
created a peer, the first member of the Jewish faith in Britain to
be so honoured when his seat in Parliament then passed to his
cousin, but his
interest in politics never diminished, and he continued to be a
powerful influence behind the scenes. During Word War I, Lord
Rothschild’s health was failing and he died in 1915. This, together
with death duties and the after effects of the war, brought great
changes for Tring; the estate was gradually broken up, and although
reminders of the Rothschild era are still evident all over the town,
the life that it
represented has vanished.
It was not long however before another eminent banker chose to make
his home in the Tring. In 1931 Sir Gordon Nairne did not expect to
own anything so grand as a mansion in a park, for his origins were
modest, and his success in life had been built upon his own ability,
application, and integrity. He was a son of Scotland, born in Castle
Douglas and, after working in Glasgow, he entered the Bank of
England in 1880, and served there for fifty years until his
retirement. His talent for financial management was recognised at
the comparatively early age of 41 when he was appointed Chief
Cashier. Perhaps Gordon then allowed his grave features a twitch of
a smile of pride on the first occasion that he saw bank notes
bearing his own signature. The novelty must have worn off, for he
held the post for sixteen years, and part of this time covered the
critical period of the Great War. This was especially difficult for
banking as the Treasury issued currency notes through the Bank of
England in almost unlimited amounts, with inevitable inflationary
consequences. The Bank was in safe hands however, and Gordon Nairne
received his deserved reward. In 1917 he was created a baronet, and
the following year appointed to the newly-created post of
Comptroller. A Directorship followed in 1925, Sir Gordon being the
first member of staff to achieve this position. His wise guidance
was appreciated elsewhere too, for he was honoured by other
countries, including France, Belgium and Japan.