Catherine Winkworth was born in No. 20, Ely Place, Holborn, on the 13th September 1827. Her parents moved to Manchester while she was still very young as her father had a silk mill (at Macclesfield?); & Emily & Susanna were left with their grandmother Winkworth & her daughter, Eliza, who had lived with them in Ely Place, & they went to live at Islington where "Aunt Eliza" undertook their education. When they followed their parents to Manchester they had lessons from the Rev. William Gaskell, minister of Cross Street Chapel, Manchester, & husband of the well-known novelist. Later Catherine became very friendly with both Mr. & Mrs. Gaskell, & also knew the Martineaus, Miss Bronte, The Goldschmidts (Madame Goldschmidt was Jenny Lind before her marriage), Adelaide Procter, the Froudes, Mrs. Carlyle, etc., & it was through Mrs. Gaskell that she came to know Chevalier Bunson who started Catherine & Susanna in their literary work, & to whom Catherine dedicated her "Lyra Germanica."
"We were spending the spring & summer in a small cottage (Fern Cottage) which our father had taken at Alderley Edge, about fifteen miles from Manchester, a hill on the edge of Lord Stanley's Park, with a beautiful view over the Cheshire plain below. This led to his building a house there to which the family moved in June 1850 (Thornfield), but I remained behind in Manchester with my brother Stephen (removing to a little house in Nelson Street) until his marriage in 1861" (Susanna Winkworth) The home was then broken up, & Susanna returned to Alderley Edge.
"Tonight Mr. Heugh & Papa & some more gentlemen are to meat at Mr. Consterdine's to try & arrange plans for opening a Reading Room that shall be a counter-attraction to the public house," (a letter dated 1855, from Catherine to her sister Emily). Mr. Consterdine was the first vicar of the new church of St. Philip's Chorley, which was built in 1851-2. As soon as the vicar was settled at the new church Catherine untertook active work among the poor in the newly-established Sunday School & District Visiting Society. She was regarded with extreme affection by the poor, & long after she left the neighbourhood, she used to receive occasional letters from them. For nearly two years from January, 1848, Catherine had a long period of ill-health, & on this account went for several visits for her health. Most of the winter of 1859 was spent by her & her sister Susanna, at Malvern owing to illness; & catching a fresh chill Catherine had to stay on at Malvern till October, when they moved to Westen for a change of air. They arrived home at Alderley in time for Christmas. Again in 1861 Susanna had a serious illness which left her more or less of an invalid for some years. In spite of this ill-health, the sisters continued with their translations of German works & made several visits abroad. In February 1861, their father was tken ill; this was the beginning of his complete breakdown in health, which obliged him to give up his business, & ultimately led to the family leaving Thornfield, Alderley Edge, & settling at Clifton in October 1862. After the birth of Emily's youngest child, she was an invalid for many years & was the centre of all the family thoughts and plans. During the later part of her life Catherine's principal work was in connection with education, & in 1870 she was made secretary of the Committee to Promote the Higher Education of Women.
In 1878 Catherine went to Mornix near Geneva where she joined Annie Shaen to help her in the care of their nephew Frank Shaen, then an invalid. She arrived on June 17th, & on the 21st they proceeded to Monnetiex. On the morning of the 1st of July she was suddenly attacked by a pain at the heart, & in half-an-hour all was over. Susanna immediately started for Monnetiex, & in a few days Catherine was laid to rest in the corner of the churchyard set aside for Protestants. In her memory her friends raised a sum sufficient to endow two "Catherine Winkworth" scholarships for women at the Bristol University College, & also to erect a memorial tablet to her in Bristol Cathedral.
In Memory of
Who, in her Lyra Germanica,
Rendering into English verse
The treasures of German sacred poetry,
Opened a new source of light, consolation, and strength
In many thousand homes.
Her works reveal a clear and harmonious intellect
A gift of true poetic insight and expression,
And the firm Christian faith
Which was the mainspring of a life
Rich in tender and affectionate ministration
And fruitful in various fields of active service.
Her loss is mourned by all who shared her labour,
And by the many friends whom death has bereft
Of her rare sympathy, her wise counsel,
Her bright companionship, and her unfailing help
In every time of need.
To commemorate her work, and to perpetuate
Her efforts for the better education of women,
A scholarship, bearing her name,
Has been founded in University College, Bristol
By friends who now dedicate this table
To her memory
Born in London, September 13th, 1827
Died in Monnetier, Savoy, July lst, 1878
|"The child has now its Father seen,|
And feels what kindling love may be,
And knoweth what those words may mean,
'Himself, the Father, loveth thee'."
From "Memorials of Two Sisters: Susanna & Catherine Winkworth" Edited by their niece Margaret J. Shaen. 1908?
In remembrance of the 9th March 1861
from M. R. and A. M. R.
"M. R. & A. M. R" were Mary & Anna Maria Rawson, old
school-friends of my great-aunt "Jane" - Jane Adair Atkins.
Mary Rawson married Dr. Burqhardt, an analytical chemist, & they went to live at Delamere, Meyes Lane, Alderley Edge, moving later to Fern Cottage, Macclesfield Road, Alderley Edge.
From manuscript notes in a copy of Lyra Germanica
See also Theologica Germanica (translated by Susanna Winkworth) and Works by Catherine Winkworth at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.