St Bartholomew’s, Tong
The Parish of Tong Church
Our church ‘family’
The benefice of Shifnal, Tong and Sheriffhales
Although Tong is a parish in its own right, boasting its own church council (PCC) its population of roughly 200 souls means that the church is not viable on its own. For some years we have therefore been pleased to be part of the benefice of Shifnal, Sheriffhales and Tong. Shifnal is the centre for many reasons and we are grateful for the direction, leadership and facilities it offers. The arrangement between the three churches works well, with one Administrator and a team of clergy and lay assistants serving all three churches so that church services, funerals etc can always be co-ordinated and covered from the centre. For example, during the lockdown of 2020 Shifnal masterminded the online, live-streamed services with readers, pray-ers and preachers from all three churches being involved in delivery. We are particularly proud to say that the virtual congregations included many people from the parishes of Tong and Sheriffhales.
The parish of Tong is essentially rural, though in the last two decades commuters and retireds have moved in and there is a serious proposal for 3000 houses to be built in the not-too-distant future with ancillary factories for employment along the M54. Junction 3 of the motorway is within the parish boundary, and the A41 with its heavy lorries bound for Chester and Ellesmere Port runs between the church and the site of the castle ( demolished in 1954). Much of the land is owned by Bradford Estates who have submitted the development proposal. The Earl of Bradford of Weston Park bought the castle and its farms in 1855. Tong is in Shropshire. Weston Park, a couple of miles distant is in Staffordshire.
Off the beaten track
The population is just over 200 divided between four hamlets: Tong Village, Tong Norton, Tong Havannah and Neachley. There are four almshouses at present, some agricultural houses and some cottages as well as more substantial dwellings and an estate called Ruckley. The remaining farms are tenanted.
Tong Village is very attractive with some very old houses including the timbered Church Farm which was probably a coaching inn ( on the Chester Road) and a draw for tourists along with St. Bartholomew’s church.
Our local ‘hostel’
Today most of the amenities have been withdrawn from Tong, although we still have a Parish Council and Parish Hall. Unfortunately there is no bus service, no Post Office, and no shop. Luckily The Bell Inn survives on the A 41 at Tong Norton with an all-night garage next door which sells basic necessities such as milk and bread.
Tong is a hop and a skip from our neighbouring villages of Albrighton and Shifnal, both of which are well supplied with shops, library, post office and even railway stations. Telford Town Centre, with its’ retail parks, is just along the motorway – junctions 4 and 5.
With such a small community, why is there such a large and handsome church? The answer lies in the fact that there has been a castle – or something similar – since before the Conquest. The farm land was good, there were trees for firewood and a water supply.
William the Conqueror gave it all to his cousin Roger de Montgomery, but it was in the early Fifteenth Century that the then owner of the Castle had the present structure built along with a College to ensure a supply of priests to say Mass for the souls of the departed.
Many of these wealthy people now lie on tombs in the church and are the draw for many tourists.
Everyone is welcome
Come and join the family
As far as the worshipping congregation goes, the average weekly attendance is about 30, most of whom do not live in Tong. Many people see the church from the A 41 or have read about it because it has a really interesting history and have become involved.
Some have their weddings here and of those a few stay on. Others joined the congregation many years ago and have remained faithful. Because of the distances people travel to get to church it is rare for there to be mid-week meetings except the Church Council, so Sundays are always a good time to get together and to welcome newcomers. Most people stay for coffee/tea long after the service has ended.
Tong Church has everything
But don’t take our word for it. Join us on a tour of our beautiful church….
We are able to offer a conducted tour of our famous, beautiful church. This ancient building was dedicated in 1410, and is held to be one of the finest examples of a church built in perpendicular style in the country.
Our tour lasts for about an hour, during which time you will see the famous Golden Chapel, our unique collection of magnificent medieval tombs and carved effigies. You can explore our historical links with Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and not forgetting little Nell!
And, not for the faint hearted, try a tour of the tower. You will see one of the largest bells in the country! Nowadays, due to Health and Safety concerns regarding the very worn spiral steps and extremely limited space we only let visitors up the tower at their own risk and make them sign a disclaimer, but Bell ringing enthusiasts are often still keen to visit.
Would you like to help us?
The Tong Vision for 2020 and beyond had a target to raise £500,000 over 3 years in order to fund urgent and
essential restoration work, and to ensure that all visitors and congregations can continue to enjoy this unique building! If you can
offer your support either financially, in-kind or otherwise, please contact Revd Pippa Thorneycroft ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or
the Vission2020 “Support Us” page on this web site, or visit our JustGiving page by clicking on the image, below.
A big thank you to all our supporters! Particular thanks go to the following:
St Bartholomew’s Church
General enquiries to:
Minister In Charge:
The Revd. Preb. Pippa Thorneycroft
Tel: 01902 375523 email@example.com
Tel: 07970 869011
(Weddings. Baptisms etc.)
Find us on Facebook:
If you have visited us, for whatever reason, we would really appreciate it if you would visit our Facebook page and leave a comment, review or a picture or two!
Would You Like To Support Us?
The Tong Vision for 2020 and beyond has a target to raise £500,000 over the next 3 years in order to fund urgent and
essential restoration work, and to ensure that all visitors and congregations can continue to enjoy this unique building!
If you can offer your support either financially, in-kind or otherwise, please contact Revd Pippa Thorneycroft (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit our JustGiving page by clicking the image, below.
At present there are no toilet facilities at Tong Church. For an organised tour and at weddings, baptisms and funerals as well as Sunday services, access to the Parish Hall (two minutes walk) is available. For concerts and fêtes we usually provide portaloos.
If you find it difficult to walk up the slope to church to attend services please let us know by sending someone ahead or Tel: 07970 869011 and we will provide assistance. We regret that we are unable to offer this support during the week for visitors.