A Nordic Beacon

Cardiff’s Norwegian connection. The Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay is still an important landmark.

History On The Dole

The Norwegian Church, Cardiff. Courtesy of Cardiff Local Studies Library. The Norwegian Church, Cardiff. Courtesy of Cardiff Local Studies Library.

Since the end of the Second World War, the people of Norway have made an annual gift of Christmas trees to London and other maritime port towns across the United Kingdom in honour of the close ties of friendship that exists between the two countries. The gift of a tree to Cardiff is particularly poignant because, in 1905, Norway gained its independence from Sweden and Cardiff was granted city status – the first (and really only) modern city in Wales. Along with Hull and Liverpool, Cardiff has always had a Scandinavian minority in its population, with most involved directly or indirectly in maritime trade. Two facets of this heritage are now especially visible: the Norwegian Church, a beautiful, brilliantly white wooden building that since 1992 has stood overlooking the Cardiff quayside, having been removed from its original position at Bute…

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5 Responses to “A Nordic Beacon”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    I’ll bet it’s called St Olave’s!

    In the 1990s while still living in Cambridge I used to go annually to the Anglo-Norwegian carol service held shortly before Christmas in London. This alternated between St Olave’s in The City and St Olave’s in Rotherhithe, both churches founded for Norwegian seamen. The service still goes on and this year was held in Rotherhithe. It is followed by an in-church smorgasbord, and often a member of the Norwegian Royal Family and/or the Ambassador turns up. The carols are a mix of English favourites and Norwegian ones, including the notable Deilig er Jorden:

    • The Wales Millennium Centre was built on the site of the old Church. The Norwegian Church was rebuilt in the 80s at its new location, which is nearby…

    • Incidentally, I learned today that Norway is disestablishing it’s official church from January 1st 2017..

      • This happened in Sweden (and, I believe, in Denmark) a few years ago. It essentially means that contributions to the Church are no longer collected as a tax. (In any case, the tax is paid only by those who are members of the Church. A similar situation exists in Germany, except that there is more than one church (but by no means all) for which taxes are collected (from the members).

  2. The Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay was deconsecrated in 1974. It is now an arts centre.

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