Tonbridge School

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Not to be confused with Tonbridge Grammar School.
Tonbridge School
Tonbridge School Logo.png
Motto Deus Dat Incrementum
(God Giveth the Increase)
Established 1553
Type Public school
Independent day and boarding
Headmaster Timothy Haynes
Founder Sir Andrew Judd
Location Tonbridge
England Coordinates: 51°12′00″N 0°16′35″E / 51.200070°N 0.276450°E / 51.200070; 0.276450
DfE URN 118959 Tables
Students c. 800
Gender Boys
Ages 13–18
Houses 7 boarding, 5 day

Black, white and maroon

Publication The Tonbridgian
Former pupils Old Tonbridgians

Tonbridge School is an independent day and boarding school for boys in Tonbridge, Kent, England, founded in 1553 by Sir Andrew Judd (sometimes spelled Judde). It is a member of the Eton Group, and has close links with the Worshipful Company of Skinners, one of the oldest London livery companies. It is a public school in the British sense of the term.

There are currently around 800 boys in the school, aged between 13 and 18. The school occupies a site of 150 acres (607,000 m²) on the edge of Tonbridge, and is largely self-contained, though the boarding and day houses are spread through the town. Since its foundation the school has been rebuilt twice on the original site. Tonbridge's fees are among the highest of all the independent schools in Britain in terms of Boarding, at £35,163 per year, compared to Eton's £34,434 or Harrow's £34,590.[1][2][3]

The Headmaster since 2005 is Tim Haynes, previously Headmaster of Monmouth School and Deputy Master at St Paul's School.

The school is one of only a very few of the ancient public schools not to have turned co-educational, and there are no plans for this to happen.



The school was founded in 1553 by Andrew Judde, being granted it's Royal Charter by Edward VI. The first headmaster was the Revd. John Proctor, a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. From 1553 until his death in 1558 Judde was the sole governor of the school, and, at some time, he framed the statutes that were to govern it for the next 270 years. On Judde's death, the school was passed to the Skinners' Company, after a dispute with Judde's business partner Henry Fisher. For the next hundred years few details of the school survive apart from rare records in the Skinners' Company books. Headmaster Proctor died in 1558, and was succeeded by a series of headmasters, usually clergymen and always classical scholars. They included the Revd. William Hatch (1587-1615) the first Old Tonbridgian Headmaster. According to the Skinners' records, the Revd. Michael Jenkins (1615-24) was appointed because 'he was the only one who turned up'. During his time as Headmaster the school was received a series of generous endowments from Thomas Smythe, the first Governor of the East India Company and son of Andrew Judde's daughter Alice. [4]

Post-war years[edit]

Lawrence Waddy took over as Headmaster in 1949. The Tonbridge he inherited was still a largely Victorian institution; fagging and ritual caning were still in place, and sport was considered more important than academia. Over the next 40 years personal fagging was abolished (ending in 1965), and the intellectual life of the school was revitalised (particularly under the Headmastership of Michael McCrum). McCrum, headmaster 1962-70, abolished the right of senior boys to administer corporal punishment, taking over for himself the task of administering routine canings. 1st-Year Socials were set up with nearby girls' schools such as Benenden School and Roedean School. Boaters (known at the school as "barges"), straw hats worn by boys, were no longer compulsory uniform after a major town-gown fight in the 1970s. By the 1990s the school was larger, richer and more prominent than ever. The Headmaster until 2005 was Martin Hammond.

In 2005 the school was one of fifty leading independent schools found guilty of running an illegal price-fixing cartel, exposed by The Times, which had allowed them to drive up fees for thousands of parents.[5] Each school was required to pay a nominal penalty of £10,000 and all agreed to make ex-gratia payments totalling three million pounds into a trust designed to benefit pupils who attended the schools during the period in respect of which fee information was shared.[6] Jean Scott, the head of the Independent Schools Council, said that independent schools had always been exempt from anti-cartel rules applied to business, were following a long-established procedure in sharing the information with each other, and that they were unaware of the change to the law (on which they had not been consulted). She wrote to John Vickers, the OFT director-general, saying, "They are not a group of businessmen meeting behind closed doors to fix the price of their products to the disadvantage of the consumer. They are schools that have quite openly continued to follow a long-established practice because they were unaware that the law had changed."[7]

A section of the main school building.


The Good Schools Guide described the school as academically "Truly excellent," noting that "In 2008, the average GCSE candidate achieved 4A*s and 6As. 87 per cent got all A*/A and 98 per cent got all A*/A/B."[8]


There are seven boarding houses and five day houses at Tonbridge each containing around sixty boys. In order of foundation:

  • School House
  • Judde House
  • Park House
  • Hill Side
  • Parkside
  • Ferox Hall
  • Manor House
  • Welldon House
  • Smythe House
  • Whitworth
  • Cowdrey House
  • Oakeshott House

Each house is run by a housemaster with help from a deputy housemaster, two matrons and three or four tutors.


The school has produced a number of international rugby players throughout the history of rugby union. In 1871, in the first ever international rugby match, Tonbridge was represented by two players, J.E. Bentley and J.H. Luscombe. These players were also members of a team called the Gipsies Football Club, a London-based rugby football club for Old Tonbrigians founded in 1868. This club produced four other internationals including England captain Francis Luscombe, and was also one of the founding members of the Rugby Football Union.[9]

Head of School[edit]

The Head of School i.e. the head Praeposter is allowed to graze his sheep on the Head (the 1st XI cricket pitch) which is next to the main buildings.[10] He is also allowed to grow a beard and historically was permitted to carry a sword.[10] In the past only praepostors were allowed to wear coloured shirts (as opposed to plain white) and have brown shoes.[10]

Notable staff[edit]

Notable Old Tonbridgians[edit]

Former pupils are known at the school as Old Tonbridgians (OTs) and can join an organisation called the Old Tonbridgians' Society.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tonbridge School Fees". Tonbridge School. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Eton College Fees". Eton College. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Harrow School Fees". Harrow School. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Orchard, Barry. A Look at the Head and the Fifty: A History of Tonbridge School. James & James. pp. 6–14. 
  5. ^ Halpin, Tony (10 November 2005). "Independent schools face huge fines over cartel to fix fees". The Times (London). 
  6. ^ "OFT names further trustees as part of the independent schools settlement" (Press release). Office of Fair Trading. 21 December 2006. 
  7. ^ "Private schools send papers to fee-fixing inquiry". The Daily Telegraph (London). 1 March 2004. Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Marshall, Francis, et al. (1892). Football; the Rugby Union game. London: Cassell. OCLC 13422741. 
  10. ^ a b c
  11. ^ "Tim Haynes - New Headmaster from September 2005". 7 September 2004. 
  12. ^ "Sport's lessons for life". 11 October 2012. 
  13. ^ "The score so far". Times Educational Supplement. 11 May 2008. 
  14. ^ Boarding Houses - Ferox Hall

Further reading[edit]

  • Hoole, G.P. (1985). A Tonbridge miscellany. Tonbridge School. OCLC 19671527. 
  • Orchard, Barry (1991). A Look at the Head and the Fifty. London: James & James. ISBN 978-0-907383-25-3. 
  • Rivington, Septimus (1898). The history of Tonbridge School from its foundation in 1553 to the present date. London: Rivingtons. OCLC 18236326. 
  • Somervell, D.C. (1947). A history of Tonbridge School. London: Faber & Faber. OCLC 11852252. 
  • Hughes-Hughes, W O (1886). The Register of Tonbridge School from 1820 to 1886. Tonbridge: Hughes-Hughes. 

External links[edit]