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St Bartholomew

St Bartholomew's church is a 600 year old treasure house of alabaster tombs, medieval carving, history and scandal, often described as ‘The Westminster Abbey of the Midlands’.

Tong, Shropshire

Opening times

Every day in reasonable daylight hours.


Newport Road
TF11 8PW

Tong castle was given to Roger de Montgomery by William the Conqueror, his cousin. There has been a castle on the site until 1954 when it was blown up because it was unsafe. Most of it is now under the M54.

There was an original church and a hospice but in 1409 the then owner of the castle, Sir Fulke de Pembrugge died, and his wife set about the mammoth task of requesting King Henry lV to allow her to build a college and a new church so that the priests of the college could say masses for her Crusader husband's soul. The only addition to the church was in 1510 when the chantry chapel was built for Sir Henry Vernon complete with fan vaulting like the ceiling of Henry Vll's chapel at Westminster Abbey. Sir Henry was a confidant of Henry Vll and guardian to his son Prince Arthur who with his wife, Catherine of Aragon, lived at Ludlow castle and no doubt visited the Vernon castle at Tong. The chapel would have been highly coloured with much gold and Sir Henry lies in stone alongside his wife Anne (née Talbot).

Much later in the 18th century the chapel was turned into the family pew of George Durant ll, whom we know to have fathered over 50 children. There are other high class alabaster tombs of the Vernons and one of Purbeck marble, 2 splendid brasses, medieval carved screen, roof bosses and misericords.

The Great Bell was installed by Sir Henry, weighing 2 and half tons and the ninth largest in the country. There are 'rules' for when it can be rung or tolled. In addition to the architecture and furnishings, there are two literary connections; the double decker memorial to the Stanley family has epitaphs at both head and foot which were written by William Shakespeare, and Dickens set the final chapters of 'The Old Curiosity Shop' in Tong as his grandmother was housekeeper at the castle. Little Nell's 'grave' is still to be seen in the churchyard. The east window is by Charles Kempe, the earlier one having been blown out by the Cavaliers using cannon against the Parliamentarians sheltering in the church. We have a cannon ball on show.

Both Charles l and Charles ll passed by, the latter twice, escaping from the Battle of Worcester. Boscobel, where he hid, is a couple of miles up the lane. Recently an Elizabethan embroidery about 6' x 4' has been restored by the National School of Needlework at Hampton Court and will shortly be on show. The organ, built by JW Walker in 1877 is listed grade ll and is also to be restored.

  • Captivating architecture

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Famous connections

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Social heritage stories

  • Dog friendly

  • Level access throughout

  • On street parking at church

  • Parking within 250m

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • St Bartholomew's tide festivities (usually August Bank Holiday).

  • Church of England

  • Repair Grant, £10,000, 2018

  • Our Repair Grants funded urgent repair work to help keep churches open.

  • Project Development Grant, £6,000, 2016

  • Our Project Development Grants funded churches developing building projects to help keep churches open.

  • Repair Grant, £10,000, 2009

  • Our Repair Grants funded urgent repair work to help keep churches open.

Contact information

ShropshireTONGStBartholomew(draak1702CC-BY-SA2.0)1 Draak1702

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