St Bartholomew's Church at Tong turned 600 years old in 2010. This notable landmark is often described as ‘The Westminster Abbey of the Midlands’.
The church appears in Simon Jenkins’ Thousand Best Churches in England ➚ and is one of the very few Grade I listed churches in Shropshire.
St Bartholomew's Church is also recognised as the setting for the closing chapters of Charles Dickens’ “The Old Curiosity Shop”.
Most importantly it remains a thriving focus of activity in the parish and a much-loved place of worship.
The church is open every day from approximately 9.00 am till late afternoon (summer) or when it gets dark (winter) . The church is opened and locked by volunteers so these times are approximate and subject to change.
To make a donation go to our Donate page. We have put together a collection of pictures to celebrate the church with an online guide letting you explore the many interesting features of the church, and a slide show of the whole picture collection.
Buying a copy of the Discovering Tong book will also contribute funds to support the maintenance of the church.
However, despite the significance of its heritage, Tong is a tiny parish with less than 200 inhabitants. Thus the responsibility of caring for this great building is laid upon a very small group of people.
As well as being a significant example of early fifteenth century architecture, the Church contains the tombs of many members of the Vernon family.
It has retained numerous original features including 16 Choir Stalls with misericords; the original Chancel screens and pews; a fine 16th century Chantry Chapel and the tomb to Sir Thomas Stanley with an epitaph written for him by William Shakespeare.
Its unusually shaped tower contains, among others, The Great Bell of Tong which is the largest bell in Shropshire.
But a building of this sort needs regular on-going care, and the few need the help of the many to sustain it. Assistance has come from English Heritage who recognise the significance of the building - but a significant remainder must be met by donations.
Over the past 30 years, the people of Tong have raised £40,000, money which has been used for work on:
We face the urgent challenge of funding:
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