The English Church in Stockholm.
By John Howard Swinstead.
Stockholm: Tryckeriaktiebolaget, 1913.
This slight attempt bears marks of haste on almost every page, which no one can more deeply regret than myself. It has only been made at all possible by the extreme consideration of friends—too numerous to mention—who have allowed me to hurry them into cooperation. Some I have acknowledged, at the headings of chapters, for which they are responsible. The others will I hope permit me here to say, how grateful I feel to have been able by their aid to get this brief survey of a noble and faithful effort published, just at the moment when enquiry is most alert.
If this account adds (however little) to our gratefulness for the past, my purpose is achieved.
J. H. S. Sept. 8. 1913.
CHAPTER 1. THE BEGINNINGS.
It was “the Poor Box” undoubtedly that started the movement, which was afterwards a branch of the Church; a more fitting commencement is hard to imagine. “Strangers in a strange land” might do far worse than imitate the method of their Lord’s initiative, by having a special means of helping the poor and needy.
The plan adopted seems to have been this; the captain of every ship coming in to Stockholm should contribute 24 rix-dollars on behalf of the distressed sailors of our country. The system was set afoot at 1700 (about) but the first records at my disposal date from 1772, when (as I read the clear and beautifully written Swedish) there was made a disbursement on Jan. 20, “for certain sick sailors, and their return-journey to England,” quickly followed on Feb. 6th., by 96 rix-dollars for a worthy family named Letthen, all four sailors. It is a very pleasing thing to read between the lines (which dates allow us to do), and discover that payments were made before any funds were in hand. As a matter of business, of course this was bad finance, but as an act of faith it abundantly proved warrantable: for later records shew that neither the poor box nor its off-spring, the Church, ever failed of means where a lead was given by faith and unselfishness. Half the doctor’s fees, drugs, and nursing were paid from the poor box for a man on the vessel of one, Captain Mabbs, 1774, at a cost of r. d. .363. 15—so the fund was administered generously as well as promptly by Mr. Martin Hagbohm. That gentleman acknowledges the aid of the Royal Chancellery of Sweden in assisting cases of emergency as [5/6] early as 1790, and quaintly adds his testimony that “in the aforementioned instances, all feasible economy was most sufficiently observed, for no other method was found of providing for all the destitute English Minister, His Excellence the Honourable Robert Liston: while a far larger number of similar sailors have through my means been forwarded hence by sea, without any charge on this poor-box’’. Beyond meeting disasters of wrecks (“dess strandade brigg Eden utbetalt passage penningar”), and burials, the outgoings for casual calls of sickness, and of other distress, might be expected to run high; but they were not so costly that funds failed when required, as may be proved by an entry for “most highly necessary repairs to the English portion of the churchyard of St. Mary Magdalene.” One of the most expensive (as well as the most touching) entries, is that of the boy Ebenezer Naird, who suffered amputation of both feet, and was furnished with a pair of wooden legs, clothing, and linen.
The progress of this work of mercy is transparent from a document of the firm of Messrs. Toltie and Arwedson, who affirmed in 1S13, “The properly of the English poor-box, derived from savings since 1771, consists in a mortgage note of hand of Countess von Heine, on her estate Simonstorp in Scania, bearing interest at 6 %, an obligation, an old Trollhatt bond, ready money in cash,—total r. d. 3208”. From the same trustees is a record to the same effect, ending “thus you have to dispose of r. d. 175 annually, besides what will be paid by the English capns. for the releive of distressed English saylors, besides the 66 actually in cash. I shall be glad of a conversation with you at your leazure. Remaing with greatest regard———”
But success ebbed and flowed; high and low tide meet in a letter by Mr. Charles Arwedson in 1824 to the consul, “In the year 1771 the English poor-box then in the hands of Robert Finlay & Co., was entirely lost on that house’s failure, nobody coming forward to claim the property. My father shortly after, as a partner of our house, undertook to revive the poor-box: it has during the lapse of years again attained a handsome fund and capital: it possesses two burial places, one under the church of St. Mary since 1707, the other in the churchyard since 1723: the former was destroyed in the year 1759, when the church was burnt down it was [6/7] afterwards rebuilt and vaulted and furnished with an iron door, the expense of which was taken out of the funds of the poor-box. In this grave repose the remains of the late Reverend Louis de Wisme, His Brittish Majesty’s Envoy Extry. at this court. I believe he died during the first years of the reign of Gustavus III. On the churchyard are interred English sailors who have died here. I am happy to find that Sir Benjamin Bloomfield has had: the goodness to enquire about the state of the poor-box.”
The fund, originally started in about 1700, by proprietors of ships in Whitby, Hull, and Shields, was (certainly before 1840) drawn upon for other cases of distress than those of mariners: H. B. M’s Consul in 1840 proposed to make a further extension of its use, to assist widows and orphans of British residents in Stockholm: to this his successor, objected as a departure from the original intention of the subscribers: but he lived to change his mind, for he signed (as correct) accounts containing instances of the wider view,—and that without further written protest. Some quaint items indicate that, rather than let money lie idle, it was used for purposes akin to the charity of the poor-box:
“Mrs.———, belonging to the Established Church of England, being in great distress, was refused assistance from the religious community to which her husband belonged, r. d. 30.
“M. M. S., a native of Bengal, 50.
“Passengers on board the Sultana, of Dundee, 35—18—8.
“J. S., paper maker, recommended for relief, 20.
“Mrs. O., not only as she was recommended by gentlemen in Stockholm as a fit object of charity, but from personal observation of the very creditable manner in which she educates and brings up a large family on very slender means, 50.
During the year 1849 “to the chapel fund, for the services of religion performed by the Revd. Mr. Spurrell, 60.”
“My rent to the landlord, being in distress, and me the cousin of her Majesty’s Minister.”
“For the recovery of my husband’s tools, which were detained on board the Lubeck packet, because he could not pay his passage money, 50.”
But when we find “silk merchant, 78,” and “deduct for [7/8] fraudulent receipt, 98,” we are far out of our bearings; the home waters are left.
A connecting link between the two nations, in sympathetic cooperation, is found in a receipt from the Pastor i Clara, Joseph Wallin: it reads, “For distribution among the poor of St. Clara’s Parish, the undersigned has this day received the offertory, consisting of r. d. 28—12, which was collected at the service of the English Congregation, the 5th., October, 1845: with thankful acknowledgments.”
We cannot be far out in conjecturing that things had begun to get organized: it appears to be nebulous, and occasional; possibly the arrival of religious minded captains encouraged residents to join up in a service.
This preface to the actual subject before us—the English Church in Stockholm—is long-spun; let my apology be two facts; not only the eloquent plea of self-support and generosity, (both of which we still meet as worthy descendants of such an ancestry), but also the consideration, “from small beginnings great events arise”. We shall likewise recall the fact that British Sailors still come to this port, and sometimes stand in need of aid, in addition to what the consul is authorized to advance in their behalf. At the moment of writing, I am glad to observe that only last Sunday, we were desired by a sailor who has been for two months in the Serafimer-lazaret, to return thanks in Church for his recovery. I have never found any class more accessible to an appeal to his best instincts than is the British sailor.
We claim that he is rightly called our first and last line of defence; so he deserves the most careful treatment here; the starting-point of our church life, remains still among us, to keep alive our grateful memories of his service, cheerfully and smilingly performed. When he sees—as I hope he will do—our weather vane, and remembers that in 100 other ports of call “The flying Angel” welcomes him to a community where God’s minister is at work in his own tongue, let the sailor of every class be assured that we are brothers and sisters of his own nation, who will not pass him in the street without a greeting, much less let him feel shy of entering our church.
CHAPTER II. A BISHOP’S ENCOURAGEMENT.
When things take shape, they get formal: as they stiffen into regularity, language goes the same way. In 1842, the Bishop of London, “as being charged with the superintendence of English congregations foreign parts,” wrote to the Minister here, Sir Thomas Cartwright, lamenting that “members of our Church should be compelled, for lack of other provision, to attend the ministry of teachers whose proceedings were injudicious and irregular. These cast great discredit on our Church, because the Swedish people in general considered them to be our representatives. But, on far higher grounds, our fellow churchmen should not be deprived of their religious privileges. A regularly ordained clergyman would be well received by the Swedish Church, which is, like ours, Episcopal.” He asked for the minister’s support in raising subscriptions, and so to apply for an annual grant from Government under the Consular Act.
The minister immediately followed this up, by asking the consul to gauge the amount of local support that could be expected. A very active and affectionate part was taken by the united community (who seemed to be afire with enthusiasm); in 1848, a committee was appointed to negotiate the Bishop’s wish. This happy result was made the more easy, because subscriptions already promised amounted to £104.
