This Saturday I was pastor in a wedding in this chuch.
The English Church or St. Olaf’s church of Balestrand is a beautiful, tiny church. And it has an interesting story to tell. Sadly I know only a little part of it, but here it is; from my memory.
It all started with a woman, her name was Margaret Sophia Green Kvikne. She loved to climb mountains and it was in one of those expeditions she met here husband, Kurt Kvikne. She got married with the owner of the famous wooden hotel Kvikne’s of Balestrand. She left her home in England and lived the rest of her life in the beautiful Balestrand. In the summertime there were a lot of people around. Filling all the summer-houses by the fjord, where artists lived during summer because of the wonderful light they found here. But also because many famous people visited the place, I guess. In the wintertime it was a quiet place.
Margaret missed her homeland, but most of all she missed her church. The church of Balestrand was on the other side of a fjord, not easy to access whenever she wanted. She said it to her husband, that she really would want a church closer to home, an Anglican church, like the one she grow up in. Margaret did never see the church, but died only four year after their marriage of toubercolosis.
Her husband was a kind man, and had some rich friends that wanted to help him found the church. And in his wife’s memory he he started building a tiny little church not far from the hotel. It was highly inspired by the Norwegian building tradition of the stave church. Had a lot of carvings and details. It became a place where tourists flocked and where the memory of Margaret still lives.
Each summer since then Anglican pastors have stayed at Kvikne hotel and kept services in the church. Open for whomever choose to join. For the people of Balestrand it is a dear building witch they often borrow for such things as wedding or concerts before Christmas. Every day it’s open to the public, and it’s guest book tells of many visitors.
Just because a lady needed a place to worship God.
Thanks a million Margaret, may you rest in peace. Sadly you died young and didn’t get to enjoy the church, but so many have you to thank for it.
The church was finished in 1897. 3 years after Margaret died.