A new book that chronicles the entire 1,700-year history of a country house in Tring has just been published.
Pendley Manor is now a hotel and conference centre and was previously home to BBC showjumping commentator Dorian Williams.
But the book charts its history back to the time of the ancient Britons and Romans.
A Perspective on Pendley: a history of Pendley Manor explores the reign of England’s last great heathen king, Penda.
Penda sired a child at 77, died in battle at 80 and seems to have given his name to the village of Pendley – which is recorded from the fourth century AD.
Bob Little’s book also tells the story of how Sir Robert Whittingham demolished medieval Pendley and built the first manor house in its place.
The book explores the time in which the Andersons occupied the manor. The family facilitated the illicit union that produced US president George Washington.
Mr Little said: “Along the way, Pendley Manor acquired some peacocks, a famous Shakespeare Festival, a couple of ghosts and a host of stories.
“Many of these stories are unrecorded but some, at least, have come down to us through the ages – and are told within this book.”
Mr Little first visited Pendley as a boy to watch one of plays at its famed alfresco Shakespeare Festival.
He said: “Researching the book, writing it and bringing the whole project to fruition has been a time- travelling adventure.
“It’s offered intriguing and sometimes enlightening glimpses into various historical periods – along with an idea of the part that Pendley played in influencing those periods.
“The research has revealed fascinating insights into the characters, now long dead, who’ve shaped the manor’s history. Hopefully, this book will yield up at least some of these insights to its readers.”
The book is available from Pendley Manor, www.amazon.co.uk and other distributors. To learn more about it, ring Mr Little on 01727 860405.