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Tonbridge School boarding houses

(13 Posts)
AOA86 Thu 22-Dec-11 16:22:42

Hi, can anyone recommend which Tonbridge boarding house would be best for an academic, sporty (football, hockey and cricket but not rugby) boy who is very outgoing. A house that is full of quiet introspective boys who prefer playing chess to kicking a football is not going to suit but then again a house full of shooting, fishing , hunting types is not going to suit either. Any tips on the individual boarding house atmospheres would be greatly appreciated.

coldenoughforsnow Thu 22-Dec-11 18:00:59

Hi AOA86, we toured three boarding houses recently when our DS went for his pretest. We initially went with the idea that we wanted a sporty, academic house just like you, but the overwhelming response of all we asked was that the school try to manage the mix of boys talents throughout the houses. Not sure how successful they are at it but that's what we were told when we asked the question. We ultimately decided that location and nature of boarding house was more important to us. Our DS is not the most organised and some of the houses are a fair distance from the school. Also the houses themselves are very different, some are old and full of character, some new and purpose built. Ferox house for example is a lovely old building, staffed with the most wonderful Matron and has a lovely family feel to it, however the idea to our DS of sharing a dorm with 6 or 7 other boys when he is 13/14 did not go down well (I should say he boards now in dorms of 5 or so at his prep school so we could not discount his views). It depends what you're looking for I guess. Happy to share our thoughts further if you're interested. What year would your DS go? Ours is 2014 entry but he has another offer elsewhere and much as I like Tonbridge I don't think I'm going to change his mind even if he gets offered a place in January !

timmytoes Thu 22-Dec-11 20:45:40

Hi, many thanks for your advice (have changed my nickname, i'm new to this Mumsnet stuff !) , our entry is 2015 so a little more time, gosh 6 to 7 other boys in a dorm , are all the houses like that ?, our young sir is currently at a day prep school but being an only child means he is very much used to own space. He will also sit Eton but we need a back up plan and at the moment Tonbridge is the closest we get , the rugby v football issue being number one problem ! At least at Tonbridge you can register without naming a house unlike Harrow or Winchester, still would be good to get some sort of idea so we can tailor upcoming visit.

coldenoughforsnow Thu 22-Dec-11 21:52:11

No not all the houses. School House was 2 or 3 I think in the first year, but of the ones we toured none offered the private space from the start. Its funny but DS has just won an Eton place for 2014 and Tonbridge was/is our Plan B! Did you know that at Eton he wouldn't have to play rugby, he could opt for football instead in the Christmas term. DS has to play rugby at prep school but its not high on his list of sports so if all goes well at CE he needn't play rugby very much at all at Eton although I'm sure he will want to get stuck into the house competitions - he is a serial "joiner". Ours is an only too and he loves boarding at the moment but 6 or 7 in a dorm at 14 didn't go down too well with him. That said, the boys that we spoke to in those dorms all seemed to love it. Lots of talk of pillow fights, midnight raids etc so I suppose it helps them all bond together which is good, especially if boarding is new. Of the ones we saw, I would say School house was probably the one we would go for. Nice mix of great location, dorms not too big from the start and the housemaster seemed lovely and was obviously well liked by the boys. Pity about the size of dorms in Ferox, if that had smaller dorms that house would be perfect for DS. We are wrestling with Eton house choices at the minute and there are so many of them I'm feeling dizzy! Good luck with the pretests next year. I'm sure if you phone Tonbridge they will accommodate visits to your shortlisted houses. They have been great with us!

Happygardening Sat 24-Dec-11 06:07:23

I looked at Tonbridge at really liked it the head was a young teacher at St Paul's when my husband was a Pupil there and I felt he had brought a lot of the St Paul's ethos/feel to the school. In the end we didn't choose it because there are only a handful of full boarders and we were looking for full boarding.

coldenoughforsnow Sat 24-Dec-11 10:20:49

That's a concern of mine too HG. The only concern really, as in all other aspects its perfect for DS and I really liked the Head and the feel of the place. From our visits we kept getting the comments that the boarding houses are largely empty on Sundays as most boys (not the overseas ones obviously!) go home on Saturday night and go back on Sunday evening, which is lovely if you're relatively local to Tonbridge but for those boys from further afield it felt as if they might be rather isolated at weekends. We've accepted the Eton place now - DS's choice, as he prefers the "We're all in it together" approach that he has at prep school.

