St Bartholomew’s, Tong


Women of Tong

A new booklet has been published telling the story of the village of Tong through the centuries from the point of view of its remarkable women!

Tong is now a small Shropshire hamlet, but six hundred years ago it had a major place in English history. It was a significant staging post on the important Worcester-Chester road because of its prestigious castle and important religious community, making it a useful strategic ally for the English kings and courtiers in their ongoing skirmishes in the Welsh marches.

Many notable and notorious characters have been associated with Tong over the centuries. Its story has been chiefly shaped by powerful men. But no one has yet attempted to record the part played by the brilliant array of women who lived, worked and worshipped there. This booklet tells some of their stories and captures how each left their mark.
Foremost among these women is Lady Isabel de Pembrugge, without whose persistence, faith and wealth, the church of St Bartholomew Tong – one of Shropshire’s gems – would never have been founded back in the early 1400s.

In writing this booklet, Pippa Thorneycroft, the Minister-in-Charge at St Bartholomew’s Church, has brought together some famous figures from history – such as Katherine of Aragon – Henry Vlll’s first wife, and Lady Wortley Montagu, who was the first advocate for immunisation by vaccination. Alongside these are several local unsung ‘hidden’ figures:

“It has been the powerful men of Tong who have written its history; yet what of all the generous, spiritual, intriguing and dedicated women who have been here and left their mark on the village and the church?. I didn’t want them to be forgotten.”

Copies priced £6 are available from the church and also from Pippa.

Shakespeare’s Stanley Epitaphs in Tong, Shropshire

Sir Edward received in 1601-3 from his friend William Shakespeare two Verse Epitaphs for his family tomb in Tong, Shropshire. These are the only ones still to be seen today except for the one on the Bard’s own gravestone. Sir Edward, through his Stanley cousins, his Vernon mother and his Percy wife, happened to be rather closely related to three Earl Alternative Authorship Candidates, several characters in Shakespeare’s Lancastrian History Plays and several candidates for the ‘Dark Lady’ of the Sonnets. Sir Edward can thus be seen as a pivotal figure in the Shakespeare-Stanley constellation. This book concludes with the first ever biographies of of him and his father Sir Thomas Stanley, who suffered for planning to help Mary, Queen of Scots escape from Chatsworth in 1570.
This book includes 29 Chapters, 12 Appendices, an 8-page colour block and 99 black and white illustrations, and a comprehensive Bibliography and Index.

Copies available from within the church.
Price £25.

A shorter version of this text, Shakespeare’s Stanley Epitaphs in Tong, Shropshire is also available.

Walks from St Bartholomew’s Church

4 circular walks taking in local points of historical interest. set of 4 maps on sale at the church. £2.00.

Discovering Tong – Its History,
Myths and Curiosities

To Purchase Online please visit: or Copies are available within the Church.

If you want to know more about this book or the village of Tong, its history and its association with St Bartholomew’s please visit:

In addition to these featured publications, there is a short, informative guide available for £3, plus a selection of postcards.

As well as those mentioned above, there are two books of J.E. Auden’s notes which were collected, edited and published by Joyce Frost, wife of Archdeacon George Frost who combined his job as archdeacon with that of vicar of Tong . J. E Auden was vicar 1896 – 1913 ( uncle of the poet W.H. Auden). It covers a range of things to do with Tong including some fascinating snippets.

A book of  selected sermons, lectures and writings by The Very Reverend Robert Jeffery who was the first archdeacon to combine his role with that of vicar of Tong and was entranced by the place and its history. It is through his research that we have the book “ Discovering Tong” with the first penetrating description of life at the Castle under the  extraordinary Durants – one of whom had 53 children! Bob Jeffery was buried at Tong in January 2017 in an unmarked grave but there are two small glass lozenges in the north window of the chancel on the east side of the screen to remember him and his wife Ruth. 

In the Shropshire Archives are the Reports of the Tong Archaeological Group under the leadership of Alan Wharton which excavated  the site of Tong Castle in the decade from 1976.

Tong Church has everything

But don’t take our word for it. Join us on a tour of our beautiful church….

Find out more here

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.