A suitable place of worship was sought, and a list of subscribers opened for the provision of an Altar. Sacred vessels for celebration were supplied by Mr. Gordon. A pleasing-picture of brotherliness is found in the survival of two [9/10] charming letters: to “the rigt hounorable Colonel Pringle if I shall hear of any fit place, for the Reverend Mr. Williams, who you expect from England, to hold English Service. I take me the liberty to address you. I take it for granted that you have already fixed your attention on the place belonging to his Exy. Count de Geer, where Mr. Stephens and after him Mr. Scott kept English Services,—but you cannot get that place to rent. I asked Mr. Keyser this morning if he should have any objection if you should shoose to keep your English Service in our chapel, which is situated at Lilla Tradgardsgatan No. 12. He answered me that for his part he should not have the least objection and he doubted not that they other members of the Direction would object to it. Should you not yourself object to it, I daresay this matter may be arranged for you, the more so as they Englishmen at St. Petersburg had theire Services at the Moravian chapel there. If so you’ll be pleased to give Mr. Keyser a call, who will be able to tell you the price that the Direction will ask for your keeping the service every Sunday in the forenoon, for in the afternoon at six o’clock the Moravians have themselves their own meeting.” And the next day, came this:—
“Most hounorable sir, the Elders cannot thing of taking any hire, when the take in consideration the Brotherly Love and innumerable instances of liberality which the Englishmen have bestowed on their congregations not only in England but also abroad. If you therefore will be pleased to accept of their offer they will be heartily pleased, and as we have a smaler chapel and one greater one in the same place, you may choose either of the two.”
It took our people only a matter of three Days to assemble and thank the Elders of the Moravian Brotherhood for their kindness and liberality. But the expected arrival of Mr. Williams was unfortunately blocked by duties from which he could not get released, at King’s College Cambridge, of which he was a Fellow. He wrote at first that his heart danced within him at the prospect of coming, and that being prevented caused him bitterly to be disappointed; but again that an accidental meeting with the Bishop outside the College gates providentially renewed his hopes of getting here for Advent Sunday, and staying for six months, which is the best time if you can only have a Chaplain for half the year. And he might be able, through God’s blessing on His word and [10/11] Sacraments, to do something for the few English in that time. “If I am to come, you will pray that I may come in the fulness of the Blessing of the Gospel of Christ, and with you be refreshed.” The disappointment felt here was quite as acute, but not taken lying down; for letters were sent to the College as well as to Mr. Williams, imputing “grave blame and responsibility to those who had been the hindrance, by which many needy souls here were deprived of rights they were justified in expecting to enjoy”. Strong language that: but scarcely too strong for the case. It did not avail, and despair seemed to deaden the leaders here, with one fine exception, who stuck manfully to his guns, and would have no refusal. Others were for returning subscriptions and suspending all operations, but he would have none of it; for the “various cantrips of the faint-hearted warriors,” as he blandly termed them, were not a suitable start. For it always has been, and always will be difficult, to provide clergy in foreign parts. Combat with this abiding obstacle, was obviously important at the outset, and our folk were repeatedly disappointed. The search for the proper man continued; the chapel fund progressed, or at least, did not go back; the order for the altar was not countermanded, and alms were expended on charitable purposes. Those four facts are, in kernel, the human means of success, then as now.
The disappointment of Dec. 1848 was very largely allayed in March, 1849 by the arrival in Stockholm of Rev. Frederick Spurrell, of Dartford, Kent. With that commenced a long period of faithful work, seldom, if ever, interrupted. It was a brave venture of failh on the part both of the congregation and the man for whom they were responsible, and ventures of Faith seldom fail.
Very soon after, Her Majesty’s government were approached, to help us by meeting the local funds with a grant. Harmony between chaplain and flock warranted a hope of future permanence; and when, in October, he came to the end of his engagement, it was with warm expressions of good will on both sides that the first chaplain left Stockholm,—a good augury for the future. The next few years passed, apparently in great happiness, for there is no history to record, nor any documents available for reference. The great and continuous struggle against small resources went peacefully on; the congregation increased well (ministered to by men who have left [11/12] a distinct mark without the distinction of their names); as soon as 1855, the small chapel was changed for the larger where more light and better accommodation was obtainable. Add to this, the improvement of the altar, a new pulpit, and rumours of a harmonium, and you get a picture of thriving growth. “Curtain at the organ,” also contains a touch of nature that even we two generations later, will not miss; for we may recall the many laborious children who have hidden behind it, all except the dainty blower’s ankles; which was a becoming enough sight so long as the head was out of view: but when once the pumper overgrew his limits, and his back hair began bobbing up and down, and you almost heard his hard breathing,—then it was time to compose your face and hurry over the verses you had missed.
I gather that “mess-skjorta” means surplice: if it does, it was less costly to wash in those days than now, and considering how much our modern robe has shrunk since early Victorian days, that is saying much. And the same with wood: whereas we now pay a cool 40 kr. per fathom, before we can pile it on, I can shew you a receipt for four fathoms at rix d. 116, including all charges for measuring, storing, hire of cellar, and “drickspengar,” whatever that may be. In one year there was a deficit balance of £154, which must have been a nightmare to the treasurer and trustees, if we can for an instant imagine such men as Mr. Alfred May having anxieties on religious ventures of faith: judging by the serene calm of those who still bear amongst us his honoured name, perturbation of mind is the last thing he suffered from.
Externally all Europe was in an apprehension: our first chaplain doubted whether he would pass through Copenhagen safely, on account of the war then waging in 1849; and the time of the Crimean campaign was also a period when British keels would plough the Baltic to some purpose: the Vice-consul of the day had duties of honorable service of behalf of the Fleet, which reflected credit on him and brought him emolument; and reference was made in the Letters of Mr. Ellison (The chaplain appointed in July 1855), as to the disturbed condition and humiliation of our country, which he seemed to feel more in Dartford before he left, than after he settled down to his fresh work, with his old books and his new flock around him. He was a well-loved priest, whose [12/13] spirituality shone out even in the concerns of a business letter. It was during his three years of service that the Bishop of London once more came forward; he backed the application to the Government, who gave a grant equal to subscriptions from British sources. This far relieved financial pressure; the congregation began to count it undignified to hire the Moravian chapel at a pepper-corn rent of 3 r. d. per annum, even if that brotherhood should permit permanent use of their building. But the building of a place of worship for themselves was not a light question rapidly settled: the site must be secured by negotiations with the Foreign Office; the trust-deeds made out to British ownership; immense pains taken to provide against any doubt arising in after times (as it did arise), concerning the purely British right to manage and govern the property as our own. It was of course, partly with this consideration in mind that our Government stipulated, in the Consular Act, that grants would only meet the subscriptions of British subjects: thereby forestalling any claim on the part of foreigners to participate in managing British property. It was a point of immense moment to have this indisputable.
This period of settlement ended as it began with direct episcopal help. In August 1859, Bishop Trower held a confirmation; no other record is here to be found except the names of six gentlemen who made themselves responsible for hospitality, or in lieu of that guaranteed his expenses: they certainly could not have thought he was an extravagant guest, for his account at the Rydberg, made out to “HERR TRAWR,” for the whole of his stay of six nights, was only 209, r. d., and confirmation tours of Bishops abroad generally run into serious figures. It is probable, as we may be allowed to hope, that the days are past when Bishops have to put up at public hotels, while discharging duties in the places they visit: writing within a few weeks of welcoming our own Bishop here, I can only congratulate the British Community of Stockholm, on their good fortune in being able, and so handsomely willing, to rise to the honour of making his visit as thoroughly happy to him as to ourselves.
Any mind that delights in conjecture will probably go the length of believing that Bp. Trower felt how much better the Confirmation would, have appealed to the candidates, if [13/14] they could have enjoyed it in an English Church: and if he said anything of the kind, those ardent spirits who were in favour of facing all risks, so they obtained a church of their own, would use his remarks as a lever to exalt their arguments and raise the needful funds. But that is another chapter,—and the next.
CHAPTER III. A CHURCH OF OUR OWN.
Bishop Trower’s name is down on the first list of subscribers to the new effort.
The appeal sent out was as simple and free from verbiage as could be. The consul and chaplain jointly signed a document, setting forth that since 1855 a chaplaincy had been established here; worshipping in a hired meeting place, the community had grown not alone in numbers, but also in the self-respect that hopes for its own spiritual home. Swedes attach due weight to the outward sign of a religious character: and the faithful British churchmen, whose avocations keep them far from the fountains of their early religious instruction, would be strengthened in their union, by having a central religious home of their own. The estimate of cost made out was for £1,000, and there was reason to hope that H. M’s Government would grant a sum equal to that raised here.
In all respects this manly statement met a fitting response. Subscribers made generous promises: the dealings with Swedes were facilitated by mutual good-will, the Foreign Office met the application with official courtesy and rectitude, and the estimated cost quite reached expectations, and a bit more; indeed, in the light-hearted way estimates have, it rapidly danced up to thrice its height: but things were on the move, and once let the Englishman abroad feel safe, though out of his depth, and he will strike out. At least that is what was done between 1855 and 1866, when, after many trying hindrances had done their worst, the church was completed and opened.
