Personal papers of Stella Cattell (b.1899- d.1963)

Scope and Content

This collection contains Stella Cattell's school certificates and workbooks during her time as a student at Willingham Village School and Cambridge High School for Girls on Long Road. The collection also includes her teaching papers such as school diaries and exercise books, from when she worked as a teacher at Cottenham Council School. There are also some family papers including photographic postcards and school certificates.

Administrative / Biographical History

Stella was born in Willingham, ten miles North of Cambridge, to a milling family. Her father, Charles Cattell owned one of two working windmills in the village from 1895. The mill was worked by his son until the 1960s and is now preserved and open to the public

Stella was the oldest of three children. She attended the village school at Willingham until the age of 11, passing the minor scholarship examination in the first division in May 1911. From 1912 to 1916 she went to Cambridge High School for Girls on Long Road. She was then awarded a Cambridge University certificate on completion of her studies in July 1916. Stella and her parents expected she would become a teacher. She first held a post as governess to the son of the local doctor and prepared him for entry to Tonbridge School. She then worked as an unqualified teacher in nearby village schools, including Cottenham Council School (from 1916 to 1917), and considered the possibility of teacher training at Saffron Walden and Homerton College, Cambridge (1920). She probably gave up the idea of enrolling in a teaching training course when she decided to marry Frank Few, the son of a local store-keeper and newsagent. He left school at twelve to become a delivery boy for the Great Eastern Railway. During the First World War Frank served with the Army Service Corps in France as a driver in 1916, returning home in 1920. Since at the time marriage would have made her ineligible for the teaching profession, her father did not approve of her decision and banished her from the house. Stella moved away from Willingham to live with one of his father's sisters in Wolverhampton, and took a number of posts as governess with families in the region. She returned to the village in 1922 and married Frank Few, who had meanwhile formed a partnership with his younger brother as market garden agents. The marriage took place at the registry office in Cambridge but none of her immediate family attended the ceremony. The couple lodged successively in two or three houses in the village, and eventually rented a 4-room house in Silver Street, where their two sons, Ian (b.1925) and Roger (b.1928), were born. In 1934 they were finally able to buy a half-acre plot of land on the High Street, and build two houses. They moved into one of the houses while Frank's widowed mother and unmarried sisters occupied the other, which included a shop.

Stella was involved in Sunday School work and in the organisation of concerts for young people, but with the acquisition of the land, she spent most of her time as a small-holder. In her later life she acted as a judge at Women's Institute produce competitions. She died in 1963, having been a widow for two years (Frank died in 1961).


This collection is arranged as follows:

  • K2250/1 - School papers
  • K2250/2 - Teaching papers
  • K2250/3 - Family papers

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