The Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay

The Norwegian Church, built "under the auspices of Carl Herman Lund" (Roese). 1868; later enlarged; bell tower added in 1885. Wood frame now clad in wood, instead of the original corrugated iron brought over from Norway. Cardiff Bay, Wales. Photographs (2009 and 2019) and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite it in a print one. Click on the images to enlarge them.]

With the massive development of the South Wales Coalfield during the Victorian period, Cardiff became a major port; by the end of the period, it would be the "greatest coal-exporting port in the World" (City Hall, Cardiff, 9). As a result, it was also one of the first ports to have a Norwegian sailors' church. In fact this little Gothic-style church, typical of its kind, "is the oldest surviving church in Britain to be founded by the Norwegian Seamen's Mission and was the centre of Scandinavian religion, culture and tradition" (Roese). The Marquess of Bute had provided a site for it between the East and West Docks, but it was relocated when the docks were redeveloped in the later twentieth-century, and opened again in 1992. It has been refurbished and is now called "The Norwegian Church Arts Centre and Norsk Coffee Shop."

Although in this case the corrugated sheets used in the original construction were brought over from Norway, it was not at all unusual to use such material for a church or chapel. For example, there is a "tin church" in Esher, Surrey, too, on land donated by Queen Victoria from the royal estate of Claremont. Intended to be a temporary structure, this little church survives to this day in its original form. It has been painted white, and is an attractive and much-loved landmark.


City Hall, Cardiff: Visitor Information Guide. 2nd ed. Cardiff: City and County of Cardiff, 2006 (33 pp.) Available from City Hall.

Roese, Herbert E., compiler and ed. "Cardiff's Norwegian Church.". Web. 7 March 2017.

Updated 21 August 2019