Sophia Booth’s House

Margate, Kent, England, UK

Date of destruction unknown

The Disappointed Tourist: Sophia Booth’s House, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

A lot of ‘lost’ buildings only live on as a memory, but Sophia Booth’s house lives on here, in the things Turner Contemporary does, and the humble building one woman owned has helped everyone see Margate differently – not just as a faded seaside resort, but as an inspiring and creative town. Dan T.

Sophia Caroline Nollte was born in Dover in 1798, to German immigrant parents.  She moved to Margate in 1818 when she married John Henry Pound, a local fisherman with whom she had two sons (one of whom died in infancy). Her husband drowned in 1821 and in 1825 she married John Booth, who was 37 years her senior and with whom she established a guesthouse where J. M. W. Turner lived between 1827 and 1847. After her husband’s death in 1833, Turner started to use the name Booth and became Sophia’s companion although he did not support her financially. They moved to Chelsea in 1846 where they rented a house in Sophia’s name and where they lived until Turner’s death in 1851. In 1865, her only surviving son, Daniel Pound, sold some of the Turner paintings she owned and bought Haddenham Hall, in Buckinghamshire with the proceeds.  She lived there until 1878, when she died at age aged 80.  She asked to be buried at St John’s Church, Margate. It is not clear when her rooming house was demolished but Turner Contemporary was built on the site it previously occupied. The painting is based on an old uncredited print.