Monday, 26 December 2011

Postcards from a Little Church on the Fjord

Bo KirkeI followed up my Hovden excursion by driving the Highway 820 loop from Straume. It goes south past Fjærvoll, along the coast, and then loops around to return to Straume from the east.

Based on the success of the previous day’s outing, I had high hopes for this drive. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this part of the countryside very inspiring. I only managed to take a few snaps. Or rather, I only managed to take a few snaps until I discovered Bø Kirke.

I don’t know why I wasn’t inspired at the start of this outing. I do know that I found the day to be dark and dreary. After a short while in this claustrophobic environment, I saw Bø Kirke.

It stood out like a comforting beacon in the foreboding countryside. Perched up on a small hill, it was lit on the outside with floodlights, which made its red and yellow exterior stand out against the sky. The lights were on inside, too, so the windows were bright and warm, adding to the general cheeriness of the building.

Bo Kirke

This one is worth seeing here in a larger size.

After taking a series of landscape shots with Bø Kirke as the subject, I got back in the car and I drove along for a few more kilometres. Again, I didn’t really see much to shoot and I didn’t bother to complete the loop to Straume. Instead, I turned around and retreated to Bø Kirke. It was still calling to me to take its picture, so I drove directly up to the church thinking I would shoot close-ups of the outside.

Bo Kirke

After taking the above shot, I looked through one of the windows and saw three people inside. So I went in, seeking permission to shoot inside the church. One of the people there was Vivi Hanssen, the Church Warden.

Bo Kirke

She explained that they were putting up and decorating the Christmas tree. Despite fretting that the church wasn’t suitable for having its picture taken because she hadn’t yet vacuumed, she said I was welcome to go ahead and take whatever photos I wanted. As I shot, she related a bit of the church’s history and gave me a pamphlet, which revealed even more of its story.

The earliest written record of churches on this site is from 1381, so it is likely that there was a church here even earlier than that. This particular church was finished in 1824. Many of the items in the church are from preceding churches, so they are even older than the church itself.

Bø Kirke is unusual for its size. It was many features normally found in much larger churches. I suspect that this are was quite wealthy, so the parishioners were able to afford to add some nice little touches to their place of worship.

For example, it was built in the shape of the cross. Smaller churches tend to be built as simple rectangles and are often just one-room affairs, not large, cross-shaped affairs. To say Bø Kirke is cross-shaped is a bit of a stretch, although I am sure that's what its builders intended. Instead, maybe I should say that its shape is more of a “plus sign”, with all four sections equal in length.

Bo Kirke

The interior is all wood, which when illuminated with tungsten light, makes for a very warm feeling. Even the blue paint feels warm, despite blue being a “cold” colour.

Bo Kirke

The paint was in the same flat colours I have seen in historic properties in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. I suspect that the paint-making technology was the same worldwide. The mural behind the altar, which dates from 1762, uses all of the basic colours: red, blue, green, and yellow.

Bo Kirke

The mural is interesting because the picture is of a vision that King Christian 4 had one morning in Rosenborg Castle. This is the same dude I wrote about here in my "Game of Thrones" post.

There are four chairs next to the altar, two on either side. The two on the left of the image are fancy, embossed leather, baroque style bridal chairs. The bride and groom would sit on these chairs for the mass that immediately followed the wedding ceremony. I don't know how old the chairs are. The information pamphlet only says that someone gave the to the church in 1949.

On the wall on the extreme left and right are two painted oak carvings. They date back to medieval times and represent Mary with Child (in the left of the photo) and St Barbara (photo right).

The pulpit and the sounding board over it (which I just learned is sometimes called a “preacher-snuffer” in some churches), also came from preceding churches. The sounding board is from 1792 and the pulpit is from 1762. I can't imagine why a church this small needs a sounding board, other than for decoration.

Bo Kirke

In the above two photographs, you can also see there are galleries in this church. This is yet another unusual feature in a church so small. The galleries were reserved for high society and the common people sat below. The galleries wrap all the way around the church. Even those above the altar and pulpit were used this way, and were not set aside for the choir.

Getting to the galleries was quite a chore. The stairs, in the corners of the church, are very steep.

Bo Kirke

If this doesn’t look steep, try looking down from the top. I had a hard enough time lugging my camera gear up and down them; I couldn’t imagine how the women managed this with large skirts and high-heeled boots.

Bo Kirke

From the balconies, I was able to get close to the pipe organ. This is another odd feature in a small church. The organ didn't appear to be that old, perhaps from the 1970's. The older organ was moved to make way for this new organ and resides in a different church.

The older organ has an interesting story, though. In the 1800’s, there was a tradition for fishermen to raise money for the church by casting a net and donating the proceeds from that cast to the church. It was from this type of fundraiser that the old organ came to be in Bø Kirke.

Bo Kirke

I was also able to get top-side view of the ship model attached to the wall. It was made in 1860 and donated to the church in 1958. While it sounds plausible, I couldn't determine if hanging a ship's model inside a church is a traditional thing or not.

Bo Kirke

Not wanting to abuse Vivi’s wonderful hospitality, I only stayed for an hour. It was hard to leave and I could easily have spent several more hours learning about this wonderful little church. Nonetheless, I bid her “God Jul” (which is Merry Christmas in Norwegian) and left her to finish decorating the Christmas tree.

Bo Kirke

Here is a quick index of my Postcard blog articles for this trip:

My post about some Accidental Abstracts I made during this trip is here.

My post about skiing in Oslo and some Postcards taken with my phone's camera is here.

My post about a side trip I made to Uppsala, Sweden and some early morning streetscapes I made is here.

My post about a fabulous stay I had at Brumma, a cabin above the tree line in Brummastølen, is here.

My post about the wonderful Norwegian Christmas Eve tradition of lighting a candle at the grave of family is here.

My post about my adventure in a hut up in the boreal forest canopy is here.

My post about a wonderful little church I discovered while up above the Arctic Circle is here.

My post about the commonality of fishing between Norway and Newfoundland is here.

My post about being above the Arctic Circle during the polar night is here.

My post about the Nobel Peace Prize fakkeltog is here.

1 comment:

Terry Sydoryk said...

Amazing pictures Scott! Fascinating woodwork and colors, which totally come through in your pictures .... Great work