Tong Village Self-guided Walk
Whatever their reasons for visiting Tong Village many people are unaware of the fascinating history of the village, many facets of which are still visible today.
There is no better place to start a pleasant stroll through this historic conservation area than the Tong Village Hotel, which was built as the new vicarage around 1866. Later it became a private residence called The Pastures and was occupied most recently until its conversion to a hotel.
On leaving the hotel and turning right towards the village the next place of interest is Tong Hall which was home of the Tempest family for nearly 400 years. The Hall is one of the oldest brick buildings in the Bradford area and its setting at the end of the long drive is imposing amongst the mature tress and the rhododendron bushes.
The Hall was built in 1702 and was occupied by the Tempests until 1941. It has since been used as a museum and as a hall of residence for Bradford University before becoming a private business park as it is today.The front entrance houses a sundial fanlight above the door, showing the four seasons and was fashioned in a unique style by the artist Henry Gyles (1645 - 1709). The Tempest family which owned the estate of Tong were the benefactors of Tong Village and were responsible for building the school and the present church of St James'.
Leaving the driveway to Tong Hall and turning left, follow the fence, to the main gate of the church of St James. On the left hand side of the entrance is the old stone mounting block of those arriving on horseback and on the right are the stocks. These stocks were probably last used in 1860 when an appropriately named gentleman, John Gambles Esquire, was sentenced to six hours in them for gambling.
Entering the church grounds one is faced by the clock tower. The present church was built in 1727 but the Norman Arch inside reminds us of the earlier church on this site dating back to around 1170 AD. Inside interesting features to note are the three-tier pulpit, the box style pews and the Tempest family pew with its fireplace. Remains of an earlier church were found during a major restoration in 1980 indicating that the site has been one of Christian worship for over 1000 years.
Walking around the outside of the church it is easy to locate an interesting selection of headstones and also the private burial ground of the Tempests, consecrated in 1900. The oldest grave-stone visible is that of Joseph Illingworth Esquire (1634). One headstone tells of a young man killed by highwaymen.
On leaving the church grounds and again turning left, the building on the same side of the lane is known as Lantern Cottage, once the property of the Knights Hospitallers. The cottage is so named, because of the carved lantern on the corner of the roof signifying it was free from the payment of all titles and taxes. Behind the cottage is "The Old Vicarage" used by the clergy to 1860. Attached to the lantern cottage is a now private residence, which was once a public house known as "The Griffin".
Lower down on the opposite side is the Village Green from which leads a public footpath to Drighlington. Standing adjacent to the village green is the building which originally was the schoolroom and school house, built by Sir George Tempest in 1736, for the education of the poor children of Tong. The schoolroom is now used as a community centre.
At the south east corner of the cricket field, at the junction of Keeper Lane, by the stream, stands the village pump and "Pinfold". The Pinfold is a small enclosure once used for impounding stray animals until their owners could collect them.
The old water pump dates from 1820, the sinking of the well having begun at noon on Thursday 12 October 1820. This work for "the better supplying the village with water" was completed for the sum of sixteen pounds four shillings and sixpence (£16.22 ½ pence). The "Forge" bungalow at the junction with Keeper Lane is a visible reminder that a Blacksmith's was here at this central location.
Keeper Lane was one of the main pack-horse routes during and following the Middle Ages and was eventually paved in the 17th century. It is still reasonable repair and for those (fitter types) wishing to explore further afield it offers an easy to follow, if slightly steep, route to the interesting Moravian settlement at Fulneck, which has its own distinctive history and museum.
Walking up Keeper Lane from the village, on the right, is the Manor House, which is not easy to see. This picturesque house, now a private dwelling, dates in part from the early 17th century and is a historical, listed building. It has been said that at one time the Manor House was used as a convalescent home for the monks of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds. Sir George Tempest occupied the house for some time after the original Tong Hall burned down, during the building of the present hall. The old hall was situated in an area known as "The Flatts" on the opposite side of the Keeper Lane and is shown on the old map.