Tong 2020 Appeal

Tong Church 2020 appeal

Tong Twenty Twenty: How will it be then?

Arthur Vernon roof boss, Vernon Chantry

Tong is a beautiful, largely fifteenth century church, often called “The Westminster Abbey of the Midlands.”

It was built on the site of a previous church so it can safely be said that the worship of Almighty God has taken place there for between 600 and 1000 years and it has survived Reformation, Civil War and more recently spates of vandalism as well as being the setting for the death of Dickens’ heroine, Little Nell.

What stories the building could tell! What faithful people, saints and sinners, have bent the ear of Our Lord. “If these stones could speak...”

Tong Twenty Twenty: our vision for restoring St Bartholomew’s

Looking ahead to the year 2020, Tong Church Council is anxious to preserve this wonderful building - not only for the church community which meets there week by week, but also for future generations as a place of pilgrimage for those who love beautiful and ancient things and especially those sacred spaces which are redolent of prayer and holiness.

The congregation and village people have lovingly kept abreast of repairs throughout the twentieth century, some of them extensive, but there has been no major restoration or refurbished infrastructure since 1892, that’s 124 years ago! While the regular congregation may be relatively small, the church is open to visitors every day; last year, more than 4,000 people passed through the doors - many drawn by its picturesque setting, its awe-inspiring Perpendicular Gothic architecture and unusual heritage features, or because it holds special family & ancestry connections. It is a popular venue for weddings, baptisms and family rites of passage, and for music concerts.

On a fine day, it is a favourite spot for cyclists to picnic, for treasure-hunters to stop by to “tick off” Little Nell’s grave, or for researching the ancestors. And we want to keep it so with a commitment to have the church open every day till late afternoon.

By the year 2020, we would like the church to be a place not only for inspiration, reflection, worship, learning... but also a comfortable and welcoming place to visit, to celebrate and to linger and appreciate its uniqueness.

Urgent External Works

Roof gargoyle

The first phase of restoration will tackle the most urgent and essential repairs to secure the main fabric. In practical terms, this means:

Significant Heritage Restoration Works

Restoration and heritage conservation works are long overdue. These include:

smiley faces in chancel screen

Important Improvements to Facilities

Twenty-first century improvements are required to ensure the church will continue to be used as a place of worship and a warm & welcoming focal point for the local community:

Telling the Story

St Bartholomew’s has a thrilling story to tell - of grand visions, royal patronage, political intrigue, piety, private aggrandisement, religious ‘heresy’, great literary connections and minor fabrications. There are many colourful historical characters associated with the church and Tong Castle (now destroyed, lying under the path of the M54), and the few remains of Tong College still in the grounds, ‘Tong Tours’ have proved very popular; but we could do so much more to bring the church’s story - past and present - to life, especially for those coming from across the globe, and to help younger generations appreciate all the building stands for.

Our intention is to:

Tong church nave
© Copyright R.J.L. Smith, Much Wenlock

Tong ‘2020 Vision’ Appeal Target

To realise our 2020 Vision, St Bartholomew’s will need to raise £600,000. Tong PCC has brought together a professional team and launched a major appeal to raise funding through government and heritage lottery sources, private donations, charitable grants, sponsorships and community fund-raising.

A major boost to the appeal has come from a £100,000 grant promised from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Fund , so that roof works can begin in early January 2017. During 2016, some £25,000 has been raised from community events and pledges from Lichfield Diocese and Shropshire Historic Churches Trust . A major application to the Heritage Lottery Fund has been submitted to cover specific urgent repairs.

How you can help

Detail of foundress tomb

In past centuries, St Bartholomew’s Church benefited from particular donors, whose generous financial support has left a visible legacy in stone and alabaster for future generations to enjoy! We invite you to consider leaving your mark on the story of Tong Church by contributing your support towards this once-in-a-lifetime restoration project. All gifts and personal dedications will be publicly acknowledged, unless otherwise requested.

There are several ways in which you can help:

Lion at feet  of foundress tomb Tong 2020 Appeal

Further information

Contact: Revd. Preb. Pippa Thorneycroft on email:
or visit the church web site
Make a donation via the JustGiving web page
Thank you.

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