Tong Castle, (also known as Tong), Telford, England
Record Id: 6711
This site is NOT open to public.
Brief description of site
There are extensive 18th- and 19th-century gardens at Tong, on an estate with medieval origins. Capability Brown is implicated in the redesign.
Brief history of site
There have been a castle and associated park at Tong since the medieval period, but Capability Brown built a new house (now lost) and grounds in the mid-18th century. Further embellishments were made in the 19th century.
Address: Tong, Shropshire, TF11 8PP
Historical County: Shropshire
|OS Landranger Map Sheet Number:||162||Grid Ref:||SJ792069|
Form of site: park
Purpose of site: Ornamental
Site first created: Before 1273
Main period of development: Medieval
Survival: Part: standing remains
Durant's garden buildings are quite fully documented, and included ideas as diverse as pyramid structures and Indian themes; the parts coming together to form a whole most notable for its eccentricity. Certainly surviving is the Egyptian Aviary at Vauxhall Farm, while his 'pulpit' modelled on the example from Shrewsbury Abbey, and acoustic arches made of whale bones appear to have been lost. Soon after his death, Durant's own sons demolished an octagonal cottage on an island in Norton Mere. Detailed survey would be required to ascertain what else of Durant's numerous follies has survived decay and the construction of the M54. Road-builiding certainly led to destruction of the standing remains of Tong Castle.
External web site link: http://www.lostheritage.org.uk/houses/lh_shropshire_tongcastle_info_gallery.html
The medieval castle at Tong was replaced in 1765 by a gothick building by Capability Brown, itself demolished in 1965. Tong is important as it represents Lancelot 'Capability' Brown's first work in Shropshire. The castle and grounds were bought in 1764 by George Durant (wealthy after experiences in the Caribbean), and he began to employ Brown the following year. The degree of Brown's impact is unclear, but he returned over several years, and by the 1780s the grounds had been considerably reworked. In particular, the formal landscape of wilderness and avenues was replaced with pastoral vision, with two great new lakes.
There was already a park in the parish by 1273. In 1577, a 'Tong park' lay east of the castle, and a park is also recorded in 1695. In the early-18th century, there was a wilderness with straight allees, but this was lost when the park was enlarged at the time of the castle's rebuilding in 1765. It may have been at that time (and perhaps also by the hand of Capability Brown) that serpentine pools were created around the western part of the park. Certainly they were present by 1808.
Probably also by Brown, and dating back to about 1765, was Convent Lodge, south of Tong village, in the gothick style. Nearby is a wall pulpit of around 1765, again by Brown, and probably inspired by the pulpit at Shrewsbury Abbey. A similar structure stood in Tong Norton until around 1890.
Embellishment of the park began at the start of the 19th century. Of Tong's owner, George Durant (son of Brown's employer), it was said 'His eccentric character is indicated by the quaint buildings, monuments with hieroglyphics, and inscriptions alike to deceased friends, eternity, and favourite animals, which were then to be found on every part of the demesne'.
People associated with this site
Designer: Lancelot Brown (born 1716 died 06/02/1783)
Feature created: Before 1765
Feature created: 1765 to 1808
Several serpentine pools.
Feature created: 1800 to 1899
Multiple follies, including pyramids, aviaries, and a pulpit.
Feature created: 1765
Organisations associated with this site
Sources of information
Baugh, R. Map of Shropshire (1808)
Stroud, D. Capability Brown, (London: Faber, 1975) p. 148.
Headley, G. and Meulenkamp, W. Follies, (1990) p.192-5.
Jones, B., Follies and Grottoes (London: Constable, 1974) p125-7, 186.
Stamper, P. Historic Parks and Gardens of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Books, 1996), p. 24, 30, 46, 53,,73-4, 77, 115, pls 15, 37, 24, figs 38, 51).
Anon 1984. List of Historic Buildings: Bridgnorth District, Sherrifhales etc., pp77-8.
Robert Baugh's map of Shropshire: An Introduction
Saxton, C. Map of Shropshire (1577)
Staffordshire Historical Collections, Vol I, p. 54.