|Motto||Deus Dat Incrementum
(God Giveth the Increase)
Independent day and boarding
|Founder||Sir Andrew Judd|
|DfE URN||118959 Tables|
|Houses||7 boarding, 5 day|
Black, White and Maroon
|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 specialised 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.
The Good Schools Guide describes the school as "truly excellent". It 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.
Tonbridge's fees are among the highest of all the independent schools in Britain, at £32,824 per year, compared to Eton's £31,812 or Harrow's £30,670. However, a variety of bursaries and scholarships are available to ensure that boys from less well-off backgrounds can also attend.
||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (October 2010)|
Sixteenth Century foundation 
The school was founded in 1553 by Sir Andrew Judd, a local landowner, member of the Skinners Company as well as the East India Company, who was Lord Mayor of London more than once. Judd was also grand-nephew of Archbishop Henry Chichele, the founder of All Souls College, Oxford (a fellow of the college still comes to Skinners' Day at the school each year and a school essay competition is judged by that college). The school was founded under the Letters Patent of King Edward VI, making it one of the oldest of Britain's major public schools.
The Charter ordained that the Governors of the school after the death of the Founder were to be the Worshipful Company of Skinners (known as The Skinners Company), one of the "Great Twelve" City Livery Companies with a history going back some 700 years. It is one of the oldest City Guilds and developed from the medieval trade guild of the furriers: members dressed and traded furs that were used for trimming and lining the garments of the rich.
Unlike many of the great public schools which were founded in this era, Tonbridge was not set up for poor scholars, as shown in the original statutes, in which a clause reads that any boy admitted to the school had to be able to "write competently and to read perfectly both English and Latin". This shows that the school was founded for the sons of the local gentry and 'county families'; few if any boys who lived in or around Tonbridge itself would have qualified for entry.
The company, as the guild is now called, is no longer associated with the craft but continues to contribute to educating the young and helping the older in need, through their almshouses, charities and schools. The Skinners' Company's School for Girls is the fourth school opened by the Skinners' Company. The other schools respectively are the Sir Andrew Judd's free school, now called Tonbridge School (which was never "free" in the sense of payment, but in the sense of being an independent institution; places were only for the aristocracy, gentry and those associated with the Worshipful Company of Skinners), The Skinners' School and Sir Andrew Judd's Commercial School (now called The Judd School).
Sir Andrew, himself a distinguished member of this Company, left property in the City of London and in the parish of St Pancras as an endowment for the school. The income from these estates is at the disposal of the Governors for the general benefit of the Foundation. The memory of Sir Andrew Judd and other benefactors is honoured in an annual Commemoration Service, held on Skinners' Day at the end of the Summer term.
The school remembers its founder every year on Skinners' Day, and also remembers other benefactors such as Sir Thomas Smythe, Judd's grandson, who was governor of the East India Company for fifteen years and who took part in establishing the colony of Virginia; as well as Henry Fisher, who founded a scholarship from Tonbridge to Brasenose College, Oxford; and Sir Thomas White, founder of St John's College, Oxford and Merchant Taylors' School, who gave Tonbridge a fellowship, later converted into a scholarship, at his college.
Many headmasters came and went in the intervening period, including one James Cawthorne (head from 1743 to 1761), a severe disciplinarian, so severe that his ghost is said to have remorselessly haunted the dormitories of the school's various houses for over a century after his death. Tragically in 1761, Cawthorne locked a boy in a cupboard as a punishment before going deer hunting in Knole Park. Whilst he was returning from Knole, Cawthorne was thrown off his horse and suffered fatal injuries. Nobody realised what had happened to the pupil before it was too late and the boy had died.
The British Empire 
The school first began to flourish in the 19th century when it and other public schools supplied the demand for capable men to administer and soldier for the British Empire. It is recorded that alumni served in the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny, the Boer War and even under the 8th Earl of Elgin during the Second Opium War. Indeed Headmaster Knox once noted that "wherever the Union Flag stands o'ershadowed, there you will find a Tonbridge boy ready to bring it into the light".
Tonbridge, as a provincial public school, is not one of the nine public schools mentioned in the Public Schools Act 1868, but it is as old as, or older than, five of those which are (the Act was not intended to define which schools were "Public Schools", but to apply certain conditions to some of them). It is among the 25 public schools mentioned in the Public Schools Yearbook of 1889, and is one of the founding schools of the HMC.
