Chapel of Ease Free School - Adjoining the Chapel is a School for the instruction of "fifty or more poor boys and girls," but at present confined to the education of boys, in consequence of other schools on a similar plan having been opened for girls. This school was opened about the year 1686, and for some time after its establishment, was held in the gallery of the chapel behind the organ, until successive donations enabled the Trustees to erect a school-room at the back of the chapel, which within these few years has been enlarged to its present size.
Mr. William Strong in his will, proved at Canterbury, January 20th, 1713, left the following bequest for the use of the Scholars :
"After the decease of Mary Sheffield, a farm of about 90 acres, situate at Pembury, is left to the Churchwardens of Tunbridge for the time being and their Successors and Assignees for ever for them to receive yearly and every year the rents issues and profits of the said premises, and after deducting for taxes, &c. they shall yearly pay away and dispose of the same to and for the clothing and putting forth apprentice yearly for ever one or more boys born or to be born in the said parish of Tunbridge, or in any other parish, so that such boy or boys has or have been for some considerable time educated in the great School at Tunbridge, or at the great School at the Wells in or near the Chapel thereof, … And such boy to be of honest parents and know the four first Rules of Arithmetic, the most necessitous to have the preference. And such boys shall be within 14 years of age to 18, and not defective in body or mind … surplus money thereby arising in all or any such years, shall be paid and applied by the said Churchwarden and Successors for enabling some one or more of such boys so put out as have most need of help, and have honestly served their apprenticeship to each of them a sum from £20 to £50 for 5 years without interest upon security approved by the Minister and Churchwardens or any two of them, and to no other purpose whatever."
… for a period of nearly thirty years the Testator's benevolent intentions were frustrated [until] the Rev. W. L. Pope, however, with a praiseworthy zeal that reflects the highest credit upon him, applied to the Commissioners of Charities upon the subject, whose reply to him, dated December 16th, 1836, states that the "Great School at Tunbridge meant Sir Andrew Judd's School, and that boys from that School, or from the Chapel School at the Wells, were alone eligible to partake of the benefits of the Charity." This opinion was decisive of the question at issue, and since then the boys have been nominated from the Chapel School only.