Happygardening Sat 24-Dec-11 11:20:40

It is a real shame that it's not full boarding I heard the same thing no one around Sat and Sun I think it would be ok if you lived in London as the train service into London is good. I agre the head is super and there's a good modem 21st century feel to it. In the end my DS went to WIn Coll and he's blissfully happy.

peteneras Sat 24-Dec-11 12:00:10

’Its funny but DS has just won an Eton place for 2014 . . .’

Why do you say it’s funny, coldenoughforsnow that your DS won an Eton place? confused From what I see, he’s just succeeded in achieving a major landmark in his young life that will do him good for the rest of his life. Many congratulations to him and to you!

It’s great that he doesn’t have to share his private space with anybody at Eton. He can decorate his room any which way he likes and invite/ban anyone to/from his room. But in reality, housemates are all great pals and they usually meet and socialise in the Common Room, playing billiards, table football, watching TV etc. – they have almost equal numbers (around 10’ish) in each of the 5 year groups and the seniors always look after the juniors. Usually they only retire to their own room when they want to be left alone. The team/house spirit is tremendous, they have their own house colours and loyalty to the house is fierce. The 25 houses compete against each other in all kinds of things.

Which house has he opted?

coldenoughforsnow Sat 24-Dec-11 13:15:34

Probably didnt express myself very well, sorry. I meant "funny" because our DS sounds just like the OP's son, academic, sporty, outgoing, with Eton as first choice and Tonbridge as back up. It was the private space I think that was key to our DS opting for Eton. He is a natural joiner but he thought at 14/15 he would want his own space. We all are thrilled that he got the offer of a place. We hoped for the best after the pretest but didnt really expect too much, so it was a very pleasant surprise. We have to accept the offer and nominate a house or two over the holiday period and in honesty trying to figure out which house/housemaster is proving difficult as no one we know has any real experience of the place. We will visit the 4 houses that we/they choose for him next term so we hopefully will get a better feel for it then. Right now, we are completely in the dark so any recommendations will be gratefully received!!

parkersmum Tue 03-Jan-12 17:05:44

Hi Coldenoughforsnow, I also have a boy who was awarded place at Eton in sept 2014. The task of choosing the right house seams to be just as hard on parents as the IQ test is on kids. Sorry Aoa86 didn't mean to ambush your thread. I feel totally sympathetic, as our DS is an all rounder and eager to try everything Eton has to offer, however some days he can play chess and be quiet and others play rgby, goof around and watch tv. One thing is for sure, there is no guarantee that others in the same house would be the match. Our friends son was at eton for couple of years and loved the school but found it difficult to blend in with his house( master or other boys, not too sure). He than left for radley and loves it now. He never had a bad word to say about eton,just wasn't right for him. I guess we are all scared of deciding on our kids happiness for the next 5 years, when they have done the hardest part all on their own, by themselves.

Happygardening Tue 03-Jan-12 18:33:44

My son is at Win Coll we choose the house before being offered a place because he HM shoes the interview and chooses your DS for his house. We agonised for weeks between two we really liked but both totally different. We were lucky in that the housemaster we eventually choose invited us to lunch after are first meeting and we met the boys in the house and talked to them. It was their views they were frank about him that swung it. Now we are there we know we made the right decision he and his house is admired. Listen to the micro detail; Try and establish what his philosophy on life is, think would this man do what * you*would do in a difficult situation, is he approachable by both you and your son? Don't be over influenced by others it's you who are placing your DS's care into his hands. parkersmum is right the wrong fit is likely to effect your sons experience of the school more than the other in his house.

Alexis2 Tue 23-May-17 14:49:56

Hello ladies in the know, i would like to know if Tonbridge still empties out at weekend. and if this is necessarily a concern for an overseas boys. TIA.

Alexis2 Tue 23-May-17 14:50:33

Which boarding schools are the best for overseas boys? TIA

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