Miss Emmeline Samuels, who would eventually become my maternal grandmother, attended Stratford Abbey College as a pupil from Nantwich (Cheshire) for a period of around two years beginning on 23 January 1895, under the headship of Miss Rosa Stella Isackë.
Along with her sister Clara, Rosa Isackë remained joint Principal until 1905. She died in April 1919, aged 82.
Inclusion of a dated parental testimonial confirms that the above edition of the Stratford Abbey College prospectus cannot have been printed before 1920. The Misses Isackë named as Principals must therefore presumably be one or more of Rosa’s nieces, Stella, Kitty and Muriel, possibly still in partnership with her sister Clara, who was four years her junior.
I have no idea as to the circumstances which led to my grandmother becoming a pupil at this particular school in Stroud. Born in 1879, she was the youngest of eight children, having two brothers and five sisters. While one of the girls had died in infancy in 1876, none of the other four attended Stratford Abbey nor, as far as I am aware, any comparable educational establishment.
Precise knowledge of Emmeline’s starting date results from it being her sixteenth birthday. It was also the day on which she first met fellow pupil Laura Davis, who was to become a lifelong friend.
Laura was a bridesmaid at Emmeline’s wedding in April 1903 and the two ladies maintained regular correspondence until Laura’s death in 1968. She lived in Llandeilo (Carmarthenshire) and remained single throughout her life. After becoming a widow in 1946, Emmeline moved from London to Bath, where she died in 1972 at the age of 93.
Stratford Abbey closed in 1955. The house was demolished in 1961 and the site is now occupied by a Tesco petrol station.
Throughout her life my grandmother continued to send a Christmas card each year addressed to Miss Isackë. Whether or not these ever reached a member of the family is unknown, although Rosa’s last surviving niece, Stella, lived on to reach 100 years of age before her death in June 1977.