Trading Places in Tring
PUBLISHED: 12:56 28 October 2014 | UPDATED: 12:56 28 October 2014
The riverside market town of Tring in the south west of the county has a friendly feel built on centuries of trade. Julie Lucas finds some of the best places to shop, chat and eat
Known for its remarkable natural history museum and bordering the natural beauty of the Chilterns, the ancient market town of Tring has retained not only its charming character but a vibrant shopping experience – with quality farm shops, special cafés and a wide range of thriving independents.
A good day to visit the town is a Friday when the fortnightly general auction market is open for viewing. Situated in the middle of the town, Tring Market Auctions has large rooms with an eclectic mix of furniture, bric-a-brac, glassware and china – the perfect example of a traditional auction room. Take a tape measure, as measurements will not always be clear. One interested customer asked a porter if he could tell him the size of a carpet. ‘I can’t, except to say that it is big!’ he replied. The general auction sale takes place the day after the viewing.
For a sumptuous sandwich try Sandwich Plus. Steve Roost took over the former bakery from his parents and although the shop on Dolphin Square looks modest from the outside, Steve has used his bakery training and knowledge of working in French restaurants to create something special. It’s not your run-of-the-mill sandwich shop; the menu can feature roasted rabbit and vegetable soup complemented by breads such as green olive and sourdough made under Steve’s direction by a local artisan baker.
A couple who also believe in using fresh produce are Toby and Sarah Murray who run Beechwood Fine Foods on Frogmore Street. ‘We call it “the farm shop in town”,’ said Toby. ‘Our ethos is all British and local where we can. The fruit we pick ourselves and Sarah uses this in the produce she makes.’ Give your toast a kick with their boozy berry jam – a mixture of fruit and homemade sloe gin.
More fresh produce is available at Dunsley Farm shop in London Road, while next door the renowned Tring Brewery sells its delicious range of craft beers brewed on-site – book for day and evening tours.
On the High Street, health shop Harmony sells good vegetarian food and is known for its selection of teas – many are good for medicinal purposes, such as relieving sore throats and headaches.
Home and gifts.
For homewares and interiors, head to the Market House. This airy, glass-fronted High Street shop sells ranges such as LSA glass and Linun. Owner Suzanne Blair said customers come not only from the town but also from the surrounding areas to visit the shop.
Also on the High Street and stocked from floor to ceiling is Fancy That, a treasure trove of gifts and toys, while down the hill House of Cards does what it says, with a fantastic range.
Another High Street port of call is Maggie J Jewellers. It has a fresh take on jewellery – its ‘time for tea’ silver necklace makes a lovely gift for a friend.
At the delightfully-named Monkey, Floss and Me on the charter market each Friday, you can find hand-painted and vintage furniture, fabrics and more.
Ask most little girls what they would like to be and ‘a fairy’ tops the list. Well now this fantasy can be played out at the Hyatt Studios with a photographic session. Manager and photographer at the High Street studio is Phil Austin, who said the fairy concept has become really popular in the past couple of years. He added, ‘We also get lots of little brothers coming in and we dress them up as Peter Pan or elves and for older boys we offer a pirate experience.’ The finished photos make a delightful keepsake.
Opposite the studio, the Picture Box offers original and printed artwork, while nearby Orygyns sell unusual childrenswear and traditional toys.
Named after the film Gosford Park, Gosford Pets is a pet shop with style. The idea for the High Street outlet began when owner Laura Bromley graduated from university but couldn’t get a job – so decided to create her own.
She explained, ‘A lot of pet shops look horrible so I wanted to go upmarket – while everything is still sold at the recommended retail price.’
The oldest shop in Tring is G Grace and Son. Now in its eighth generation, the business started in 1750 as a blacksmith’s in Frogmore Street. It then became an ironmonger and in 1891 the business moved into its present-day location in the High Street with a smelt works out the back. The clock on St Peters and St Pauls Church in the town and much of the ironworks in Tring Museum were made here. The shop’s façade has barely changed and the quality of goods is still the same. Many of the original features have been retained, including the beautiful old displays behind the counter. Another established family hardware shop on the High Street, with more than 60 years’ experience, is Metcalfs. Housed across what was once two shops, it also has a comprehensive cookshop with a vegetarian café called Anusia.
Mayor Stephen Hearn believes it is the mix of independent traders along with boutique-style outlets that makes Tring a wonderful place to shop. Jon Edwards from the quirky and delightful Fancy That gift shop agrees: ‘It’s the people that make it. It’s a lovely friendly town with lots of independent family businesses. The people who are serving you are often the people who buy the goods in and run the business. It’s this that makes Tring special.’