But we must not anticipate. Two gentlemen gave their bond, as trustees of the church, to the Government for due [15/16] payment of an amount (£1,114) equivalent to half the requisite sum: they were Dr. Minton and Mr. May.
The original contractor did not see the work through: of that I must leave Mr. Melander to speak; his description, written in excellent Swedish, has suffered in my novice hands, by translation. Very few remain with us of those who witnessed what our veteran architect there relates: but those who, like him, survive the old edifice will be glad to hear that the coins deposited at the stone-laying in 1863, were taken up by his hands in this the Jubilee year, and have since found a fitting resting place with their younger brethren of this year’s minting in the daughter church, where, under the stone of the new foundation, they were laid on March 12th. The paper in which they were wrapped must have been exposed to much damp in the old foundation; for, though reputedly parchment, it was so decrepit that young eyes, of preternatural sharpness, could decipher naught of the inscription. Happily we can remedy this, for a copy was stored in a much drier place,—to wit, the archive box of the church, and this is how it reads:—
THIS, THE FOUNDATION STONE OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH OF SAINT PETER AND SIGFRID, BUILT BY PRIVATE SUBSCRIPTIONS WITH THE AID OF A GRANT FROM HER MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT, WAS LAID ON TUESDAY IN EASTER WEEK THE SEVENTH DAY OF APRIL IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1863, BEING THE TWENTY SIXTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF HER MAJESTY, VICTORIA, QUEEN OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, AND IN THE FOURTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF HIS MAJESTY, CHARLES THE FIFTEENTH KING OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF SWEDEN AND NORWAY, by Thomas Carew Hunt, Her Majesty’s Consul, in the presence of J. E. Salmon. R. H. Blakey. Thos. Lyon. Henry Hunt. Henry Tottie. Thos. Minton. James Paton. Lockwood.
The Foundation-stone was inscribed with four letters, carved on its surface: they are doubtless the initials of the architect and first builder, Albert Svennson, James Souttar. They are now prominent still in the west end wall of the porch.
The church was named after St. Sigfrid, from the fact of his being an Englishman, and of his having taken so large a share in the conversion to Christianity of the people of this country.
Among the names of persons connected with that ceremony and what followed, I find with much interest Mrs. Boevie, who has since left a handsome bequest to the church, Mrs. Middleship, Mrs. Thorell, who are still members of our congregation, and three whose relatives we honour among the household words of our community,—Mr. May, Mr. Ap George, and Mr. Gronlund.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE FORMER ENGLISH CHURCH IN STOCKHOLM, BY A. E. MELANDER, ARCHITECT.
So far as I know it, I repeat from memory the occasion of the purchase of the site No. 4 Lindbacken (in Adolf Friedrik’s Parish) Rörstrandsgatan, on which the previous English Church was erected.
I was at that time, and until 1871 in the Surveyor’s office of the English Architect, James Souttar. The foundations were already laid when he arrived. The Church Building Committee, in 1863, comprised among others, Sir G. S. Jerningham (Minister), J. C. Hunt (Consul), J. E. Samson (vice-consul), and J. A. Wessman (builder).
The Consul managed the Church Finances, and was a specially energetic and indefatigable man in the building of the church, personally present every day and following its work, and carefully financing it with every interest. Highly esteemed in Swedish society, he was warmly enthusiastic in our Swedish concerns. At a Court ball in Stockholm, his only daughter (a wonderfully popular girl) caught a chill, and died soon after, of inflammation of the lungs: after which [17/18] lamentable occurrence her father removed to Holland, whither he had his daughter’s remains carried.
When the foundation stone was completed, Wessman the contractor took his wife’s life and his own, solely and entirely as the outcome of strained family relations, and not in any way as connected with the contract for the church. The contract was immediately transferred to another, A. M. Svensson, at a price of 60,000 Kronor (about £3,000) upon which he made a distinct loss. The foundations already laid by his predecessor proved faulty, and therefore had to be partly changed and strengthened.
The reason for the site being so badly situated, even for that period, was due,—it is right to say,—to the congregation’s very straitened means. The vendor was the late C. A. Eriksson, builder, who was moreover the owner of all the open yards giving on the church site, and of the new buildings adjacent on the north, east, and west. It was sold to the English Congregation at the low figure of Kr. 3,000, and it consisted of 8,000 sq. feet. This was, doubtless, largely due to the fact that the position was hardly attractive as a dwelling-place. For it gave on to the narrow Rörstrandsgatan, mean and cobbled, which has been since re-paved. In the middle of the southside was the ugly Spinning-house, and the County Prison, with its unsightly elevation painted red; neighbouring on the west was a common public-house of ill repute.
Though one of the worst spots in the capital, the site was made in a measure acceptable by the proximity of Drottning-gatan, where the best English and Swedish society, and the Foreign Legations, at that time dwelt. Possibly the English residents of that day had an eye to the future, and foresaw what the district would later become from a business point of view.
In the bill of sale between the English Congregation and Ericsson it was stipulated as an obligation, that
(I) The vendor should not erect a building nearer than 15 feet from the church.
(II) On the site made over, no other building than a church was to be erected.
(III) The vendor had the right to run slops und surface-water over the church site, from his houses and yards at the back,
 Respecting (I); this was annulled,—according to my opinion—, when the owners of plots 3 and 7 in Quarter Lindbacken were allowed to erect sky-scrapers four and five storeys high, on Ihe church boundaries. The second condition ought, for the same reason as the first, to be considered obsolete, when these high buildings almost entirely excluded light and air from the church. And finally, according to my idea, the third proviso has ceased for a long time to be operative, on the score that no drainage whatever in the proper sense existed in the original instance, for (a) the outlet in question actually consisted, for the time being, of open gutters similar to what is found in other parts of the capital, (b) the gutters over the church site debouched, east and west, in an open fall to the lower level of Rorstrands-gatan where the contents of drainage, and every kind of uncleanness, kitchen refuse, scraps, &c, together with foul-smelling sink water, had to make its way as best it could through open gutters right down to Barnhus-viken: no underground drainage of any kind was to be found before 1880. (c) By the street regulations in this district newly established, the original Rorstrands-gatan has been relaid on the south side of the old site of the English Church; and this new bit of street has been sold by the state as a building plot. For this reason, therefore, no obligation for drainage from houses and plots at the back of the Church site, has any effect whatever.
Lastly, I may observe that in the declining years of Mr. Eriksson’s life, I was personally acquainted with him, and often discussed questions of obligations, and servitudes (e. g. “ancient lights”) with him. From these conversations I gathered the impression that he acknowledged for his part, all such questions to have been abolished by the new regulations and transactions which had been published since the church was built.
At the opening of the church in 1866, Bishop Whitehouse (U.S.A.) performed the ceremony, and with him were associated the Swedish Archbishop Reuterdahl, and Bishops Bring, Sandeberg and Flensberg. Consul Barclay presented an organ, and the opening was celebrated by a dinner in Phoenix Gotel, Drottning-gatan.
When the church was demolished this year 1913, I was one day asked by the foreman whether it was true (as his workmen reported and believed) that 28 workmen were [19/20] accidentally killed during the construction of the church. I told him to inform his men that not a single labourer of ours was injured on the occasion mentioned. The rumour arose from the fact that in the same year 1866, while the tower of the Roman Catholic Church was building in Norra Smedje-gatan, it fell: with the sad result that 30 workmen lost their lives.
It may be interesting to observe that I was today present at the removal of the old church foundation-stone, where I witnessed, 50 years ago, the depositing of documents, coins, &c., with the accustomed ceremonies. At that solemnity, the Consul remarked among other things, that the foundation was now laid for a temple which would exist for a century. A. E. Melander.
Besides the obstacles already set forth, many other hindrances to progress kept cropping up, both of the kind we all expect, and also the unrehearsed incidents that are only too familiar.
The chaplain was so ill on Christmas day 1862, that he sent his good wishes for others to enjoy a happy time, which he could not expect for himself: and people were so far from thinking a chaplain should be held unreasonably human in caring for the body’s needs, that they provided others to do his duties during absence, enforced by illness, or desirable as a respite. And I notice in the dusty correspondence I am wading through, the same happy experience that is my own lot,—a remarkable consideration on the part of the officers towards their chaplains, however wayward.
The architect who had plans made out was one Mr. Gustavus Hamilton who charged only 2 % to 3 % for his work, a very small sum compared with the 7 °/0 that is now expected in England, and far more elsewhere. His cheque for 40 gus., was mislaid in the post, and had to be hunted, but’ without avail. Sympathy is due to him when he resents the complaint made against the valuelessness of his drawings; seeing as he points out the Committee chose in the meanwhile to alter the style of the architecture. From this difficulty we have, in the re-erection of the new church, had complete immunity; for it was long ago decided that the same building (not one like it, but the same with the same building [20/21] materials) would be set up, the only novelty being a new site and some fresh furniture within. Our old friend—the warming apparatus—, of course commanded a large discussion, and one amusing point that emerged was that the Vestry was not the most suitable place to set it: the chaplains who preceded me were tall men (to judge by the height off the ground that surplice pegs were set), but it was far too tall an order that they should monopolise the source of heat. So stoves underground were proposed, and flues to disperse the warmth to the aisles: why they were not so treated or how and when they were afterwards altered, if that was the original decision, does not float up out of the papers at present being studied: but more than a few of us will rejoice that an honest attempt is being made in the daughter church to spread heat impartially from ten different centres ranged round the outside walls.
