Tong Church latest news

Covid 19 – the latest information. 

At Tong we will do our best to have the church open each day from 9.00 to 5.00 for individuals to come and visit.  The building will be disinfected each evening.

We are open again for our regular services at the usual times… until we are told otherwise.  For those who do not wish to attend a service you can usually watch a video of the service, available from:

St Andrew’s Church, Shifnal web site:

Or directly from the Church’s YouTube channel:

When visiting the church

When the church is open we welcome all visitors and hope you will enjoy the peace and beauty of our church again. You are at liberty to take photos.

Only the main door will be open with sanitiser available.  Most of the pews will be roped off but two will be accessible to sit in.

Unfortunately all the hymn books, Bibles, tourist literature and toys will have been removed; the Visitors’ Book too, and we especially hope that everyone will sign in on Facebook instead and leave any messages.

We ask all visitors to be very careful about what they touch and there will be anti-bacterial wipes available to wipe down for people who come after, but despite all these restrictions we hope you will enjoy all there is to offer.

There have been two weddings postponed during the past three months and a Baptism. However funerals with limited numbers are now a possibility within the building.

This information will be updated as rules become clearer.

May News, 2021

Please note.  Each month’s news is prepared well in advance.
If events do not pan out as indicated we do not edit the news page to reflect such changes.


COVID and all that 

We haven’t made any plans for the summer though we are feeling more optimistic that we may be able to do so. Anything extra to the above Diary will be announced on the Website. (

PRINCE PHILIP, the Duke of Edinburgh

The news has broken on the nation as I prepare this copy of the magazine that Prince Philip has died. By the time of publication we will all know more, but I pay tribute to a great man who has had to sublimate his own ambitions to supporting the institution of the Monarchy and yet still has managed to be his own man. Some years ago when I became a Chaplain to the Queen, I was introduced to him and understood why he had the reputation of making uncalled-for remarks as he always had to play second fiddle. The Queen had all the straight-forward questions: “ Where do you come from?” etc and the Duke had to think of something else for the ten thousandth time – so sometimes with his good sense of humour, it came off the wall!

I admire his dedication and pray that he will find his Maker has a good sense of humour too and that they can be comfortable together.

We hold Queen Elizabeth and all their children, grand-children and great-grandchildren in our prayers.


Ascension Day has rather dropped off the radar in recent years. At school we always had a day off to mark one of the Church’s great annual feasts. I think the decline in importance is because the picture language of St. Luke (the last 3 verses of St. Luke’s gospel and the first chapter of Acts) got muddled up with space travel in the twentieth century. In the first century it was a way of saying that Jesus left earth to return to the glory of heaven. He couldn’t hang around with the disciples for ever after the first Easter; just long enough to convince them that he had truly risen from death and because of his resurrection, they too would go on to be with him in the life following this one. And so will we. No wonder Peter and the gang were so excited that they went off to tell the world the Good News. But first they had to wait until Jesus’s spirit filled them to give them enough endurance, (as well as the gift of public speaking, ) to cope with manifold dangers and untimely and often unpleasant deaths. We celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost which each of us is given at Baptism and Confirmation, as well as at other times. (One of my friends was zapped by the Holy Spirit when she was hoovering! She went on to be a fine Christian.) It is a gift we can pray for.

There is a lovely carving on the choir stalls at Tong just to the right inside the screen of the disciples looking upwards to heaven and Jesus being taken up. The carving has been touched so many times over the last 600 years that most of Jesus’s head has worn away.


April News, 2021

Please note.  Each month’s news is prepared well in advance.
If events do not pan out as indicated we do not edit the news page to reflect such changes.

Hoping for clarity

We are wondering how soon we can present you with a fuller diary and are watching the ‘rules’ with interest.

Tong Tours: 

The first Saturday of the month at 11.00 throughout the summer. Normally you can just turn up, but for the April one, please contact Pippa first in order to monitor admissions. Facemasks and Social Distancing obligatory.

Video Stories

Very Big Thanks to Geoff Ward and Simon Bates for producing 6 short films about Tong Church. They are “Overview” “ Lady Isabel de Pembrugge”. “ Henry Vernon”, “The Golden Chapel” “The Great Bell” “The Stanley Monument” (which includes the Shakespeare epitaphs) and “The Dickens Connection.” They are available on our You-tube channel, and via our website via the menu at the top of the page (thank you too to David Alcock who looks after all this).  In addition they will shortly be available through QR codes in church as well.

