The small village of Tong on the English Shropshire-Staffordshire border possesses an immensely rich historical and cultural heritage. 'Discovering Tong' is a book which explores many aspects of Tong's heritage during the past one thousand years. It will particularly appeal to those acquainted with Tong, providing additional insights into the concept of 'place' and the processes by which a sense of identity is formed and sustained in a community.
Drawing on various resources - oral tradition, published material as well as local and national archives - the author builds up detailed picture of the village of Tong and its institutions. Topics include the owners of Tong from 1066-1954, among them, families who played a significant part in English History; the history of Tong College; the 15th century Church of St Bartholomew the astonishing exploits of the Durant family, who came from Worcestershire and owned Tong from 1764-1854; the life, occupations and recreations of the inhabitants; records of the post-Reformation clergy and Tong's surprising literary connections including Shakespeare and Dickens. The book contains maps, specially commissioned illustrations, and others, which have not been seen before.
While Vicar of Tong and Archdeacon of Salop, Robert Jeffery became aware of the power of Tong's past and has used his retirement to document this. Following Tong, he was successively Dean of Worcester and Sub-Dean of Christ Church Oxford.
In his Foreword, the late Very Revd Dr Alan Webster, KCVO, Dean Emeritus of St Paul's, describes the author as “a faithful priest and honest historian” whose “reflections on Tong, a single community, surviving civil war and major religious and cultural changes are a spur in our days of terrorism to reflect on our society's future and our need for radical alignments and local resilience”.
Note: all the profits of the sale of the book will go towards the maintenance of the fabric of Tong Church.
“The book tells us much about English life... and reaches beyond Shropshire. The author concludes that to research the history of a place is not only a historical exercise but a theological one.” Church Times
“This book is in a distinct literary tradition - the delightful and authoritative account of his parish by a long serving clergyman. Think Gilbert White of Selbourne but add architecture.” Journal of the Ancient Monuments Society
“Forget the Archers and the disgraceful little Ruarie. Compared to Tong, Ambridge is semi- monastic. Robert Jeffery has written a history of his old Shropshire parish and it's sensational. George Durant II, squire in the early 19th century, was 'reputed to have a child in every cottage on the Tong estate.' When the details - housemaid seductions, simple homely family hatreds follow, they put the water-colourist's England into pallid perspective. This is a quite brilliant book, 200 pages of minute research showing a county family auditioning for left wing propaganda.” Edward Pearce in Tribune Magazine
“The castle was blown up by the army, Shakespeare wrote an inscription in the church and Little Nell is buried there. It's the weird and wonderful and sometimes mythical world of the Village of Tong as uncovered in a new history by a former vicar.” Shropshire Star
“The book is in the grand tradition of quality local histories- objectively related with love- and contains not a few excellent illustrations by the author's daughter.” Journal of the Methodist Historical Society
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