Between 1863 and 1866 (when the church was opened) a visit was made by the Bishop of Victoria; and his counsel, both spiritually and as an experienced man of affairs, must have been no small help to our leaders who needed sympathy and support in every direction. And this was ungrudgingly given by persons of all sorts and conditions; this can be readily seen from the full lists of subscribers frequently written out, but especially from those which account for the period 1858 to 1875.; a time when there assuredly was most need to claim all Government help possible; that was only given upon the proof that donations came from British people resident in or passing through Stockholm. For this purpose their actual signatures were obtained and kept, unless they purposely wished to remain anonymous, in which case many entered their subscriptions under assumed names. A few quotations will suffice to show the varied character of the list,—Earl of Harrowby, Shipmasters, “nemo,” Bp. of London, A traveller, a dissenter, Duke of Roxburghe, M. Akerhjalm, Baroness von Rosen, Hon. Cecil Ashley, “Nelly,” A Catholic, Lord Alfred Churchill, an American, R. Pole-Carew, Rev. T. H. Papillon, E. M. Erskine, Miss Church, A British friend, Madame Labinsky, Mrs. Frykholm, John Morgan, le Faineant.
The sexton is responsible for his own orthography, which the compiler of these memoranda will not presume to improve upon. Repairs to the roof in 1868, and doubtless other causes which cannot here be traced, left a debt of £800, to raise which among other expedients recourse was had to one means that never fails to attract attention to facts, though it seldom produces immediate cash,—a concert, in the management of which occurs an item for the payment of constables on duty!
This liability was met by taking out 15 bonds in the names of trustees: and they were all discharged and cancelled, long before the stipulated limit of time. They are still preserved.
The work went as briskly on as could be under the guidance of “The Committee appointed to superintend the temporal affairs of the Church,” (which is the official title for several years) and by the end of 1870 the unhappy necessity, through no mismanagement on our side, of facing mortgages annually, was reduced to £500, due to be paid in full by 1877.
But though the Church building itself was thus virtually if not technically safe, a new trial was soon to put an increased strain on slender resources. This was in 1873, when the Government grant to chaplaincies was stopped. If it had been continued, the severe and prolonged and worrying struggle might have been much lightened; for now that the state had withdrawn from the trusteeship, the whole responsibility of ownership, management, and finance fell on the committee, whose means were reduced by half the yearly income. The burden was a distracting one, even for a united congregation, but when slight causes of friction developed, and disunion followed, a new chapter of actual peril to the community’s life was begun.
CHAPTER IV. THE GREAT SCHISM.
There is no pleasure, although much profit of experience, in the record of events from 1873 to 1878: but no account of our church however scrappy, could pretend to a fair treatment of facts, if this unfortunate quarrel were omitted. One thing I hope to be pardoned for doing,—the omission of all names which if mentioned might recall painful relations between individuals.
To go back for a moment and recast our memories of the constitution of the church. From Aug. 27, 1741, the free exercise of religion was enjoyed: the building was consecrated and opened in 1866: the Government grant implied that “all Her Majesty’s subjects” had the right of attending and voting at annual meetings: when the grant was stopped the government gave up its right to direct the management in any way, and the Consul ceased to be officially connected with the church, but his protection could be claimed (in case of need) as much by the members of the church as by any other British subjects: the affairs of the congregation were duly entrusted to a Committee, consisting of a Treasurer and four members, with power to fill vacancies if any occurred before the annual meeting, when the election took place. As the committee had no control in spiritual matters, for which the Chaplain was responsible to the Bishop alone, so also he, though ex officio a member of the committee, was without power in temporal affairs, and this position was and is most accurately safe-guarded on both sides.
In the spring of 1873 the license of the acting Chaplain expired, and no fresh license was issued by the Bishop of [24/25] London for his successor; why, there is no record. The new committee, appointed in April, took up the question of providing a Parsonage for the Chaplain, which was then as it always will be, a most desirable part of church organisation. A Ladies’ Association was formed to arrange a Bazaar for raising funds to that end. Owing to a “little difference of opinion,” three names of prominent members were withdrawn from it, and the chaplain resigned no less than three times, alleging that injurious statements had been made about him. The committee regretfully accepted his resignation, and proceeded to invite candidates to apply. But it would appear that he repented his precipitancy, for he requested and obtained the good offices of H. M.’s Minister to intervene, but without effect, except that that officer of the Crown entirely withdrew from the dispute, and forbade any meetings being held in the Legation; affirming that the English residents were the governors of the church property, and the congregation were to appoint the Chaplain. Meanwhile the chaplain convened a meeting of “English speaking” persons, and a second committee was appointed at it, consisting chiefly of Swedish persons, and elected by others who were not English, and all without authority: this body’ was called “The Swedish Committee,” and the original committee sent an account of the position to the Foreign Secretary, remonstrating most guardedly and respectfully that they were now obliged (failing the aid of the Minister who acted the part of Gallio) to entrust themselves to the protection of the Consul. This gentleman, besides being a distinguished officer in one of the services, was also by faith a Roman Catholic, a fact which set him entirely free from any suspicion of partisanship: he could not, as he also would not, side with either party, nor attempt to adjudicate between them, but solely protected the rights of Britons resident abroad, and was the custodian of their ecclesiastical property, while legal proceedings were going on: for that is what it came to: three cases were instituted, two civil and one criminal.
While newspapers here were reporting what transpired, the legal Committee did their plain duty in pleading with those at home to send out a peacemaker who should restore the calm enjoyed for the previous 20 years. The Colonial and Continental Church Society promised a grant of £50 a [25/26] year for help towards the Chaplain’s stipend, on condition that they should nominate to the Bishop.
A crisis was reached when the Chaplain used the pulpit to announce a meeting of the Swedish committee, the object of which was to outvote the English by a number of people who wanted the church, but who were declared by the law of Sweden to be Swedish subjects, and as such to be members of the Lutheran Communion. To stop this, an appeal sent home was answered by the Earl of Derby by telegram, “Inform Consul and Committee, British Govt. will not interfere with any meetings however irregular; take steps to prevent any person officiating as British Chaplain without a license from the Bishop of London.” Upon this the Committee instantly acted next day, summarily dispensed with the Chaplain’s services, as not being under license, resolved to close the church until further notice, requested the Minister to get the church doors sealed by the Grand Governor, and procure an extra police constable to protect the seal. In view of possible encroachments, they solicited the official protection of the Consul, and placed in his custody the church, its keys, and all property connected therewith, pending instructions from H. M.’s Government. A power of attorney was given to a representative to act in England, and counsel was employed here to defend the cases in the Swedish courts, which the Consul watched on behalf of the Government. Reconciliation was attempted with no result, a recommendation by the Foreign Office to vest all property with the Bishop of London was rejected by the Swedish Committee, as was also the proposal to put the church on the same footing as the Swedish Church in London, and the mediation of the Sec. of the C. and C. Ch. Soc. was repudiated by the same body, in spite of his making a special journey to Stockholm to introduce a new and better spirit into the negotiations.
The action of the rightful Committee was confirmed and approved in detail by the Congregation, called to a general Meeting, and persons unable to attend were there represented by proxy: at least five of these are still in Sweden.
No wonder the expenses were so large as to induce the publication of a special appeal for help, addressed to the British Public generally, was by men who confessed themselves “most awkwardly placed, being busy and ill able to afford either time or money for a legal contest. They are [26/27] resisting this unjust claim as well as they can, and paying the cost of such resistance out of their own pockets, with no other interests than that of members of the Church of England, and of British subjects defending British rights. Notwithstanding the heavy debt incurred by our defence, serious repairs that are requisite for the building, and the difficulty in raising the Chaplain’s stipend, and for Incidental expenses, we are prepared to assume this grave responsibility, and to exert ourselves to the utmost to provide for the due celebration of Divine worship.” There spoke Dignity and Sincerity. The simple conditions stipulated were:—
(I) That the suits instituted against the Committee be withdrawn.
(II) That the Church property and supreme ecclesiastical authority be vested in the Bishop of London, by whom the Chaplain shall be licensed, after being approved by the Congregation and nominated by one of the Church Societies.
(III) That voting at General Meetings be restricted to persons of full age, resident in or near Stockholm, who can prove they are members of the Church of England.
