St Olav’s The Norwegian Church, Rotherhithe
1 St. Olav's Square, Albion Street, London, SE16 7JB

Restoration of the stone flames

Restoration of the stone flames

St Olav's, popularly known as The Norwegian Church, was opened in 1927 by Olav, the Prince of Norway. Between 1940 and 1945, it served as the parish church for the Norwegian king and government who were living in exile during the Nazi occupation of Norway.

The church primarily served as a gathering point for seafarers and military personnel. This church was the third of its kind in London. During the 19th century, ships bringing timber and other goods from the Baltic countries also brought seamen who spent time in the area when ships were docked. This led to the development of seamen's missions to help cater for the 'religious and moral welfare' of travelling seafarers. The Norwegian Mission Society opened a mission in 1868 - moving to a permanent church known as the Ebenezer Church, Rotherhithe in 1871. The union of Norway and Sweden (established in 1814) was dissolved in 1905 and so a separate Swedish mission was founded and another additional church established. During the 1920s, the decision was made to expand the services and spiritual offering available to Norwegians living in London which led to St Olav's construction.

The church weathervane is of a gilded Viking longboat and was once also surrounded by four stone flames. The four flames and lantern on the exterior symbolise a lighthouse - guiding seafarers to a safe haven and pays tribute to the original purpose of the Norwegian Church in London.

The project involves the replacement of the four stone flames with copper and gilded flames. The process will include a survey and creation of 3D models of patterns for reproduction.