In the Victorian Era, Headmaster Welldon introduced "Praeposters" in the Sixth form, who were allowed to wear tall hats and tailcoats, to be absent from "Call" or detentions, and to inflict corporal punishment on younger boys. The chapel, and the institution of "Fagging", grew in importance in this period as well. It was also at the time of the expansion of public schools in the Victorian era that Tonbridge can be said to have become one of Britain's major public schools, there having only been about three before the expansion, often defined by the list of schools that play Racquets.
The Edwardian period saw considerable sporting success for the school. In 1905 and 1906 its 1st XI cricket team enjoyed two unbeaten seasons under its captain, Archibald Featherstonehaugh (pronounced "Fanshaw"). In the years that followed Tonbridge produced many first-class cricketers, including Colin Cowdrey in the late 1940s. No. 905 of the SR "Schools" class railway engines was named after the school.
In the 1880s it was finally decided, after much wrangling with various governments, that the Skinners' Company should continue in its ancient trusteeship of the school; it is said that Tonbridge is alone among the ancient public schools in retaining the exact governing body of its sixteenth-century foundation.
The Great War 
The school suffered heavy losses during the Great War. Great numbers of alumni were killed, as well as several members of staff who volunteered for service. The fabric of the school was unscathed. The OTC expanded, and had parades instead of work on Monday mornings, and Wednesday half-holidays were given over to field operations. Munitions were made in the school workshops. An area which is now covered by tennis courts was used by boys to grow potatoes and vegetables, in order to make the boarding houses more self-sufficient. It became a point of honour among OT flying officers to swoop down over the school in their aeroplanes, flying low over School House or the Chapel roof. At least once a boy on London Road was able to greet an older brother of his who was doing this. Once an Old Tonbridgian was forced to land on Martins, so hard that his plane reportedly rushed through a hedge into a hop field opposite. The propellor hung for many years in the bottom corridor of the New Buildings. Headmaster Lowry was so stressed by the vast numbers of deaths in battle of his old pupils (he had taught at Eton College and Sedbergh School as well as Tonbridge) that he had to take a brief rest from his duties as Head, and many among the boys and the staff feared that he would not return, but he recovered and came back.
At the start of the Great War, 234 OTs held commissions in the active lists of the Army and Navy, with 124 in the reserve and territorial forces. The total number of Old Tonbridgians who eventually served was 2382, and 21 masters. The Roll of Honour includes the names of 415 OTs and 3 masters. Like many public schools, which provided the officer class of the British military, Tonbridge School lost many of its sons in those years. In 1925, Baron Ironside, an Old Tonbridgian, unveiled the School's war memorial, which was dedicated by the Bishop of Birmingham, also an Old Tonbridgian, which the whole school passes every day in the ante-chapel.
World War II 
Tonbridge itself had a more eventful second war. In 1939, Dulwich College was evacuated to Tonbridge, and enjoyed the use of Tonbridge classrooms and playing fields when they were not being used by Tonbridgians. Gas masks were carried by boys during all school periods. During the Battle of Britain, almost every night the siren would sound, and the boarders would hurry to their shelters and spend the nights there, until the all-clear signal at dawn, not an atmosphere particularly conducive to academic study. The headmaster allowed each housemaster to decide for himself whether to go to the shelters, or to keep the boys in bed and "damn the consequences", and eventually all the housemasters drifted toward the latter, as it was realised that the town of Tonbridge had little military importance and so any bombs dropped on Tonbridge would be dropped by accident. Little damage was done to the properties owned by the school in London. It was impossible to black out the chapel during services, so after an experiment of holding Sunday evening chapel in Big School during the Winter terms, it was decided to hold servcies in chapel and hold them progressively earlier as the hours of darkness increased, the earliest being 3.45 pm.
There was a Home Guard contingent at Tonbridge School, who never encountered the enemy but were once engaged in combat by two drunken allied soldiers, who stopped to attack the public schoolboys. These two soldiers lost the fight, one having to leave on a stretcher.
In 1944 a V1 flying bomb launched by the enemy almost succeeded in killing Headmaster Eric Whitworth when it landed near Ferox Hall. A bomb dropped by a lone German bomber almost destroyed the Chapel earlier in the War.
