Discovering Tong: Its History, Myths and Curiosities
by Robert Jeffery

The small village of Tong 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 by a community.

Discovering Tong book Stanley tomb panel

Drawing on various resources - oral tradition, published material as well as local and national archives - the author builds up a 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 a large number of illustrations some of which have not been seen before and some that have been specially commissioned.

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 became Dean of Worcester Cathedral and then 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.

Book Reviews

“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


Discovering Tong is a book which tells the stories about a village in rural England. It brings together all the known historical information about Tong, Salop some of which has only recently become available. The book has 54 illustrations, several are reproduced for the first time (including 6 in colour and 3 maps). The book is the most comprehensive book on the subject in the last hundred years. It comprises the following chapters, click on the heading link for more information about each section.

Foreword by the late Very Revd Dr Alan Webster, KCVO, Dean Emeritus of St Paul's.

Prologue introduces the author, the Very Revd Dr Robert Jeffery, Dean Emeritus of Worcester and former vicar of Tong.

Historical Tong

1 The Story of Tong Introduces the village and recounts what visitors have said about Tong.

2 Tong Castle History of Tong Castle 1100-1760.

3 George Durant comes to Tong Background of George Durant and the new Tong Castle built in the 1760s.

4 Beati Qui Durant The amazing Durant legacy at Tong.

5 The Decline and Fall of Tong Castle How Tong Castle fell into disrepair and ruin.

Ecclesiastical Tong

stall face

6 Tong College The College associated with Tong Church 1408-1535.

7 Tong Church The magnificent fifteenth century church of St Bartholomew at Tong.

8 The Treasures of Tong The various valuable heirlooms of the Church.

9 Of Clerics and Clerks The priests and clerks who served the community over the centuries.

Village Life

10 Living in Tong Each house in the village of Tong has its own unique story to tell.

11 Scenes from Village Life Insights into the life of the close-knit community at Tong.

Literary Tong

choir stall bird

12 The Shakespeare Connection Unravelling the story of William Shakespeare's epitaph on the Stanley tomb in the Church.

13 Some Victorian Curiosities The strange story of Charles Dickens and Little Nell at Tong (as well as other Victorian authors).

Epilogue in which the author collects his thoughts about Tong and what makes it so special.

There are eight Appendices covering a variety of topics:
The Owners of Tong Castle;
Some further notes on the Durant Family;
Valuation of Tong Estate 1763;
List of Wardens of Tong College;
List of Parochial Clergy;
List of Tong School teachers;
List of guide Books to Tong Church;
Notes on the National Census Figures 1801-1901.
Followed by a comprehensive Bibliography and Index.

To find out more about Tong please buy a copy of the Discovering Tong book; the profits from the sale of the book will go towards maintaining Tong Church.

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