Catherine Booth

Catherine Booth was wife of General William Booth and co-founder of the Salvation Army. She was born at 13 Sturston Lane (now Road), Ashbourne in 1829. There is a bust to her in Ashbourne Park.

Catherine Booth suffered from ill helath throughout her life, but still had 8 children.

Catherine Booth (nee Mumford) was born in humble circumstances in Ashbourne on 17 January 1829, although she was baptised in Derby. Her father, John Mumford, was a wheelwright and an itinerant preacher, and the family had moved to Ashbourne in 1827 at the end of the Town's heyday as a coaching centre.   The major influence on Catherine's life was her Mother, Sarah.  When she moved to Ashbourne, Sarah had started to attend St Oswald's Church but was unhappy with the Church and, as the Methodists gathered strength locally, Sarah became an ardent convert imprinting Methodism onto her daughter.

In 1834, the family moved to Boston in Lincolnshire, where Catherine was to become the Secretary of the Juvenile Temperance Society.  In 1843, Catherine suffered a serious illness and, during her recovery she studied the Bible.   In 1844, the family moved to Brixton, South London, but Sarah and Catherine thought the local Methodists there lacked zeal. Catherine went on to join the Wesleyan Reformers, where she was to meet her future husband, William Booth of Nottingham. They married on 17 June 1855 and became itinerant preachers travelling throughout Britain, but suffered health and financial difficulties; despite this they had 8 children.  

William and Catherine returned to London in 1865. William became involved in the East London Christian Mission whilst Catherine preached in the wealthier parts of London to raise funds.  Despite concerns about how they would be received, the development of their work far exceeded expectations.  By offering a path to God and a wide range of welfare initiatives, the Salvation Army became the fastest growing religious movement of late Victorian Britain.

By the time of Catherine's death in 1890, there were 3,996 Centres of Work, over 85 social welfare projects and the Army was operating in over 32 countries world wide.  Catherine's contribution was recognised by the Methodist Times who called her "the greatest Methodist woman of her generation"; 50,000 people filed past her coffin at Olympia and, at her burial in Stoke Newington, the numbers had to be limited to 10,000.

Images courtsey of the Salvation Army Heritage Centre.  

Birthplace of Catherine Booth, wife of General Booth and a founder of the Salvation Army. Part of a substantially complete urban cottage row of late 18/early 19 Century.

Bust of Catherine Booth, wife of General Booth and a founder of the Salvation Army. The bust by George Wade stands on a stone pedestral and shows Catherine, who was born in Ashbourne in 1829, in Salvation Army uniform. The original bronze bust was stolen and replaced by a copy in fibreglass.

This Chapel was built in 1879-81 to replace an earlier chapel in Compton. It has an Italianate Neoclassical facade, reflecting a period when non-conformists wanted to make their chapels look different from the Gothic revival churches.

Find out More

Ashbourne Park is a surviving part of a medieval deer park. It remained part of the Ashbourne Hall estate for over 800 years and was recorded as an impaled park on a map of 1547 and described in England’s oldest rhyming epitaph as one of three hunting parks created by the Cockayne family.

Find out More