Papers found by the Allies after the fall of Berlin suggested that Hitler's staff intended to make Tonbridge School the Upper-Medway regional HQ for occupying forces, had Operation Sea Lion gone ahead. During the War an anti-tank trench was dug alongside the Head (the school's main cricket pitch). The OTC (Officer Training Corps) issued the groundsmen with grenades, rifles and German phrase-books. On the recommendation of Edmund Ironside, 1st Baron Ironside, Chief of the Imperial General Staff and an Old Tonbridgian, an evacuation plan was drawn up by the school in case of a German invasion. Boys were to disperse across the country while masters formed resistance cells.
Post-War years 
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. 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. However, Mrs 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."
Basic fees are now[when?] around £30,000 per year for boarders, making Tonbridge one of the most expensive British schools, though it provides a large number of scholarships for gifted pupils, and many bursaries for less well-off pupils.
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."
The School, as of 2008, has the highest performing Politics and Economics Departments in the Eton Group, and the second highest-performing History Department after Westminster.
Almost all boys go on to University, with between thirty and forty every year going to Oxbridge. Tonbridge School has been named the top Oxbridge school in the south-east based on admissions to Oxford and Cambridge over the preceding five years.
According to a 'Guide to Independent Schools' published in The Spectator on 12 March 2011, Tonbridge is the fourth highest scoring boy's boarding school in the UK by A-Level results, after St Paul's School, London, Westminster School and Eton College.
According to the Financial Times A-Level league tables for 2011, Tonbridge is the ninth highest-scoring school in the country, overtaking Eton but being overtaken by Winchester College.
The school has a strong sporting tradition, especially in rugby and cricket, with many other sports played as well. Traditional public school sports like rugby fives and fencing are played to high standards, as well as more modern sports including football, climbing, squash, and tennis. The school has two of only 22 rackets courts in the country (only fourteen schools have them; the first at Tonbridge was built in 1897), and has seven fives courts; four are standard Rugby Fives courts whilst the other three are Winchester Fives courts.
Until 1869, Tonbridge had its own distinctive variant of football, which was played with thirteen players per side, with various eccentric rules, which was described by those who played it as a "ferocious" and "dirty" game. In 1869, the school discussed whether to adopt the Harrow, the Rugby, or the Association rules for football, and within two years the decision had been made to adopt the Rugby variant; Rugby Union rules and Football Association rules were rapidly overtaking local customs all over the country at this point, as the public schools started to play against each other as opposed to only playing internal matches.
Tonbridge's 1st XV rugby team was undefeated for 3 straight seasons (2004/5, 2005/6 and 2006/7), and is the only public school 1st XV since the Second World War to have two unbeaten seasons in a row, let alone three. The 1st XI Hockey team was unbeaten in its regular fixtures in the 2006/7 and 2008/09 season, while the Athletics squad has enjoyed two consecutive unbeaten seasons - 2005/6 and 2006/7.
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.
With the opening of the Tonbridge School Centre for Sports and Media in summer 2008, the school gained the most expensive school sports centre in the UK. The centre was opened by Sebastian Coe in front of a crowd of thousands. The new centre contains a 25-metre swimming pool, a gym, a climbing wall, a sports hall suited for badminton, indoor football, cricket nets practice or basketball, and a fully equipped, high-tech media centre.
There are twelve houses at Tonbridge School: seven boarding, and five day houses. Each house has its own house colours. The houses, in order of foundation, are:
|Judde House||Boarding||Magenta and Black
|Park House||Boarding||Purple and White
|Hill Side||Boarding||Red and Black
|Parkside||Boarding||Yellow and Blue
|Ferox Hall||Boarding||Orange and Yellow
|Manor House||Boarding||Green and Red
|Welldon House||Day||Dark Blue and Light Blue
|Smythe House||Day||Chocolate and Cerise
|Whitworth||Day||Green and White
|Cowdrey House||Day||Purple and Green
|Oakeshott House||Day||Scarlet and Gold
Each house contains some 65 pupils. The names are either drawn from the location of the house itself (e.g. Park House, Parkside, School House (originally located in the main school building) and Hill Side), or are names of benefactors, headmasters and others who have left their mark on the school over the years (e.g. Smythe House, named after Sir Thomas Smythe (see also Smythe Library), Judde House, named after the founder of the school, Whitworth and Welldon, both named after headmasters of the school, and Cowdrey House, named after Colin Cowdrey, arguably the most famous Tonbridge cricketing alumnus). The only exceptions are Ferox Hall, which takes its name from the Latin for ferocious, and Manor House, which was named by a former Housemaster.