Finally, on Nov. 24 1876, (the date of a meeting of our Committee) I find an entry of the judgment delivered: it found the appointment and proceedings of the Swedish Committee entirely illegal, re-instated the old Committee, but adjudged that each party was to pay its own costs. Against this both sides appealed, but the court in May ’78 upheld both the fine and the costs: litigation was thereby closed; and the balance against the Church Funds, due to four members, amounted to kr. 4,820, with outstanding claims of kr. 700.
The settlement of Church affairs was left in the hands of a Committee to be maintained and continued by annual selection until the debt on the Defence Fund should be fully liquidated.
Here the minutes shew a blank, from May 31, ’78, to Oct. 6. 1880, and all the attempts to recover records for the intervening period have proved fruitless.
CHAPTER V. STEADY GROWTH.
A real and firm hope of early solution of the trouble was entertained in May, 1877, when all parties agreed to receive a chaplain, to replace the litigious cleric who suddenly departed seven months before. Services were held on “neutral ground”—a fact that shewed the Corinthian strife still smouldering: some had their Paul and some their Apollos, and they were still dividing the Christ. Thus the Grand Hotel became the centre of our worship, but no place was found for Ascension-day: let us hope, not for lack of churchliness, but only for Hotel reasons. Commerce at home and pleasure-seeking here is ready to obliterate that,—the greatest of all religious festivals. Attendance, large at first, soon fell, from poor advertisement, and the popularity of first communions in Stockholm churches, and—the chaplain sorrowfully adds—disinclination on the part of some.
The Bishop of London offered advice, blending courage with discretion:—“Should the keys be offered, I authorize you to accept them and use the church, but only on condition that such permission on my part, and such use on yours, be not taken as expressing opinions on questions still pending, or as in any way prejudicing any claim of right made to the legal possession of the church.” This was accordingly done: in the event of the services terminating, the keys were to be returned to the Governor: the Committee failed to obtain them from him, for he delivered them to the Chaplain only: with a few others, therefore, the Committee left the church. Residents, being in one way or another interested, unhappily absented themselves “on principle.” The one safe guide was [28/29] apparently neglected, though it is familiar to every child,—“as we forgive those, &c.”
Another Bishop, too, (the first appointed to direct our church in Northern and Central Europe,) used his good offices to allay the distress: the meeting he presided over at the Consulate was rich in sweet reasonableness. The same body that provided his remuneration and defrayed his expenses, the Colonial and Continental Church Society, about this time asked for the church to be opened daily for private devotions: but this was found to be unworkable, without any reason given. Subsequent chaplains had to win back bit by bit those who had renounced their privileges, and though much of that part of the work remains to be done, we are not despairing. Entries in the Chaplain’s book reveal gradual and steady recovery, resulting from patient effort and unceasing prayer. Chaplains’ notes are very indicative.
“Several ladies decorated the church for Christmas-day (41 kr. subscribed for this purpose).”
“Weekly celebrations begun: Friday evening services in Lent”.
A mistake in judgment seems to have been committed, in failing to relax the rubric, “at the least three.” For charity’s sake, in a little handful of worshippers as we are, it is surely “unreasonable to exact the same rigour as if we lived in crowded Lancashire. 1 therefore have arranged that not one single soul present shall go away unsatisfied, hungry, and cold, for the lack of a fellow-communicant.
Experiments were made with Evensong, by altering the time, and abandoning it for the winter, only to resume it for a few weeks until people went out of town for the summer: one result was that, for four years, evening prayer was only said some dozen times. This of course spells rank disregard and utter failure. Even if the congregation has lost the good custom, and the committee “permits” the omission, there is a Higher authority to which we chaplains are responsible, although our people fail through the attractiveness of pleasure or fashionable pursuits. If one standard is lowered, it is only the prelude to later losses, and the whole of Sunday suffers in the end.
From August ’78 to the same month in ’79, the church was closed, towards the end of which period, Mr. Ellison—our [29/30] first chaplain, and one very much beloved,—conducted services for one Sunday, to the great satisfaction of the people.
Here are instances of trying experiences:—“On arriving at the church, we found the gates and doors securely nailed by order of the late representative. The congregation waited until about 11, 15, and then dispersed with exclamations of astonishment, surprise, and indignation.
“Service not held on New Year’s Day, Epiphany, and Ash Wednesday, on account of the difficulty of sufficiently warming the church. This is written with frozen ink.”
“Church closed for repairs for three months; services elsewhere.”
The British and Foreign Bible Society provided a Chaplain from 1880-83.
A bazaar held in ’82 for the repair fund produced kr. 5,000 net. The repairs were “tightening” the roof, and relaying the foundations, which most unscripturally were not built upon the rock.
A Parsonage Fund was opened in ’83, and in addition to a gift of six chairs towards the furniture, £113:13:0 was raised: to what use this was afterwards put is not disclosed.
Objection was raised against certain notices given out, and the chaplain had to get along somehow without churchwardens, for not a body would accept office.
A serious difference occurred between chaplain and Committee, which, though somewhat later in date, is suitable here, as shewing two things:—advancing methods, and disagreement without bad blood. The point was this. The salary of £450 was to be made up from various sources, on the condition that the Chaplain should plead in England for the work, having all his expenses plaid, and his place supplied in absence at the cost of the congregation. One source of his income was to be £50 from the Mission to Sailors, and he was guarantor for it himself. Therefore he utilised, in his appeal, the strongest references to our work among sailors here, and with such good effect that when he returned, much of the collected money was earmarked for the “Sailors”. Thus he claimed to meet his guarantee, and demanded £50: but (he Committee did not see it at all in that light, urging that his job was to get support for the chaplaincy, because, unless a chaplain were here and regularly supported, it was futile to talk of his work among sailors. The debate was honourably [30/31] pursued, and the correspondence was free from excess of frankness: but the end was separation, not however without the Chaplain receiving his £675 in full for 18 months of harassing work,—for “deputation” work is real toil; Experto crede.
These years therefore display many threads which began to get woven into our scheme, and it remains to show how they were developed into our present texture by varied operations.
CHAPTER VI. ODD SERMONS BY STRANGE PREACHERS.
If ever clergy abroad have been held in slight regard, not to say contempt at times, it has been chiefly due to the want of care shewn in “getting a parson out:” that’s just the difficulty, to get them and their traces out, when once an irresponsible man is on duty. The extreme need felt here at all times, to safe-guard the chaplaincy in this respect, is one reason for the high level of devotion that is now so noticeable. It was once my lot—as a roving missionary in England—to light upon a spruce little dandy. His conduct—like his clothing—was flawless: indeed it was his trousers that first excited suspicion, as well as admiration, for they never looked as if he used them for kneeling, and you must know that immaculate creases are not so much a credit to a parson as to the modern “nut”. Well, he was a nice amiable young playful thing,—ready for all picnics—and quite the High-Church breed, ritualistic too, with things that made you ask “what’s that for?” He went smiling along, saying airy things. My faraway suspicions were verified, when I overheard him say of a borrowed stole, “Yes that’s just a part of my travelling kit”. He was all over his frame the desirable one, until a revelation burst on the rector who had loft him “in charge,”—a condition he deserved in a less delightful sense. After living board-free, the cynosure of neighbouring eyes (which made us, the less resplendent ones, mad with jealousy,) he scooped in, together with Two guineas a week, a few unconsidered trifles, and made off. “Wanted,” but not traced, he vanished: and the only comfort obtainable was a special [32/33] act of Parliament to legalize the marriages he had performed with much grace, though he was not a priest at all.
All this is nothing at all to do with Stockholm, but it might well have been if things had not been strictly watched. As it is, out of just 40 chaplains in 64 years, no less than 30 have been here for very short stays. Nobody objects to a parson who seeks a holiday and takes duty at the same time: it affords a pleasant—even necessary—change from the hum-drum, both for people and priest: but very much of it, in large doses, is apt to break the continuity, and produce a lack of permanence that does not at all help a residential congregation, such as we have here. Like what the sailor calls the “Yachting Parson,” the sudden visitant, who will most likely be seen never again, brings a sense of hurry, dash, and sometimes brilliance which is less devotional than meteoric; he is apt to flash through enjoyably, leaving a darkness behind for his successor to dispel. He pounces out with cheap reforms, asking that windows may be protected with wire, and on enquiry the wire is there already: he gets a nauseous notice put up, requesting worshippers not to expectorate on the church-floor, and that in a language the offenders cannot read: he sees damage to the tower ascribed to pigeons, and institutes legal advice whether it is lawful to kill them, (as if that were a way, to decoy them to other places to build in): and conversation on church topics over the teacup ceases to be at all serious, beyond the grave comparisons and contrasts that are let fly between him and other stars of less or more magnitude.
