Topographical and Statistical Description of the County of Hertfordshire
by George Alexander Cooke
Tring is distinguished for an atrocious occurrence which took place here in the year 1751. Some ignorant country people, alarmed at the mortality produced among their cattle by a contagious disorder then prevalent, attributed all the mischief to the witchcraft of John and Ruth Osborne, an old married couple of this town, and, assembling in a riotous manner, proclaimed their accusation to the public at the three neighbouring market-towns of Winslow, Leighton Buzzard, and Hemel Hempstead, upon their respective market days. The following was the form of the proclamation made at Hemel Hempstead.
"This is to give notice that on Monday next, a man and woman are to be publicly ducked at Tring in this county, for their crimes."
According to this notice these bigotted and superstitious rioters seized the unfortunate victims of their persecutors, dragged them from the vestry of the church, to which, on account of its sanctity, they had fled as a place of refuge, and ducked them so severely, that the old woman, already weighed down almost to the grave by the pressure of years, affliction, and infirmities, expired upon the spot, and was followed iu a very few days after by her aged husband, The coroner's verdict declaring that they were wilfully murdered, several of the ringleaders in this barbarous transaction were brought to trial, and capitally convicted.
The Market House here is a sorry building, erected upon wooden pillars: the market is held weekly upon Friday for the sale of corn, straw plat, &c.; a pillory and cage are placed under the market-house, There is an annual fair held here upon the 29th of September. Here is a Charity school for the education and clothing of twenty boys, and a Sunday-school has been founded within the last few years for the instruction of about 80 boys and girls. The dissenters have four meeting houses here.
The manufacture of straw plat constitutes the chief employment of the inhabitants, the number of whom amounts, according to the last returns, to 1621, and the number of houses to 328.
Adjoining to Tring, upon the south side of the road, is TRING PARK, the beautiful and extensive demesne of Sir Drummond Smith, who was raised to the rank of a baronet in the summer of 1804. The dwelling-house is spacious, elegant, and commodious, pleasantly situated, and commanding, especially to the south, many rich and extensive prospects. The apartments are handsomely furnished, and in several of them there are some good paintings, among which we cannot avoid noticing a singular whole length of Queen Elizabeth, which hangs in the small drawing-room upon the right of the hall. This painting is not improbably a copy of that by Zucchero, which hangs in the palace at Kensington. ....
The ball-room, which, is situated over the hall, is a handsome room, illuminated by a circular dome.
Tring Park contains about 350 acres of excellent land, beautifully diversified by hill and dale, richly wooded, and well stocked with deer.
Upon the opposite side of the road [from Aylesbury to Berkhamsted], close to the Braunston canal is TRING GROVE, agreeably situated in a small park; this is at present the residence of Mr. Broadwood, brother to Lady Dashwood.
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