There are also several "out-houses" around the town, intended to help further prepare boys for university life. Boys retain affiliation to the house they lived in previously during their time in out-houses.
Competitions between houses are held in many fields, particularly sport, as well as other activities such as music, art, debating, and design & technology. One example is the inter-house shooting competition; the winning house is awarded the Hansard Trophy, named after Cornelius Hansard, an Old Tonbridgian who served in the Second Boer War. The trophy, having been held by School House for two years running (2006 & 2007), is now held by Smythe House. The most prestigious of all of the house competitions are the senior house match competitions for each of the four main sports (rugby, football, hockey and cricket) which have been dominated in recent years by Park House.
The Cras, a cross-country running competition between the houses, is also a major source of house rivalry. The Cras is one of the oldest competitions still run by the school and is highly prestigious to win. Runners score points for their position, and the lowest scoring house (the one with the runners who finished best) receives a trophy. In the last one hundred years, only two boys have consecutively won the Cras in each of their five years at the school. There are various legends as to how the name was given to this race, the two most popular are that it is an acronym for "Compulsory Run Around School", or that the name is down to a mispronunciation by a former head of ground staff who originally came from the West Country, who pronounced "cross-country" as "CRAS-country". Past individual winners of the Cras include Eric Stuart Dougall (winner of the first Cras and a recipient of the Victoria Cross during World War I), Battle of Britain fighter pilot Squadron Leader Hilary Hood, Olly Freeman (current international triathlete) and Maurice Holmes (cricketer).
On the final Friday of the school year the boys compete for their houses in the house athletics competition. Cups are awarded for events and an overall trophy for the winning house. The senior boy who has won the most events is presented with the Victor Ludorum trophy (Latin for "Winner of the games"). This award is not unique for Tonbridge as several other British public schools also award it at similar events. There can be only one winner, and as such it is highly prestigious to win and a sign of outstanding athletic ability.
The main school building was built in the 1800s, on top of the site of the previous main school building. Recent additions include the Vere Hodge Centre, the E.M. Forster Theatre, and the Tonbridge School Sport and Media Centre. All three are of modernist design, incorporating quantities of glass and steel and high levels of technology, while the latter contains a swimming pool, gym, fencing salle and multiple changing rooms, and has been used, by the Australia team, as a training facility for the 2012 Olympics. The choice of materials for the Sport and Media Centre has attracted criticism from some[who?] as the copper is prone to overheat in the summer, and has hence been deemed a minor risk to health and safety.
The Chapel of St. Augustine was opened in October 1995 after its predecessor was severely damaged by fire in 1988. Legend has it that the chaplain had given a stirring sermon on fire and brimstone earlier in the day concerning God's punishment on the unfaithful. This legend is not completely accurate, and an old boy[who?] who was at the school at the time of the fire and in the chapel that morning during the 'last service' recalls with absolute clarity that the bible reading that day was given by a master of the school, Mr Burn, on the Tongues of Fire story. The Marcussen organ is a four-manual tracker-action instrument with 66 speaking stops, including two 32' stops; it is well known throughout Europe by those familiar with such instruments as a fine and impressive example; it is the second largest Marcussen organ in the United Kingdom. There have been numerous successful attempts to climb the outside of the chapel by old boys and old boys of other public schools from the surrounding areas over the years. The most common method is to scale the north face of the building using a drain pipe as an aide, then using lead flashing as a grip initially, to scramble up the roof tiles, then to leopard crawl to the west along the ridge until a good view of The 50 can be had. This is highly dangerous and should not be attempted.
The Smythe Library, built in 1962, was designed by William Holford in 1962. It contains approximately 26,000 volumes, some of which have been in the school's possession since the 17th century. Its collection includes a complete set of Punch.
Now offices, the former Headmaster's House (located next to the High Street) is the oldest part of the school, dating in parts from the 16th century. Its structure contains Roman masonry, most likely quarried from a temple to the god Priapus that is believed to have stood by the Medway near where Tonbridge Castle stands today.
Old Judde, which now houses the Modern Languages Department, was built in the 19th century and is remarkable for the enclosed terrace garden at its rear. The garden is raised several feet above ground level because it was built directly on top of the building that formerly occupied the site.
