DiCamillo Companion

Tong Castle

  • Earlier Houses: There was at least one earlier house on, or near, the site of the castle.

    House & Family History: The famous (or infamous) Mrs. Fitzherbert, the morganatic wife of George IV, was born in the red room at Tong Castle on July 26, 1756. Christened Maria Anne Smythe, she was the eldest child of Walter Smythe, who was renting Tong from the 2nd Duke of Kingston. It was this same duke who sold Tong Castle in 1760 for £40,000 (approximately £6 million in 2020 values using the real price commodity index) to George Durant I, who began a rebuilding and restoration of the castle. In 1855 George Durant IV sold Tong Castle, together with 3,000 acres, to the 2nd Earl of Bradford for approximately £190,000. The Earls of Bradford never lived in the castle (they wanted the estate, which adjoined their own at Weston Park), so Tong Castle was let to the Hartley family. After the 1909 death of Mrs. Hartley (widow of John Hartley), the castle, which was already unstable, was allowed to fall into ruin. The unsafe building was finally blown up on July 18, 1954 by the Field Squadron Royal Engineers. Today's M54 motorway cuts directly through the site of the once-famous castle.

    Collections: The contents of Tong Castle were sold in 1909, after it was vacated by the Hartley family.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: There are a number of gatepiers, walls, and gates, all listed Grade II, that are extant, including Tong Lodge on the Ruckley Road. The latter is attributed to Capability Brown, while the other architectural remnants appear to have been created under the patronage of George Durant II.

    Chapel & Church: Tong Church, which still stands, is often called "the Westminster Abbey of the provinces" because of its extraordinary collection of funerary monuments.

  • Architect: Lancelot Brown

    Date: 1760s
    Designed: Landscaping and Tong Lodge
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
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  • John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. II, p. 51, 1853.

    John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: 2.S. Vol. II, 1825.

    Country Life: C, 578, 1946.

  • Title: Country Houses of Shropshire, The
    Author: Williams, Gareth
    Year Published: 2021
    Reference: pgs. 642-646, 648
    Publisher: Suffolk: The Boydell Press
    ISBN: 9781783275397
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: England's Lost Houses From the Archives of Country Life
    Author: Worsley, Giles
    Year Published: 2002
    Reference: pg. 8
    Publisher: London: Aurum Press
    ISBN: 1854108204
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade II

    Park Listed: Destroyed

  • Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSES: Roger de Montgomery, 11th century. de Belmais family, 12th century. la Zochue family, 13th century. de Harcourt family, 13th century. SEATED AT CASTLE: Fulk Pembrugge, 14th century. Sir Richard Vernon, until 1451; Sir Harry Vernon, 16th century. Sir Thomas Stanley, 1565-1603. Thomas Harries, 17th century. William Pierrepoint, until 1678; Gervase Pierrepoint, 1678-1715; Evelyn Pierrepont, 1st Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull and 5th Earl of Kingston-upon-Hull, 1715-26; Evelyn Pierrepont, 2nd Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull, 1726-60. Walter Smythe (as tenant of the Duke of Kingston), 18th century. George Durant I, 1760-80; George Durant II, 1780-1844; Durant family here until 1855. George Bridgeman, 2nd Earl of Bradford, 1855-65; Orlando Bridgeman, 3rd Earl of Bradford, 1865-98. John Hartley (as tenant of the Earl of Bradford), 1856-84; Hartley family here until 1909.

    Current Ownership Type: Unknown

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Ruinous

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No