Reflections on Age

Growing Old Earlier in my life I thought the natural order of events was that human beings, like dogs and other animals, just grew old and died. Now I am standing on the threshold, I have had to revise my views, because I have discovered how complicated it all is. I look round at the people I know, some no longer in this world, and behold a huge variety of ways we disintegrate. Everyone wants to die peacefully in their bed, preferably when they are fast asleep so they know nothing about it. I have long since concluded that that doesn’t happen. I have attended various bedsides as a life ebbs away and the dying person has been waiting, as have the relatives, for days, weeks or even months. Mostly the person has come to terms with what is happening though some have already slipped into unconsciousness. One dying lady was quite amusing, she wanted us to go and have lunch so that she could pass into the next world in peace without us round her bed, and after lunch she said very crossly when we returned “I’m still here!” But she got her wish later that afternoon.

Before all that though, I contemplate the possibilities of a stroke, heart attack, cancer, Covid, Alzheimers and don’t know which one will be served up; none of the above maybe, but a car crash, a knife attack or drowning? The possibilities are endless and as I ruminate upon them I realise I have no choice. I have already outlived my father by twenty years and my mother died, very old, after more than a decade living with Alzheimers, my least favourite option.

During Lent we have walked the way of the cross and at Easter will be surprised again that the pain of the world is not the last word. So, disintegrate though we must, I know that there will be a new dawn, more love and a homecoming and to get there I will walk on in trust.

Pippa Thorneycroft

March News, 2021

Please note.  Each month’s news is prepared well in advance.
If events do not pan out as indicated we do not edit the news page to reflect such changes.


We were really disappointed to find that someone had been into church and helped themselves to our tablet showing the films that Simon Bates and Geoff Ward made for us, as well as spoiling the brand new woodwork of the display cabinets by the South Door which are not even in use yet. What a sad country we live in. We have yet to see the footage from the CCTV cameras. It may sound pious, but once I recovered from the upset and the hours of work needed to inform the Insurance, the Police, the contractors, the people who lock up etc, I felt the only thing I could do was pray for the person that one day they may know the love of God and not be so fixated on ‘things’, presumably which will be sold for a pittance to sustain a craving of one kind or another.


Every year, once the retirement age has been past, clergy have to renew their licence to operate, and every three years that will only be granted if some serious safeguarding training has taken place. 2021 was the year for me and it may be reassuring for you to know that even in lockdown there were two training sessions, 4 written pieces to be submitted beforehand, some work to do between lessons and another written piece afterwards which may be followed up (randomly) by a conversation with the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer.

We also had to watch the BBC Documentary, ‘Exposed – the Churches’ Darkest Secret’ about how the Police finally closed in on the paedophile who became the Bishop of Gloucester following decades of his abuse which had been largely disbelieved by the hierarchy. However during my life I have also come across innocent people who have been falsely accused and who have suffered months, if not years, of misery, unable to see their children or grandchildren and suspended from their job, only to find that there has been no case to answer. It is terribly traumatic for whole families and difficult to pick up the pieces afterwards. And yet I have also counselled a young woman who eventually took her own life because of the abuse she had suffered and continued to suffer at the hands of her father. It needs the wisdom of Solomon and patient listening to be able to extract the truth about guilt or innocence from any reported case which may not be sexual abuse, but sustained and intense bullying or domestic violence aimed at the young or the elderly . In any circumstance, zealotry for the cause has no place and I hope the Church is now better equipped than it was when Peter Ball ( and others) were hiding under cover of their cassocks. We cannot be complacent because we have got it so wrong in the past, but at least nowadays every church and like organisation has a Safeguarding Officer and the diocese has people who work full-time in the field giving support and knowing the procedures and steps that should be taken.

Deep Roots in Lent

In these next weeks and months, we are likely to remain under some kind of lockdown or restrictions.
Can we use this time to put down some deep roots for our faith? Many will be feeling frustrated and isolated, so can we come together to support and encourage one another?

Please find below a document detailing many of the things that will be happening this Lent – opportunities to learn, to pray, to share and to give. We hope they give you inspiration and food for thought and prayer.