Tonbridge School's facilities include a sports centre and a large climbing wall with many routes at all levels, a swimming pool with extra depth at one end for scuba diving, an exercise gym, a large sports hall with five cricket nets and facilities for badminton and basket ball, and a large multi-purpose room for Judo, other martial arts, table tennis, fencing, pilates, yoga, spin class and the like. The building also hosts a media centre with news room with industry-standard recording and editing equipment. There is also a cafe and a bar. The school has three hockey astros - one floodlit water-based astro and two sand-based astros, used by Tunbridge Wells Hockey Club and Sevenoaks Hockey Club as well as by the school. It has a six-lane floodlit tartan athletics track, used by Tonbridge Athletics Club; it includes facilities for discus, javelin, shot-put, high jump, long jump, triple jump and steeplechase. The School has over 100 acres (0.40 km2) of pitches. The main cricket pitch (The Head) is occasionally used for Kent 2nd XI cricket matches. The school also has squash courts, fives courts and two rackets courts. There is also a shooting range. Sports also occur off site. These include golf, clay pigeon shooting, riding and sailing. The school owns several fleets of boats, most notably a fleet of 6 fireflies and 6 R.S. Fevas, both of which are regularly renewed.
School terms 
All terms have a half-term holiday and two weekend exeats within.
- Michaelmas Term - Early September to mid-December (most new boys join the school during this term)
- Lent Term - Early January to late March
- Summer Term - Late April to early July
School traditions 
The school's motto (Deus Dat Incrementum) is not to be confused with that of Westminster School, London (Dat Deus Incrementum). The two have quite different meanings owing to their word order. Whereas Tonbridge's lays emphasis on the fact that God, and nobody else, gives growth, Westminster's emphasises the fact that God gives growth and does not, for example, receive it, buy it or rent it. However, the motto "Dat Deus Incrementum" can be seen on the main school building at the entrance to the Physics department. The motto is the same as that of Marlborough College and The Judd School.
Tonbridge School slang 
Like many other ancient public schools, Tonbridge has its own distinct collection of terms. Here are a few still used to this day:
- - Bantams = Novi sports teams
- - Block = Lined paper
- - The Cras = School Cross Country race
- - Novi = New boy/ First Year
- - Farming - a punishment of gardening work (esp @ Hill Side house)
- - A Ferdie - a school shop foldover briefcase for carrying books
- - The Fifty = 1st XV rugby pitch
- - A Fugger = wastepaper basket
- - The Head = 1st XI cricket pitch (one of the most famous school cricket pitches in the country)
- - House square = Piece of silk awarded by the House to a boy. It may be turned into a House waistcoat etc.
- - Rustication = Suspension (literally "to be sent to the countryside")
- - Off ex = Permission from Housemaster to miss games/sport due to other commitments/injury.
- - The OC = School tuck shop, short for Orchard Centre,tuck shop used to be called Grubber
- - Paddy Mac's = a tower on one of the main school buildings (now houses part of the Classics dept).
- - The Pound = The school stationery shop
- - Pursuits - periods on Mondays and Friday's for boys to ask teachers for help with work or pursue their own activities.
- - Living out = boys living in an Out House, rather than their usual boarding house.
- - Minors = Cross Country, Fives and Sailing colours
- - Memoranda = School rules
- - OT = Old Tonbridgian
- - Old Judde - building housing the Modern Languages department; used to contain Judde House before it was moved to the school's old sanatorium. Has a rare raised garden attached.
- - The Pepperpot = tower on the chapel
- - The Athena Society = in the past it was a 12-man elective dining club; it is now open to all 6th form scholars to hear outside speakers.
- - Commendation = award for good work to be given to your Housemaster.
- - Distinction = awarded for outstanding work, the piece of work is kept by the Headmaster for posterity.
- - Imposition paper = punishment for poor prep. Boy is required to redo or copy something and have his Housemaster sign the sheet.
- - Head of School = the head boy
- - Head of House = the head boy in a house. Almost always a School Prae as well. Some houses have Deputy Heads of House too.
- - Headmaster's detention = Three hour detention from 7pm-10pm supervised by the Headmaster on a Saturday evening. Boy must be wearing a suit.
- - Second Master's detention = Wednesday morning detention for poor work.
- - Railway run = Punishment whereby the boy has to run a mile to the railway bridge and come back with a particular flower which grows there.
- - Rustication = suspension from school (as opposed to more permanent expulsion).
- - Powder Mills handicap= Race between members of the Cross Country club.
- - San = Where the school nurses (as opposed to house matrons) are; short for Sanatorium.
- - School Praeposter = twelve boys who help the Headmaster run the school. Also known as School Prae for short.