Seldom does it occur to the stray visitor what immense importance is involved in a well-worded notice stuck on each kneeling-place, how extraordinary is the exact golden mean of getting people to feel just warn enough and not too warm (how we all differ in temperature, as in temper), and what a priceless treasure is a steady old verger, who knows our names and even our peculiarities, and loves us all. The raising of the insurance of the church is of no moment to him, he scarcely has time to do more than complain that churchwardens don’t provide writeable ink (“it is so gritty and hairy”). In two words—and it is high time to stop this tirade—, we are very fortunate that our many chaplains that have come to do duty occasionally, have been so carefully selected before they were sent out, that the marks they have left behind [33/34] are those of faithful men with a responsible sense of their privilege in coming.
Eight men have, between them, covered 52 years out of our total of 64, and when we attribute to their guidance and steadiness the solid fact, that so many laymen are joyfully willing to share the burdens of organization and the labours of watchful prudence, the names we shall recall are Spurell, Ellison, Blakey, Weakly, Case, Bennett, Shepherd and Smith.
CHAPTER VII. THE ENDOWMENT FUND.
Our church expenses have been met by many and various means: the one staring fact that leaps to the eye at every turn is that we have largely—very largely—, depended for help outside Sweden: and never have we failed to find a generous response, when our real needs have reached our kin and fellow-countrymen at home.
Let it be always clear that the congregation does its absolute best, and always more than others in England (or perhaps the same people in England) would do in home parishes. This is right, for the Englishman abroad has to unlearn the habits of not-giving, which spring from heavily endowed parishes.
But in spite of this, the total provided here never has been enough to supply our needs. The large-hearted General Fund is a generous parent, but he has to swallow up all the supply before he can dispense his bounty. Hence, from time to time, need has been found to start quite a bewildering group, viz., Repairs, Emergency, Organ, Mission to Seamen, Choir, Parsonage, Building. Setting this side by side with “Poor-box” of this time a century ago, we see how far we have travelled.
From home, The Government, The Bible Society, and The C. and C. Ch. Society helped for many years. But in 1884 a new and very determined effort was made to release ourselves from dependence, and them from the burden of supporting us.
A strong committee framed this appeal:—
 “Since 1875, when the Government grant was withdrawn, the payment of the chaplain’s stipend, and all other expenses which are necessarily heavy, were thrown upon the congregation. Their resources proved altogether inadequate, and consequently the church was closed for two periods (7 and 10 months respectively), and besides the services were often conducted by clergymen who visited Stockholm for short periods only. In 1880, after further troubles, the Bible Society kindly consented to the request that their head agent for Sweden, residing in Stockholm, whose salary was £200 per annum, should be appointed as chaplain: by which action all difficulties were removed, as the subscriptions to the church, added to the above amount, formed an adequate stipend. In 1883, however the Bible Society closed their work in Sweden, and withdrew their agent: so the chaplaincy again became vacant. It was unanimously determined to make an effort to raise a fund of at least £3000, as being the only means of securing the welfare of the church for the future and its maintenance in a satisfactory condition in a foreign capital. When this is secured, the Stockholm chaplaincy will be regarded as a desirable preferment, so that the Bishop of London, in whom it is proposed to vest the patronage, will be able when vacancies occur to make suitable appointments.
“Of the chaplain’s duties, which are varied and numerous, the most important has reference to the sailors: the total of men visiting as British sailors in this year 4667. A certain proportion of this very large and annually increasing number of British sailors is left in hospital when their vessels sail. Such men, being totally ignorant of the Swedish language, are wholly dependent on the chaplain’s assistance to make their wants known to doctors and nurses, to communicate with their homes, and for comforts which patients in hospital usually receive from relatives and friends. They set the greatest value on his visits, which do much to alleviate the sufferings of men so unfortunately situated.
“Every year crews shipwrecked on the eastern coasts of Sweden are brought to Stockholm, and while awaiting reshipment, are under the chaplain’s charge: and during open water, which is usually from April to December, he visits the vessels lying in port.
“During the summer months, the services are largely [36/37] attended by English and American travellers who gladly avail themselves of the opportunity of joining in public worship.
“By far the greater number of English-speaking residents in Stockholm can only contribute small sums towards the maintenance of the church.”
The Endowment Fund thus inaugurated, totalled in 1885, £473, in ’86, £731, in ’89, £902.
The congregation, or the subscribers to the church expenses, had nothing whatever to do with the foundation of this Committee or its object,—it was a perfectly independent arrangement.
The restrictions were so clearly defined from the beginning, that none of the capital or interest was to be touched until the sum collected amounted to at least £3000.
A great Bazaar was held in 1889, which was mainly worked by ladies; and the profit (over £670) was handed to the Fund.
In the coronation year of one of its earliest subscribers, 1902, the goal was reached, and £3000 obtained. A more fitting commemoration could not well be wished.
After a restful pause of a few years, (for these supreme efforts cannot be continuously kept up), The Crown Princess graciously accepted the patronage of the movement, and made personally an endeavour to increase the amount to £5000. Last February, Mr. Johnson, the present chairman, was able to tell us that the amount to the credit of the Fund stood at ever £5000,—a result for which we shall continue to be thankful to Her Royal Highness.
Facts are so readily forgotten that we must not refrain—even at the risk of being tedious—, that application for help in this respect has been in no instance made to any others than Englishmen or Americans.
CHAPTER VIII. FINANCE ON FIRM FOOTING.
By H. Montagu Villiers, M.V.O., H. B. M. Consul.
For certain periods ’76 to ’79, the Church was closed because its “resources proved altogether inadequate.”
Closed for Xmas and Easter: closed during the season when residents occupy their town homes: imagine the feelings of those who had worked so hard and so lovingly, to build the church, who had seen the handsome structure dedicated and opened for public worship, who had enjoyed its privileges for years, only now to be forced to shut its doors and extinguish its light.
By Consular Act for the support of churches and chapels in foreign parts, we had benefited by Government funds: this enabled us to pay a chaplain. In ’75, the act was repealed, and all expenses thrown on the congregation. Till ’80, worship in the church was mainly dependent on the kindness of clergymen visiting Stockholm for short periods only. Nothing was regular: imagine the gloom.
In ‘80, the British and Foreign Bible Society kindly acceded to the request that their head agent for Sweden, residing in Stockholm, whose salary was £200 per ann. should be appointed as chaplain. This added to local subscriptions, formed an adequate stipend: in ’83 however, the Society closed their work in Sweden, and withdrew their agent: so the chaplaincy was again vacant: but it was the darkest hour that preceded the dawn.
In ‘84 by the Bishops advice, it was determined to raise an Endowment fund. The faith of this persistent congregation [38/39] has been justified. All the names would be recorded if space allowed it: Lady Bloomfield “to start the Endowment fund” gave £100 in memory of Gen. Lord Bloomfield G. C. B., K. C. H.; and H. R. H. the Prince of Wales (afterwards king Edward VII) graciously added his name.
Meanwhile the Colonial and Continental Church Society (on condition of nominating the chaplain subject to approval) had consented to grant £50 a year to his stipend, an arrangement which continued to the end of 1907.
In view of later events, and in proof of the consistent policy of the committee, it is interesting to read the minutes of a meeting, at which it was unanimously decided to take no step which would indissolubly bind the church to any Society, but rather to raise an Endowment fund, even though temporary embarrassments might result from the immediate withdrawal of an annual grant.
“Mr. Luck also pointed out that the fact of the Society withdrawing their grant would strengthen our position as to obtaining funds from England, for the church then would not be officially connected with any party”.
The task the congregation set themselves was to raise £3,000 in order to obtain £150 interest per annum.
On May 31, 98 the total amount collected and invested was £1,526. In 1899 a bazaar in Stockholm netted kr. 12,367, which with other concurrent donations raised the fund by about £700. In the list of donors appears the name of H. M. Queen Victoria.
By Dec. 1901, the fund had risen to £3,000, but it was invested in securities which yielded only £110 interest. Thus although the desired sum was obtained the annual income was not yet in hand: consequently it was decided in 1902 to begin using half the interest, but to allow the other half to accumulate till at least £150 a year had been assured. It was also decided slightly to increase the chaplains stipend; and to make this completion a memorial of the coronation of King Edward VII. unfortunately the desired result was not immediately attained.
