While Tring has a long history – there are records dating back to before the Norman Conquest – and provision for the poor goes way back to at least Elizabethan times, almshouse provision appears to be recent, unlike similar towns. There is an 1819 reference to the Pest House being used as a poor house, which may or may not have the same connotation as an almshouse. Records from Enfield reveal that the poor could live in a pest house but had to vacate in times of plague.
The present charity is a result of amalgamations. In 1884 The Consolidated Charities of the Parish of Tring, The Poor’s Allotment or Pest House Piece and the Allotment for Fuel or the Poor Land were amalgamated to form Tring Consolidated Charities. Further consolidation in 1961 resulted in the formation of Tring Charities. The Charity provides for people living in or having close historic ties with Tring, Long Marston, Marsworth, Puttenham, Aldbury, Wiggington or Wilstone.
Tring Charities almshouse provision seems to have begun in 1950 when 7 bungalows were built in Ash Road. Frank Westron died in 1960, having been a trustee for a number of years. His bequest allowed for the building of further almshouses. An estate of 20 bungalows was built at Westron Gardens in about 1996. Applicants must be over 55 years of age, not own their own homes and not have much in the way of savings. Residents are expected to live independently, caring for themselves without supervision. A Careline system is installed. Tring Charities does not operate care home facilities as it has no warden; all managers live off site. A further property, consisting of 3 units, is Vestry Hall close to the parish church in the centre of town. Unusually for almshouses the Vestry Hall properties are aimed at younger people who are unable to afford a place to live. This may reflect the charity’s educational provision.
The Charity’s management has changed over the years. Tring Charities was at one time managed by the Vicar and Church Wardens of the Church of St Peter and St Paul, with support from trustees nominated by local councils. A revised scheme issued by the Charity Commissioners changed this to eleven competent persons as the trustees. 2 are nominated by Tring Council and 2 by Tring Rural District Council, the other 7 being co-opted. All live locally. They are appointed on the basis of their skills and knowledge to form a balanced group to manage the various aspects of the charity. They meet at least three times a year. Trustees can be re-elected following their 4 year period of office.
Funding for the almshouses comes mostly from beneficiaries’ contributions, topped up from investment income. The charity owns about 11 acres of land apart from the almshouses.
The Charity has a ‘no pets’ rule. This did cause some problems for one resident in about 2011. She had a dog when she moved in. After the dog died she took in another dog belonging to a relative who could no longer look after it. This led to issues about letting the dog go or facing eviction, and the case was taken up by the papers. That in turn led to accusations about human rights breaches. It’s not clear how much of an issue this really was; newspapers can at times exaggerate issues to increase readership. At the same time it is a reflection of how charities may have to adapt to changes in laws or public opinion, or indeed if such changes are viable.
Tring Charities are affiliated to the Almshouse Association and registered with the Charity Commission ref 207805.
Ash Road, Tring
Georef: 492017 211950
Grid ref: 51 47’ 55”N 00 40’ 01”W
Westron Gardens, off Mortimer Hill, Tring
Georef: 492731 , 211723
Grid ref: 51°47′47″N , 000°39′24″W
Church Yard, Tring
Georef: 492421 , 211458
Grid ref: 51°47′39″N , 000°39′41″W
The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford ed William Page
Issued Archibald Constable & Co. 1908. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 ISBN 0 7129 0476 X
Vol 2 pp 281, 293-4
This publication is available online at https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol2/pp281-294
Websites accessed Sep 2023
http://www.tringcharities.co.uk. Accessed Jan 2023
http://www.tringtoday.co.uk/news/almshouse-resident-in-fight-to-keep-her-pet-dog-1-2493763 dated 2011; see justiceforvictims below. Site not available by 2023
http://justiceforalmshousevictims.org.uk/dir/?page_id=152 Case of dog ownership. Site not available by 2023