Place:Tong, Shropshire, England


Located inShropshire, England
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Tong is a village and civil parish in Shropshire in England. It is near junction 3 of the M54 motorway (A41) near Albrighton.

The village is remarkable mainly for its church, St Bartholomews, outside of which is the supposed grave of Little Nell, a fictional character in Charles Dickens book, The Old Curiosity Shop. It is thought that Charles Dickens visited Tong church when his grandmother worked at Tong Castle. The Castle (demolished in 1954) stood to the south; its site is now occupied by the M54 motorway.

The 'grave' is thought to have come about because Charles Dickens' novel was serialised and shipped over to America, and as a result, Americans began coming over to England to visit scenes featured in the book. The tourists recognised the references to Tong church from the book and came to view the supposed 'grave', which of course was not there.

However, a verger and village postmaster, George H Bowden (16 August 1856 - May 1943) apparently asked local people to pay for a headstone, forged an entry in the church register of burials (apparently the giveaway was that he used post office ink to do this), and charged people to see the 'grave'. The headstone has been moved from time to time to make way for genuine graves.

A particularly notable feature of St. Bartholomew's is the collection of memorials to the Vernon family and other proprietors of the Tong estate inside the church. St. Bartholomew's was chosen by Simon Jenkins of The Times in 1999 as one of the best 1,000 churches (out of 15,000) in England. He awarded the church, which was mostly rebuilt in 1409, three stars out of a possible five. He refers to the collection of village tombs, the masterpiece of which being that of Richard Vernon, who died in 1451.

In "White-ladies," one of the "Boscobel Tracts" that describe the events of Charles II's escape from England after the Battle of Worcester, there is a statement that Charles, while sheltering at Boscobel House about two miles away, "had the pleasure of a prospect from Tong to Breewood, which satisfied the eyes, and of the famous bells at Tong, which entertained the ear." The bells he heard were the bells of St. Bartholomew's.

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