A boy's House is very much the focus of his daily life, and provides a community within the school to which he relates particularly closely. Although each House has its individual character, there is an even spread of abilities and talents throughout the Houses, and boys in any one House represent a fair cross-section of the whole school. The House system at Tonbridge retains a traditional strength and encourages the loyalty which grows from security within a close-knit community of manageable size. Each boarding House has its own dining room, kitchen, and domestic staff, and boarders take all their meals in their own Houses during the week: on Saturday evenings and Sundays the boarders from all Houses meet together for more informal meals in the Orchard Centre. Each day House has its separate dining room either within the House or in the Orchard Centre. There is a full range of inter-House competitions, at junior and senior levels, throughout the year. Notable among these are the House Music, Art, debating, and general knowledge competitions, and the House Leagues in the main sports, which offer a particular opportunity to those who do not play in the major school teams. There are House plays and House concerts. The great majority of boys naturally find a number of ways in which they can contribute to the life of their House, and such participation is warmly encouraged.
Accommodation in the boarding Houses is arranged to provide a largely communal life for boys in their early years, so that they come to know their fellows well, and then increasing personal space and privacy as a boy becomes more senior. In their first two years, then, most boys sleep in small dormitories and share studies: many boys in the Fifth Form and all boys in the Sixth Form have their own rooms, either a bedsitter or separate sleeping and working rooms. The Houses also contain common rooms, changing rooms, and small kitchens for the boys' use. There are extensive gardens, and some Houses have their own tennis court or football field.
The day Houses have common rooms for each age-group, study rooms, games rooms, and changing rooms. Overnight accommodation can usually be offered if there is need - for example if a boy is late back to Tonbridge after a theatre trip.
In addition to the main Houses, there is accommodation for some two dozen Sixth Formers in five Senior Student Houses, each under the supervision of a resident member of staff. Both boarders and day boys in the Sixth Form may opt to live in a Senior Student House for all or part of their final year. A Senior Student remains a member of his House in all other respects (and takes his meals with his House), but Senior Student status gives a greater degree of independence and offers the opportunity for long periods of uninterrupted study.