The first we hear of education in Goudhurst was in 1670 when, in his will, John Horsmonden endowed a school by naming twelve of his friends to appoint a ‘pious and learned man, well grounded in the Protestant Episcopal Religion, to teach fifteen sons of the farmers and tradesmen of Goudhurst to read, write and understand the Latin and Greek tongues and all other tongues, arts, sciences usually required in youth for their admission to University. For this the teacher would receive £35 a year. In addition, John Horsmonden instructed that another pious and learned person should teach poor children to read English perfectly and he should he paid £5 a year. Unfortunately the income from lands at Tenterden which provided the endowment did not keep pace with inflation and the Grammar School failed to prosper. By 1833 the school had only six pupils, out of a maximum number of twenty, each of whom paid a fee of £3 per annum.
In the late 1850s a public meeting was called to discuss the proposal that “The National School unites with the Grammar School”. Despite a favourable vote, without the agreement of the Grammar School trustees, it could not be implemented and nothing happened. Another reason for the school’s lack of success was because John Horsmonden had not, in his will, provided a building in which the school was to operate. Consequently, by 1860 the school trustees found it impossible to appoint a Master, the school failed and the money from the endowment was left to accumulate for the next twenty years.
In 1880 the Charity Commission was asked to provide a scheme for the administration of the accumulated funds and they suggested an endowment scheme whereby the income would be devoted to exhibitions for meritorious Goudhurst boys, tenable for three years, to attend a place of higher education. Horsmonden’s Endowment Scheme, as it became known, existed until the 1960s.