History of Tong

The parish of Tong covers twelve square miles with two main clusters of houses one at Tong and one at Tong Norton.

Tong is on the Staffordshire/Shropshire boundary. The parish is dissected by the A41, the London to Chester trunk road, and Its northern boundary is the A5 which was Watling Street, the Roman road between London and Holyhead.

From the top of Tong Hill one can see the Wrekin to the West and beyond, on a clear day, the distant Welsh mountains. The name 'Tong' is probably derived from the 'tongue' of land formed by the two streams that define the southern and western boundaries of the parish. Just to the North of Tong Norton is Weston Park, formerly the home of the Earls of Bradford, now run by a charitable foundation and venue for the V Festival.



In 1764 George Durant, whose vast fortune came almost entirely from the slave trade, bought the entire village of Tong for £40000. He then employed virtually the whole population -about 400 people -and ran the parish rather like a kingdom. Having partly demolished the existing 16th Century Tudor castle, Durant started to construct the first gothic building in Shropshire. Tong Castle soon became huge and monstrously fussy and was described by Lord Torrington in 1792 as full of "overgrown taste" and requiring "a very large fortune to maintain".

George Durant died in 1772 when he was 46 and his son, also George, was only four. However young George did eventually inherit and proved to be just as peculiar and eccentric as his father. Not until 1854, with the fourth generation of Durants, did the estate pass out of the family and into the possession of the Earls of Bradford. By that time there were 564 inhabitants in Tong parish living In 114 houses and some 60 were employed in agriculture or related trades.

 Over the next century Tong Castle gradually became derelict and dangerous and it was blown up in 1954. Today the M54 passes where it once stood and all that remains are a few bits of rubble.

The profile of Tong's population has also altered dramatically: by 2001 only 17 were in farming. The opening of the M54 in 1983 brought growth and prosperity to the region and thanks to Tong's convenient access to Telford, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and the Black Country, most of the people who now live in Tong are commuters.



The village is principally famous for its church, St Bartholomew's, which is dearly seen from the A41.

Tong Church has been called 'The Westminster Abbey of the Midlands' so beautiful and so fine its monuments. The present building has been there for 600 years and it serves as a historical record of the inhabitants of the parish.

Perhaps the oldest grave here is that of Sir Fuike de Pembrugge, who was lord of Tong from 1371 to 1409. His second wife Isabella lies by his side: she founded the church in 1410 so that masses could be said for Sir Fulke and her two other husbands, Thomas Peyteveyne and John Ludfow.

The most noted monuments are those of the Vemons, amongst them Sir Richard, a 15th-century Speaker of the House of Commons, and his wife Benedicta. Another (ink with the Vernon family is the Great Bell of Tong which was given to the church in 1518 by Henry Vernon.

In the churchyard is the purported grave of Little Nell, a fictional character in Charles Dickens book, The Old Curiosity Shop. It is thought that Charles Dickens visited Tong church when his grandmother worked at Tong Castle and based the place where Little Nell died on the village.

The popularity of the novel brought many visitors to Tong Church from as far afield as America where it was published serially and in 1910 the verger made a false entry in the burial records and created a 'grave' which still attracts tourists.

The church of St. Bartholomew's in Tong was chosen by Simon Jenklns of The Times as one of the best 1,000 churches (out of 15,000) in England.

For so small a parish - now just over 200 people live here - Tong still thrives as a community with its Church, a well-utilized Parish Hall, and the popular Belt Inn on the A41.

‘Tours and Teas’ may be organised through the vicarage, the Parish Hall can be hired for events, and information and advertising may be included in the magazine, Tong News.

The Vicarage The Archdeacon's Secretary 01902 372622
The Parish Hall Mrs All Hunt 01902 374009
Tong News Mrs Bunty Chinner 01902 374033
The Bell Inn Sarah 01952 850210


For more detailed information about Tong click on this link


and find out how to buy the erudite and highly entertaining book Discovering Tong written by the

Venerable Robert Jeffery, Archdeacon of Shropshire and vicar of Tong from 1978 to 1