The chaplain who had been with us many years was offered in 1907 work which he decided to accept. In view of exceptional circumstances the congregation generously collected a sum to enable his daughters to continue their education in England: and also paid him £150 annually as a [39/40] retiring grant. At this juncture the C. and C. C. Soc. made a new arrangement. Instead of a fixed £50 a year they guaranteed to make up any deficiency existing in the current accounts, after paying a chaplain £300 a year. Nomination was to be in their hands subject to the bishops approval and acceptance by the congregation. Their grant was limited to £300, but fortunately this sum was never reached. On Dec. 31, 1910 this plan terminated automatically, but was prolonged by mutual agreement till Oct. 1, 1911 as a more satisfactory date, for rents of flats here are nearly always dated from Oct. Re-investment of our funds produced a much larger income. At this time the committee calculated the annual deficit at £100 if the chaplain received a stipend of £300, and this in view of the high cost of living, was the minimum they ought to offer. They were further informed that the society were feeling heavy calls from new fields of church work, and were disinclined any longer to contribute £100 a year if at all to Stockholm. A very important letter was sent by the committee of their society, which gives such a clear view of the situation that it is worth quoting from. At the same time it places clearly and deservedly on record deep feelings of gratitude to that society for its financial aid during many years. “The committee consider that it will leave an annual deficit of £100 which they must try to obtain from the mother country. In return for this financial aid they are anxious to ascertain whether your society wish to retain the nomination in your gift, first because they feel that in consequence of the generous aid which for many years you have liberally granted your wishes should be their first consideration: secondly because they understand that recent circumstances, particularly the demands of the colonies, have made a difference in the manner in which your society regards this matter. Should you wish to retain the nomination the majority of the congregation would earnestly desire to arrange accordingly: but should you wish to withdraw from the expense connected with this church, they will endeavour to obtain a grant from other quarters, but only if it is really your wish to relinquish the nomination. As the right to nominate is all they can offer in return for a grant, they feel bound to couple the one with the other. Should they fail to obtain aid elsewhere, they still hope you will consider whether the church in Stockholm is not worthy of your aid if the alternative is the [40/41] cessation of the chaplaincy. The committee wishes to place on record their sincere and deep appreciation of the great financial assistance your society has afforded through many years past, an appreciation they have constantly tried to shew throughout their transactions both in committee and general meetings. We have been so convinced from your correspondence that you would wish to continue supporting this church, that we have as yet taken no steps towards making any other arrangement, and must begin doing so at once if the present plan is not renewed. As you are aware, we have acceded to Mr. Smith’s desire to resign, and his resignation may take place at any time after three months notice. The reply was that they were willing to continue, and would find a suitable candidate in order to present his name to the congregation. This they were unable to do, and what was difficult in 1907 (when they selected Mr. Smith of whom they wrote “his only defect being that of youth”) became impossible in 1911.
We were therefore confronted with a very serious climax: for the chaplain was leaving in October; August had arrived; the society had no candidate; unless the chaplain was their nominee, there would be no grant and a probable dificiency of £100 a year. Reverting to the procedure of previous years it was decided to renew efforts so to increase the endowment fund as to provide a decent stipend without extraneous grant. The first step was a request to her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Sweden (Princess Margaret of Connaught) to become a member of the Endowment fund committee. She graciously consented and immediately took a most active and prominent part in collecting subscriptions. An appeal was issued, not to persons in Sweden, but to persons in England who might welcome an occasion of proving their gratitude for profits or other benefits derived from Sweden. The result was wonderful and the fund was augmented by over £2000. And at Easter 1912 the congregation felt assured that financial independence was really obtained. The Bishop of London accepted the patronage and appointed Rev. J. Howard Swinstead a chaplain in Stockholm. During the last months of 1911 and the first of 1912 the regular services were uninterruptedly maintained by the temporary aid of various priests who occupied the chaplaincy.
Another step was taken also in 1912 calculated greatly to improve the financial position. The church had become [41/42] overshadowed by the juxtaposition of new and lofty buildings. The level of the street off which it stood had been altered, leaving a broad dirty ditch between it and the church. The contrast from the original condition was very severe. To appreciate this, we have only to look at old pictures of it, such as that printed in “Norway and Sweden”. The block of this was kindly lent by the author for reproduction in an appeal published in 1889. But in compensation the site had increased in ground value. The ditch which was really a part of the old street was bought: the intention was (as our highly respected and devoted forestandare Mr. Axel Georgii often explained) to fill it up and plant it. But another difficulty arose; the church needed very extensive structural repairs, and the prospects of further heavy expenses perhaps amounting to £2000, confronted the congregation. A site was offered by the Municipality to which the church might be removed if the old site were sold. The negotiations for this fell through. Then a most munificent offer was made by the owners of the site on which the church is now being erected on an enlarged scale. An acceptable offer was made for the old site by a builder: the financial transactions completed, and the removal was begun. The Freemasons kindly permitted us to use their large hall, temporarily, as a church, during this transition period. Generous gifts have been made for the internal improvement and decoration of the church, and other furniture necessary to enable the services to be performed “decently and in order” as is required by the Book of Common prayer and Church Ordinances.
The Bishop comes himself to invoke God’s blessing on the work, and we feel able to go forward with renewed faith and hope, full of thankfulness for encouraging success already won,” after years of trial, occasional bitter disappointment, and even strife.
In the hour of thanksgiving grateful hearts will warm to those who first laboured in the field, will resolve to emulate their patient perseverance, and will humbly bear in mind duty to Him from Whom all blessings flow, and to Whom all honour, glory, praise and thanksgiving should ever be ascribed.
CHAPTER IX. THE CHURCH REBUILT AND REFURNISHED.
Farewells to the old building were simple but solemn. The Epiphany Celebrations followed the day after New Year’s Sunday: and the faithful came to the number of 28: it was noteworthy how well received also was the Communion preceding the laying of the Foundation-Stone.
Within a quarter of an hour after the last service, the old building saw its carpets up, benches back, and Organ lights down: it was a smart beginning, and the promise has been well maintained.
To remove our furniture, reserving what was necessary for service, for use in the Masonic Hall, was only the work of 5 days, organ included. But the poor instrument was unready for new surroundings: its custom was to feel rather chilly and a bit damp in the old place, and now its cosy warm wall was the much for his character; he got spoiled with good treatment, curled up some of his parts and refused to speak. “As the organ is unexpectedly out of repair, I must ask the congregation to do their very best without its help.” And they did,—to some tune.
This rebellion of our own trusted friend is the one instance of the inability of The Brotherhood of Freemasons to rule everything within their walls. Our needs have been many, but we have taken the Brethren at their word, “Tell us if we can do anything more.” Nor has any reasonable request (and we preferred none others) been made without immediate and courteous response. We owe them more than we at all realise, and I far understated the case, when I said in my very puzzling Swedish “Our expression of thanks cannot match our gratitude.”
 We were only a very few weeks in our temporary home, when the excellent work of Mr. Dahl and his assistants was so far advanced, that we received orders to lay the foundation stone before March 15. Happily for all concerned, this was made easy in its most attractive form, by the gracious consent of H. R. H. The Crown Princess to do the leading part. Dramatically enough, the welcome news of this arrived just before our annual meeting, and was there received most loyally.
THE CEREMONY OF LAYING THE FOUNDATION STONE.
March 12, 1913. II. 55. The Committee, at the church-yard gate, received their Royal Highnesses, whom Hon. W. Erskine, Chargé d’affaires, conducted to the platform. As they mounted the steps the band of the Life Guards played the Swedish National Anthem.
Ladies of the Legation staff, as well as of the Committee, were awaiting them on the platform, together with persons appointed to share in the duties of the ceremony.
After presentations to T. R. H. the hymn “O God our help in ages past” was sung.
Messrs. Johnson and Heidenstam, the churchwardens, with a case of tools in hand, begged H. R. H. to lay the ‘stone: this request being acceded to, the tools in their open case were placed on a stone near. Mr. Dahl, the contractor, adjusted the upper and nether stones. Mr. Villiers, our Consul, addressed the assembly, recording (in a brief survey of the church) our wish not to supplement or clash with other expressions of The Faith, but only to pray—as our fathers have told us—in the language and after the manner of our ancestors, “but beyond all, our thanks to Sweden for Swedish generosity and Swedish hospitality. No deaf ear was ever turned to us. To those who know Sweden, this will come as no surprise: it required the consent of many persons of high and low degree, before this site could become ours: all classes were generous to enable this English Church to be erected on this beautiful and hallowed spot. Gratitude is equally extended to the Architect, the Builder, and all their assistants, for their whole-hearted devotion to the work in hand. May the church to be erected, forages firmly stand, [44/45] amid the scenic charms of Sweden’s capital, as a pledge of Concord, Cordiality and Peace.”
The Chaplain offered prayer.
Except the Lord build the house: their labour is but lost that build it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. Our Father, Prevent us, O, Lord, Prayer for all the workers; for Unity: Collects (St. Peter’s Day; St. Michael and all Angels;) the Lesser Litany; then Psalms were recited.
Mr. Bildt, Secretary, read a list of articles to be deposited in the casket, and presented them for that purpose to the treasurer.
CONTENTS OF THE CASKET DEPOSITED BY THE TREASURER.
The inscription on parchment.
A drawing of the old church, and one of the new church.
Silver coins from the foundation of the old church;
1862 King Karl 15 (4 Rd. Riksm.) silver.
1855 Queen Victoria (Maundy Money 4d, 3d, 2d, Id all silver).
The Treasurer’s account of receipts & expenses, 1912,
The Constitution & Rules of the Church & Congregation in English and Swedish.
Newspapers in English and Swedish.
The service paper of the present ceremony.
English and Swedish coins fresh from the latest minting.
Corn (wine and oil are poured out over the stone).
The casket was soldered by workmen, with a brazier.
Mr. Heidenstam deposited the casket on the nether stone.
