About this church
This very special church was founded in 1868 by Herman Lunde of Oslo and is the oldest church in Britain founded by the Norwegian Seamen’s Mission. It was the centre of Scandinavian religion, culture and tradition in the area acted as a Seaman’s mission with Scandinavian newspapers, magazines and facilities for writing letters home. In the 19th century the church welcomed up to 70,000 seafarers annually, with many social evenings being held and a place where sailors could relax and converse with friends in their native tongue.
As the export of coal declined after WWII, the Norwegian ships turned elsewhere for trade. The local congregation continued to use the building until it was closed and deconsecrated in 1974.
In 1987 the Norwegian Church Preservation Trust was established to rescue and rebuild the church. The building was reopened by Princess Martha Louise of Norway in 1992. The church is now an arts centre and coffee shop.
The model ship hanging from the ceiling in the Greig Room symbolises the journey through life and is always facing the altar. It was donated by the Norwegian Church in Liverpool. The stained glass window is dedicated to the memory of Huw Roger Allan, vice chairman of the Norwegian Church Preservation Trust. The window of the fish represents the church’s history with Norwegian Sailors.
The Norwegian Sailors Memorial was donated by the Branch of the Norwegian Veterans Association for S West of Britain. The shield was made as a thank you gift for the Pastor of the Norwegian Church, Rolf Rassmussen. During the Nazi occupation of Norway, in World War II, the church became a lifeline for the Norwegian merchant sailing fleet who were unable to return home.
The anchor and oars were discovered beneath the chancel in the form of a cross. The oars are believed to be from the lifeboat of a Norwegian sailing ship. A small anchor was also discovered and is now displayed as a memory of the church maritime heritage.
Harald and Sofie Dahl married in 1911 and settled in Llandaff, Cardiff. Born in 1916, Roald Dahl spent his childhood in the Welsh capital, where his family worshipped at the Norwegian Church. Both Roald & his siblings were christened at the church and their family christening bowl is located in the Dahl Gallery.