One of the most original churches in Liverpool is the Gustav Adolfs Kyrka, the Scandinavian Seamen’s Church, a rendering in brick of the Nordic stave church [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stave_church].
It was built to minister to the pastoral needs of the transitory population of around fifty thousand Scandinavian seamen and emigrants in Liverpool in the early 1880s. It was completed at a cost of 50,000 Swedish crowns in 1884.
Designed by William Douglas Caröe (1857-1938), who was the son of the Danish Consul in Liverpool and a pupil of the architect John Loughborough Pearson, its octagonal form and pyramidal roof with stepped gables and a spectacular concave lead and timber spire highlight its Scandinavian associations.
The minister’s house adjoins the church.
The original worship space was up a half-flight of stairs and consisted of a galleried octagonal space with an open timber vault.
This was floored at gallery level in 1956-61 to create social and recreational space, and as the numbers of seamen visiting Liverpool declined the congregation adapted to serve the needs and welfare of the Scandinavian community in the city and its surrounding region.
Four plaster reliefs, originally part of the reredos and now relocated to the staircase, are by Robert Anning Bell.
Two sculptures, the Madonna and Christ, are by the Liverpool sculptor Arthur Dooley.
The bell from the former Norwegian Seamen’s Church at St Michael-in-the-Hamlet hangs beside the altar.
The Gustaf Adolf Nordic Congregation in Liverpool operates as the Nordic Church and Cultural Centre, providing a base for Danes, Finns, Icelanders, Norwegians and Swedes in the district and maintaining their unique building for future generations.
Visitors are made welcome, particularly at events: http://nordicliverpool.co.uk. The buffets are memorable.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lectures on Liverpool architecture, please click here.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Survivals & Revivals: past views of English architecture, please click here.