A performing arts school where academic performance also shines
Pupils benefit from an outstanding academic education, whilst being able to specialise in Dance, Musical Theatre, Acting and Commercial Music courses.
Olive Mary Ripman (co-founder) was born in 1886, in Teddington, Middlesex. It is believed she started her first dance school in Croydon around 1919 at the age of 33. Olive Ripman was, by the 1930’s, a highly respected dance teacher and chorographer whose reputation preceded her. Olive Ripman died in Newton Abbot, Devon in 1981.
Grace Cone (co-founder), full name Angela Nadine Grace Cohn, was born in Lewisham in 1892. The Cone family were originally from Germany and came to the United Kingdom sometime between 1885 and 1891.The earliest newspaper cuttings found see Grace dancing at the age of 17 in Worthing in 1909 and her applying for licences to London County Council for her dancing business in 1927. Grace Cone died in Hove, Brighton in 1980.
The school moved to ‘Loddington Hall’, Uppingham in Leicestershire. ‘The Sketch’ newspaper did a piece on the school and took some unusual photographs! The house was once again requisitioned, this time by the Paratrooper Regiment, so they moved back south to Folly Court in Wokingham. After a short stay at Wokingham the next move was to ‘Rawdon Hall’, Holyport near Maidenhead. The last move before they came to Tring, was to a farmhouse called ‘Ystumllyn’, an old 16th century building near Porthmadog in Wales.
The school moved to the Rothschild Mansion in Tring Park. During the war the Rothschild Mansion was used by the Rothschild Bank for administration and to house important documents, which they wanted to store away from the bombing in the capital. The Mansion was also used as a hospital for people from the east end of London who were struggling with life and the blitz.
During the war years the school’s name was a bit of a mystery but in 1947 we know it was called ‘The Cone Ripman School’. Then in 1948 the school’s name was changed to the ‘Tring Park School of Theatrical Arts’. By 1949 it was changed again to the ‘Arts Educational Schools’. Eventually the two schools became more commonly known as, ‘ArtsEd Tring’ and ‘ArtsEd London'.
In 1963 Grace Cone and Olive Ripman took a backseat and Beryl Grey an ex-student, later to be Dame Beryl Grey became the Director of the School. 1965 Mrs Hearn became Principal of the school and she retired in 1967. Miss Janet Sinclair took over but for a year then Marie Jack arrived and was to stay for the next 19 years.
In 1970 The Arts Educational Schools Trust, then still allied with AES London in Chiswick, acquired the freehold of the Mansion and 17 acres of the former park and gardens from the Rothschild family. Things are beginning to change, and great plans are being made.
The new School dining room was built in 1982 and was named the Cone-Ripman Hall in honour of the founders. A plan was developed to build a school theatre. An Appeals Committee was set up to raise funds for construction of what was to become the “Markova Theatre”. In 1988 Marie Jack collected her OBE at Buckingham Palace. Mrs Jack retired in 1989. Mrs Margaret Sweet was appointed Headmistress.
In 1994 the decision was taken to separate from AES London. When the Schools separated, Tring Park School was set up as an independent company with the title ‘AES Tring Park School Trust’. As part of the separation, the Tring school acquired freehold title to Tring Park.
In 1998 the school won the Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year Competition, under the direction of Vaugh Meakins. The choir later toured America. The picture is from a performance the choir did with Val Doonican.
In 2001 Mr Stefan Anderson was appointed Principal of the school. In 2002, the science laboratories in the ‘New Block’ were enlarged and refurbished, together with the IT Suite and the Design and Textiles Room. The Courtyard area was also completely reconfigured. In 2007 Eve Pettinger became a Member of the order of the British Empire. In 2009 the school changed its name to Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.
2011 saw the opening of five new dance studios and won a design award presented by The Chilterns Conservation Board. The Commercial Music Course arrived one year later in 2012.
In 2014 the school started a national tour for its graduate year dancers under the directorship of Antony Dowson, and the company, known as Encore, now performs annually at ten theatres nationwide each spring.
The School Choir, known as the 16, won the BBC Songs of Praise Choir of the Year, under the direction of Liz Norris. The 16 once again won the award in 2019.
Elizabeth House was finished in 2019 and now houses a theatre set design space, three large performances spaces and two classrooms on the lower ground floor with seventy-two bedrooms on the other three floors.
Tring Park offers a wide range of benefits (role dependent) including a pension scheme, cycle to work scheme, free school lunches during term time, free onsite parking and enhanced maternity and paternity schemes.