Black Country Bugle
Queen’s chaplain gives voice to the women of Tong
On Thursday, October 27, at 2.15pm Rev Pippa Thorneycroft, who is minister-in-charge of St Bartholomew’s Church in Tong, will give a talk entitled Women of Tong, Shropshire to the Kidderminster Historical Society.
During lockdown, Rev Pippa decided that since history is usually written by victorious men, she would try and uncover something of the lives of their spouses, by and large lying on the tombs beside them – the church has eight medieval tombs. She also looked at other women connected with Tong who have done interesting things in the 600 years since the present church was built.
One of the last ones was an avowed atheist, but is now buried in the churchyard, the mother of DJ Simon Bates who grew up in Church Farm opposite St Bartholomew’s. Another probably never came to Tong at all but designed and made a substantial Coat of Arms in 1815.
Rev Pippa Thorneycroft grew up locally, the daughter of a Wolverhampton paint manufacturer, and graduated from Exeter University with a degree in French. She married a third generation solicitor in Wolverhampton and has four children and 11 grandchildren.
In 1979 she started to train as a reader in Shifnal church and went on to seek ordination, attending Queen’s College, Birmingham. Women could not be priests at that time so she had to wait till 1994 and soon after that got her first ‘proper’ job as ‘vicar’ (technically priest-incharge) of Shareshill and Featherstone, and later Essington as well, in South Staffordshire. She had additional jobs like “Bishop’s advisor for Women in Ministry,” Rural Dean of Penkridge and, in 2001, Chaplain to HM the Queen, which she describes as the least onerous of the three extra titles, but one which she held until 2014. She retired from full-time parish ministry in 2009 and since then has supplied vacant parishes with “interim ministry,” currently in Tong since 2014.
Her husband became Registrar of Lichfield diocese in 1988 and she notes their complementary interests in the Church of England, saying that her husband “might be speaking to bishops and archdeacons on a daily basis, and I to exprisoners and ex-miners, who lived around us”. It has, she says ,”been a fascinating and enthralling vocation”. As well as Thursday afternoon meetings, which start at 2.15pm, the society also holds meetings on Wednesday evenings, starting at 7.30pm. Both day and evening meetings are held at the Museum of Carpet, Stour Vale Mill, Green Street, Kidderminster DY10 1AZ. The room has seating that can be moved to accommodate preferences for social distancing.
There is a small charge for visitors, who are very welcome.
The meeting following will be an evening meeting on Wednesday, November 9, when Peter Bates will give a talk entitled The Rise and Demise of Timber-framed Buildings.
More information about the Kidderminster Historical Society can be found at www.kdahs.org.