Norwegian Church Arts Centre

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Norwegian Church Arts Centre

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Cardiff’s Norwegian Church was founded by Herman Lunde of Oslo in 1868. The wooden building originally stood between the East and West Docks, on land donated by the Marquis of Bute. The gallery and bell tower were added in 1885. It is the oldest church built overseas by the Norwegian Seamen’s Mission to survive intact. The photo on the right shows the church in its original location.

Scandinavian seamen worked on ships which came to Cardiff to carry away Welsh coal. The church, designed like a village church back home, was a haven in the bustling port where the seamen could meet, worship, read periodicals from their native countries or write letters home. After the decline of the coal trade, the church was closed in 1974 and fell into decay. In 1987 it was dismantled by the Norwegian Church Preservation Trust, which also kept many of the interior fittings. The Trust raised £250,000 in Wales and Norway to re-erect the church on its present site, where Princess Martha Louise of Norway opened it to the public in 1992.

The trust’s first president was the children’s author Roald Dahl, who was christened in the church in 1916. His father Harold, who worshipped at the church, hailed from Oslo and had co-founded a ship-broking company in Cardiff in 1880. The company also had offices in Swansea, Port Talbot and Newport. Roald Dahl died in 1990. Every year his birthday is celebrated at the church with a party for local children.

The church is now a venue for arts exhibitions and events, and meetings of the Welsh Norwegian Society. The coffee bar serves food influenced by Scandinavian cuisine. The church reopened in May 2011 after further renovation, funded by the Landfill Communities Fund and with assistance from Hordaland County Council, Norway.

Postcode: CF10 4PA    View Location Map

Website of the Norwegian Church Arts Centre

Thanks to RNIB for the audio presentation of this page

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