- - House Praeposter = boys who help Housemasters run the Houses. Also known as House Prae, or simply Prae since the context is usually unambiguous.
- - Skinners' Day = End of the academic year
- - Second Master = Deputy Headmaster and in charge of discipline
- - TFC - short for "thanks for coming" - suggests an opponent is not up to much, especially in a sporting context.
- - to be "Told" = to obtain sporting colours.
- - Times Leader = punishment given by praeposters in some houses which involved copying out sections of the Times.
- - Matey = A nickname given to the matron of a boarding house.
- - Tron = Another nickname given to the matron of a boarding house.
- - Lower Master = Master in charge of Vth form and below
- - Unit - early morning run given as a punishment by praeposters in some houses.
- - Upper Master = Master in charge of VIth form, i.e. Lower VIth and Upper VIth.
- - Yarth - expression denoting sarcasm.
Tonbridge Society 
The Tonbridge community has, in addition to boys, three main groups which come together in the Tonbridge Society to support each other and the school. The Parents' Arts Society provides a focus for parents and other friends of the school and gives them the opportunity to benefit from its educational and cultural facilities. The Old Tonbridgian Society provides a social and support network for the boys after their five years there. There is an Old Tonbridgian Masonic Lodge, with branches in London, Oxford and Cambridge. Finally, the Tonbridge School Foundation is committed to supporting the development of the school in many different ways. Collectively the Tonbridge Society represents all members of the Tonbridge family and brings the groups together for events of overlapping interest.
The Novi 
In Tonbridge terminology a 1st Year boy or boys are known as novi (rhyming with "no guy") which is short for (in Latin) "novicius" (novice) or "novicii" (novices).
Normal weekday dress, according to the Memoranda (school rules), consists of the traditional school tweed blazer, white shirt, school trousers, black or grey socks and black plain dress shoes. Boys must also wear one of the school ties or bow ties with their jackets or suits; at least thirty varieties are available at the School Shop, including two varieties of leavers tie made by T.M. Lewin, and Benson and Clegg of Jermyn Street (many old school and regimental ties are traditionally from here). Boys may wear a house waistcoat if they have had one made. All students are expected to dress accordingly on all regular days of school. School hats (straw hats with a ribbon in the school colours, also known as "barges") are available in the School Shop, but these are no longer mandatory and almost never worn by the majority of boys. Stiff collars are no longer necessary either. On Sundays, students are expected to put on formal wear. This consists of the school suit, and polished shoes. Boys in the sixth form may wear lounge suits and in fact usually do, as it distinguishes them from the boys who are in fifth form or below. Boys in the upper sixth can wear a light-coloured shirt on weekdays. School Praepostors may wear brown polishable shoes on weekdays but not on formal occasions. School coloured scarves may be worn during the winter. After lessons and games and at some weekends, boys can choose to wear casual wear as long as it is acceptable and inoffensive in nature. In times gone by, scholars and Praeposters had to wear gowns, and members of the choir to wear surplices; Praeposters also had to wear tall hats and tailcoats. Straw school hats are no longer compulsory, and have not been since a major town-gown fight in the 1970s.
House traditions 
Houses tend to have their own traditions, especially in the older boarding houses. These are normally not well known outside the house.
Head of School 
The Head of School i.e. the head Praeposter is famously allowed to graze his sheep on the Head (the 1st XI cricket pitch) which is next to the main buildings. He is also allowed to grow a beard and historically was permitted to carry a sword. In the past only praepostors were allowed to wear coloured shirts (as opposed to plain white) and have brown shoes.
Sports Colours 
Colours are awarded for the majority of sports at junior and senior team level with the presentation of a specific tie related to that sport. First team members in the major sports (Rugby, Cricket, Racquets, Athletics, Squash, Golf, Hockey and Shooting) are allowed to wear a Tonbridge blazer with the badge of their discipline sewn over the left breast.
Skinners' Day 
Skinners' Day marks the end of the school year. Historically it was used by the Worshipful Company of Skinners (to whom Sir Andrew Judd bequeathed the school) as a formal Visitation. The day starts with the last Chapel service of the year, attended by the Governors and the Court of the Skinners' Company. During the service, the Commemoration of Benefactors is read aloud (which essentially gives a brief history of the school), and the service ends with the School Hymn. After Chapel, there is a prize-giving service on the Upper Hundred, after which the cricket match against the Old Tonbridgians begins on the Head. The day concludes with House teas, hosted by the various Housemasters. This ends the School year. Senior Skinners inspect the school wearing ceremonial robes and furs.
