William and Catherine Booth's Home - Rookwood Road (1885-1890)

This is the house where Catherine died.

In 1888 there was clearly something very wrong with her health and it was discovered that Catherine had breast cancer. They were unable to operate because of her weak heart, but she took alternative medicine that kept her pain free until May 1889. The last 18 months of her life were just awful. She refused to take morphine and the pain was terrible. Several times over several months the family gathered around her thinking she was going to die.

During this last illness William immersed himself in a work that was to become the blue print of the social work the Salvation Army was going to pioneer. Catherine made a significant contribution to this plan which was published a few months after her death.

Catherine Booth finally succumbed on October 1st 1890. William was of course devastated. He wrote of her - “she was in a wonderful sense a lover of mankind; no difference of circumstance, or of race, or sex, or of age, made any effect upon her. To be a human being, in any sort of need commanded her sympathy. The greater the weakness or the more dire the disease or the more utter the friendless, there her heart’s pitying love ran out the strongest.”

At the same time he wrote, “ever since our first meeting, now nearly 40 years ago, we have been inseparable in spirit – that is, in all the main thoughts, feelings and purposes of our lives. On no single question of any importance have we ever acted independently of each other’s views.”

From my biography of Catherine Booth on my website.

Additional Information

You will see from the attached map that there were only two houses on Rookwood Road at that time. They both still stand, one on either side of the road. One of them Is a Jewish Seminary and I am guessing that this was their house as they probably chose it for that reason.

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