Excavations of the moated habitation known as “Tonge Castle” were carried out in 1963-4 by the Sittingbourne and Swale Archaeological Group. The rectangular earthwork, previously thought to be a possible motte and bailey castle, is largely destroyed by footpath embankments, hillslipping associated with cultivation, and flooding by a large pond.
Tong is near Teynham, in the marshes, and is the name given to an earthen fortress, said to have been raised by Hengist the Jute, in the fifth century, when he came to settle in East Kent. He found here the Celtic, or Welsh king, Vortigern, who offered him as much land as he could cover with an ox hide ; whereon Hengist cut up a hide into narrow thongs (” tongs”), and so enclosed enough land (the original hide, of land) to build a castle. The place went with the other gifts of territory from the Conqueror to his half-brother Odo, the Bishop, as is stated in the Domesday Survey ; and after Odo’s banishment Tong was held by John de Fiennes (who owned Basing and fifty-five lordships in Hants) in capite for his service at Dover Castle. From his descendant, John, who took the name of de St. John, it was held (22 Edward I.) by Ralph Fitzbernard, whose daughter conveyed it to her husband, Guncelin de Badlesmere, the father of the famous Baron Bartholomew de Badlesmere of Leeds Castle (q.v.), who succeeded to both manor and castle. After his execution, Tong was restored to his son Giles, and passed with this baron’s third sister, Elizabeth, to William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton, after whom it went to the children of his widow by her first husband, Edward Mortimer, and so passed with all the other Mortimer property to Richard, Duke of York, the father of Edward IV. On his death at the battle of Wakefield, Henry VI. gave Tong to one Thomas Browne, .whose son, Sir George Browne, surrendered it to Cicely, Duchess of York, the King’s mother, after whose death it fell to the Crown. Edward VI., in his first year, granted it to Sir Ralph Fane, who sold it to Sir Rowland Clerke, and he parted with it again (5 Mary), after which time the manor and castle passed through the hands of many possessors, generally by purchase.
Nothing remains at the present time of the castle which stood here for so many ages but a high mound, and a deep broad moat surrounding it. Long a Royal demesne, and with a castle sought after and held by the best in the land, all has passed away without any record or history. The ancient stronghold is said to have been the scene of the treacherous murder by Hengist and his Jutes of 300 British chiefs. (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)