Captain Petterson spread, with his own tools, cement brought by the working builders, and begged H. R. H. to perfect this their work. Receiving the trowel from Mr. Erskine, she laid the mortar, and retired away from the gear, while the upper stone was lowered.
Mr. Dahl, contractor, trued the stones, and requested H. R. H. to perfect this.
After examining the work, with mallet in hand, H. R. H. thrice struck the upper stone declaring it “well and truly laid.”
Mr. Melander, architect, presented the plans to H. R. H., who after inspecting them, directed him to proceed with the building.
Mr. Erskine begged H. R. H. to accept the case of tools.
The Chaplain, after two Collects pronounced the Benediction.
The Band concluded the proceedings with the English National Anthem, and “Du gamla, du fria, du fjällhöga Nord.”
In May we heard the glad news that our Bishop intended to give up a week of his holiday (and no one deserves leisure more than the Bishop of London), in order to consecrate the new building on September 20: without hesitation this great kindness was instantly accepted, but not without many fears of having a very incomplete structure ready. These [47/48] fears have been entirely dispelled: weather has favoured us throughout the year: threatened strikes have been cleverly and tactfully rounded: and, above all, Mr. Dahl’s efforts, backed by cooperation from all his staff, have been simply wonderful. The result is that we expect to have all completed, from boiler-house to weather wane in time. Not a little of our satisfaction is reaped from the reflection that as much as possible of the work has been executed in Sweden by Swedes and of Swedish material: to show our absolute loyalty to this plan, we need only mention the following portions of the edifice,—marble floor of chancel, two altars, two credence tables, choir-stalls, Bishop’s stall, pews, gratings, pulpit, weather-vane, service board; presses cupboard and strong box for the vestry; font cover, prie-dieux, hassock covers and electric lighting. There are unexpected difficulties of explanation in producing complete accord with purely English ideas, but these have been wonderfully overcome by the readiness of all our fellow-workers, and especially by Mr. Boberg, architect, who has, free of fees, rendered us very great assistance.
We wish to bear constantly in mind the liberal and unsolicited offers of many who have generously given for our common use offerings that they personally considered suitable for the beauty of holiness.
Several of our benefactors (and among them some of the largest donors), wish to remain anonymous: we have acknowledged to others by name our great sense of gratitude, but we have refrained from giving a full list at any one time, and that for one reason only, viz., the omission of certain names in what purports to be a full list would indicate exactly those who prefer to retain their anonymity. Nevertheless the deepest feeling is sometimes that which must be expressed by silent and thankful use. One of these large sources of gratefulness is the added bay.
As to expenses: £7,000 is roughly estimated for removing and rebuilding. The site is free, with a lien of kr. 700 as nominal rent. Furniture has been provided costing over £1,000, raised by a special appeal to persons who have interests directly connected with England or America.
I believe that every detail has come within my purview, thanks to the courtesy of those who feign to think I understand it all; which I don’t. But one thing I claim to know: [48/49] and I wish to give the most emphatic expression to it. This year has gathered for us the rich blessing of loving co-operation, and though we don’t presume to suppose that we are free from faults, there has never failed a remarkable readiness so “talk it over,” and to correct what is occasionally amiss. Next to impeccability, this is perhaps the most practicable of all the graces; we learn it from our General Confession.
The building is an emblem of the nation for whose worship it is set up: transplanted to other ground, reset in new surroundings, refurnished and embellished; but always and unhesitatingly of the same character, so that one exclaims, “I always knew it so.”
CHAPTER X. PRESENT ACTIVITIES AND PLANS FOR THE FUTURE.
The right method to pursue in worship is to attempt a full presentation of the full Faith. This is done as much by implication, and by emblem, and with the aid of the eye with the ear, as it is by direct instruction. To this end therefore, we endeavour to make clear cut definition between the seasons. I never wish»to go beyond the five main divisions of Our Lord’s life since His Incarnation. They are:—His Infancy, His Baptism, His Crucifixion, His Resurrection, and His Ascension; of which three are openly preached by the Font, the Cross,’ and the Altar; but the Infancy and the Ascension are up to now not represented to the eye. This defect I shall frankly remedy as soon as occasion serves. In addition, we have one fresh emblem,—a connecting link between earthly worship and the Throne on High—which is of surpassing beauty; I mean the Angel which crowns our spire: this is not only a signal to sailors who know well enough that it recalls the Mission to Seamen; the Flying Angel is in a hundred ports, (ours being the 101st); but it is also a call to us to retain the belief in God’s Messengers of Love, as faithful children with the child’s belief.
The letters at the pew-ends spell out the welcome to worship, ADESTE FIDELES ADOREMUS DOMINUM—“O come, ye faithful, let us adore the LORD.” That constitutes my attempt to spiritualize the leading parts of our appointments. And, being a portion of our latest effort in rebuilding, it forms a capital bridge between past and future endeavours.
Celebrations weekly and on Holy-days are sufficient, nor [50/51] do I intend to advance in ritual. That should be the result only of the congregation’s expressed wish. But services between Sundays I now wish to recommence, on the initiative of some who have preceded me here: they will be, (at first) on evenings in Lent and Advent.
We are expecting a time of freedom from financial anxieties: the long night of systematic begging is probably breaking into a dawn of brightness: our building with warmth and light and fresh kneeling accommodation will be comfortable: neighbours that disturb and new buildings with upshadowing height cannot approach so near: even street cleaning may take a turn towards being easy: and all we seem to require is to enter and enjoy the promised land: all this should deepen our present work and develop new spheres. This I purpose with your aid.
First for what we already do: though good, it may be improved: the Choir needs more volume: the children’s service can go ahead, if parents will resist all encroachments on the time: the G. F. S. (under Mrs. Middleship’s care) can extend its usefulness: the Ladies’ work party might possibly double their excellent results with the aid of fresh recruits: (Miss May will be happy to inform enquirers): regular offers to undertake the altar decoration would give solid aid to Mrs. Swinstead’s task: and Mrs. Rohloff is anxious to know of more members to assist the Decoration Committee: she also has ready openings for those who will work for the sailors: while my own special effort will be, if possible, to gather all Church-workers into a Guild. This last sounds formidable, but it isn’t. All I want is to have three rules:
(I) Members shall be Communicants.
(II) every member shall undertake a definite piece of Church-work, according to individual inclination, e. g., any of the duties already mentioned: or looking up fresh comers: or caring for the graves of English people buried here: or the custody of the Altar linen; and so forth; much is waiting: we only want willing regular workers.
(III) attendance at Guild Services thrice a year, and daily use of the Guild Collect.
A payment of 700 kronor a year has been undertaken by the Committee for our occupation of the new site: it may be wise to consider the advisability of capitalizing this [51/52] amount: the problem is how, without re-opening the appeal for subscriptions.
All church work outside the four walls of the building would make magnificent progress, if we could ever manage to obtain a central rendez-vous of four or five rooms: this would meet a multitude of needs, which at present are either untouched, or depend upon private hospitality. A church house or Institute is at present below our horizon.
Two more things are on my conscience, and I must get relief by mentioning them: the first is the disregard of Even song. Next to the lack of realising the benefit of regular Communion, I suppose this is our most serious cause for heart searching. Many people seem to think that Evening Prayer on Sunday is never a duty and never a delight; I have to remind them that it is sometimes both; and as a beginning I would boldly suggest, that one from every household should attend (let us say) once a month: it takes one hour, and any family circle can be rejoined at 8 o’clock.
My other point of conscience touches finance: at present, we send the offerings of three Sundays elsewhere than to our own General Fund. I am not expert enough in our figures to know if much more can be done; but if it can, I would suggest that we are under some obligation to help the Bible Society, some Missionary Society, the Freemasons’ Charities, and above all the Fund for providing a Bishop in our own jurisdiction of Northern and Central Europe. These suggestions are as earnest as they are bold: and they need developing carefully, before they can claim acceptance: but we are now on the eve of new hopes, and it is in the moment of this our great happiness that we can best realise the blessing of casting our bread upon the waters, for it will return unto us after many days.
The project of issuing a Church Magazine off our own bat has been mooted. In spite of much regret at the prospect of severing connection with our sister church at Gothenburg, to whose columns we have been hospitably welcomed for many months, yet there is much to be said for a publication of our own. But it should be a monthly, containing information of church doings and religious movements generally. The customary plan of “localizing” a parish Magazine would have little chance of popularity here: but a literary production, if one could be found or prepared, as long as it [52/53] is not afraid of an occasional gleam of humour, might find a public of a wider circle than Stockholm alone. It would be a pleasure to talk this over with some kindred spirits, and possibly develop a scheme to meet the requirements of both editor and financier. One cannot help shuddering at the notion of producing a good monthly, but one plan suggested seems feasible, with a small nest-egg to begin with. If a start is to be made in the new year, there is little time for poetry: it should be got at immediately. With a certain amount of co-operation the thing would go: will anyone take up the idea?