Other information 
Combined Cadet Force 
The School has a CCF (Combined Cadet Force) contingent, to which most of the fourth form (14- to 15-year-old boys) belong. Boys can choose to join either the Royal Navy (RN), Army or Royal Air Force (RAF) sections of the CCF. Many older boys keep on CCF as an activity right up to and including their last year at school, the Upper Sixth, by which time they have become Non-Commissioned Officers, and are helping to run the contingent by teaching the younger boys. This allows them to exercise leadership skills which they have been taught as they have moved up through the ranks and through the school. The Army Section is affiliated with the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (PWRR).
In 2010, Tonbridge celebrated 150 years of the CCF, as one of the founding schools. An open day was held which was visited by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup and an Apache gunship helicopter. Each of the services was represented on the day including the Royal Marines. The day also included a Tonbridge School honour guard drill and was visited by Sevenoaks School, Judd School and Skinners School.
Third, Fourth and Fifth Years 
Community Service (helping the old, the infirm and handicapped members of the local community, or working in local primary schools or hospitals) exists.
Also possible are advanced Chemistry; Aero-Modelling; Art, Ceramics and Photography; Assistance to the Librarian; Assistance with some of the first-year activities; Bridge; Chess; Computing projects; Conservation; Design Technology Projects; Film-making; Music, primarily for music specialists; Phytology; Dramaturgy; Preparation of the School Magazine; Rackets; Radio; Recording Studio; Stage sets, props and lighting; Tonbridge's Literary Supplement; Work within a boy's House.
Almost all the activities listed above can be used as components of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, should a boy choose to enrol.
Notable staff 
- George Austen - 18th century Second master and father of Jane Austen
- Derek Chadwick
- Hilary Davan Wetton - former Director of Music
- Clive Dytor - former chaplain
- Martin Hammond - Headmaster (1990-2005)
- John Inverarity - former Australia cricketer, briefly taught maths at Tonbridge after retiring from cricket
- Vicesimus Knox - 18th century Headmaster
- Reverend John Langhorne - (1836–1911), classics master and house master from 1860 to 1877.
- Tony Little - a former assistant master at Tonbridge, now Headmaster of Eton College
- Michael McCrum - academic and historian, Headmaster (1962-70)
- Robert Maxwell Ogilvie
- Paul Parker - retired cricketer, now Classics and Modern Languages teacher
- Anthony Seldon - head of history and general studies (1989-93), now at Wellington College, Berkshire
- Jonathan Smith - novelist and writer, former head of English
- Haldane Campbell Stewart - Director of Music (1898-1918), organist and choirmaster at Magdalen College, Oxford, cricketer for Kent.
- Andy Whittall - retired Zimbabwe cricketer, current teacher/coach and Housemaster of Ferox Hall
Notable Old Tonbridgians 
Former pupils of the school are known as Old Tonbridgians (OTs) and can join an organisation called the Old Tonbridgians Society.
See also 
- Public school (Britain)
- Eton Group
- Worshipful Company of Skinners
- List of SR V "Schools" class locomotives
- Somervell, D.C. (1947). A history of Tonbridge School. London: Faber & Faber. OCLC 11852252.
- Halpin, Tony (10 November 2005). "Independent schools face huge fines over cartel to fix fees". The Times (London).
- "OFT names further trustees as part of the independent schools settlement" (Press release). Office of Fair Trading. 21 December 2006.
- "Private schools send papers to fee-fixing inquiry". The Daily Telegraph (London). 1 March 2004. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- Marshall, Francis, et al. (1892). Football; the Rugby Union game. London: Cassell. OCLC 13422741.
- "Sixth form and the CCF". Retrieved 28 May 2008.[dead link]
- "Tonbridge School CCF home". Archived from the original on 21 June 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
- "Tim Haynes - New Headmaster from September 2005". tonbridge-school.co.uk. 7 September 2004.
- "Sport's lessons for life". uwa.edu.au. 11 October 2012.
- "The score so far". Times Educational Supplement. 11 May 2008.
- Boarding Houses - Ferox Hall
Further reading 
- 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.
- Tonbridge School Website
- Tonbridge School on Ofsted
- The Worshipful Company of Skinners
- Tonbridge School Foundation
- Profile at the Good Schools Guide