History

Tonbridge School was founded in 1553 by Sir Andrew Judde, a distinguished member of the Worshipful Company of Skinners, which assumed the governance of the School after Judde’s death. Judde left property in London as an endowment for the school.

Tonbridge occupies an extensive site of about 150 acres in north Tonbridge. The main buildings of the present school date from the second half of the nineteenth century, but there has been much further building in more recent years, including the magnificent restoration, completed in 1995, of the Edwardian Chapel, which had been severely damaged by fire. Its superb 4-manual organ, built by Marcussen of Denmark, is widely regarded as one of the finest instruments in the country.

For about 300 years, from 1553, the number of pupils at the school remained below a hundred. This number increased from 83 in 1843 to 447 by 1900.

A total of 415 Old Tonbridgians died in the First World War and 301 in the Second World War.

Numbers in 2018 stand at 787, of whom 486 are boarders: the school has seven boarding houses and five day houses. Whereas many other schools have become co-educational, Tonbridge has retained its all boy constituency and is now one of the very few single sex boarding schools in the country.

New subjects have been introduced into the curriculum in the last thirty years, such as computing and design technology, while opportunities for involvement in music, art and drama have greatly increased. The traditional team sports of cricket and rugby are now supported by a much wider choice, and an iconic sports centre enhances the superb outdoor sports facilities. The school has also opened itself out to the wider world with greater emphasis on community involvement, green initiatives and sponsorship of The Marsh Academy at New Romney.

The Master and Wardens of the Skinners' Company remain the trustees of the school, though in the last ten years an independent Board of Governors has taken on responsibility for the governance.

Recent Headmasters of Tonbridge School

School clock set in warm coloured stone tower.

J.Priory 2018-
T.H.P. Haynes 2005-2018
J.M. Hammond 1990-2005
C.H.D. Everett 1975-1989
R.M. Ogilvie 1970-1975
M. McCrum 1962-1970
Revd. L.H. Waddy 1949-1962
E.E.A. Whitworth 1939-1949
H.N.P. Sloman 1922-1939
C. Lowry 1907-1922
Revd. C.C. Tancock 1898-1907
Revd. J. Wood 1890-1898
Revd. T.B. Rowe 1875-1890
Revd. J.I. Welldon 1843-1875

Bibliography

S. Rivington - A History of Tonbridge School 1869
D.C. Somervell - A History of Tonbridge School 1947
H. Stokoe (ed) - Tonbridge School and the Great War 1923
H.B. Orchard - A Look at The Head and the Fifty1991
D.R. Walsh - A Duty to Serve: Tonbridge School and the 1939-45 War 2011