Scandinavian Seamen's Church (Gustaf Adolfs Kyrka)


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Scandinavian Seamen's Church (Gustaf Adolfs Kyrka), Park Lane, Liverpool, L1 8HG


Ordnance survey map of Scandinavian Seamen's Church (Gustaf Adolfs Kyrka)
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1292991.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 18-Nov-2019 at 02:02:52.


Statutory Address:
Scandinavian Seamen's Church (Gustaf Adolfs Kyrka), Park Lane, Liverpool, L1 8HG

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Liverpool (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


A Scandinavian seaman's church, attached minister's house and mission known as Gustaf Adolfs Kyrka, built in 1883-84 to a design by the architect W.D Caröe.

Reasons for Designation

* The church was constructed at a time when Liverpool was one of the world's major international seaports and its construction is a testament to the cosmopolitanism engendered through commerce and immigration between the city and the Scandinavian countries; * It is a distinctive building within the city and its decorative use of brick, its remarkable roofline, and its Scandinavian decorative touches give it an imposing presence on the local townscape; * The church represents the first independent commission of the architect W.D Caröe who went on to become a major contributor to church architecture over many years; * Its altered interior reflects the ongoing welfare use of the building, and, inspite of losses, does not undermine the extremely high level of architectural interest present here.


The Scandinavian Seaman's Church was built in 1883-84 to a design by William Douglas Caröe (1857-1938). This was Caröe's first independent commission for a church, the area in which he was later to distinguish himself. It was built as a mission, church and minister's house to provide facilities for visiting Swedish sailors and Scandinavian immigrants in Liverpool during the time of the city's prominence as one of the world's major seaports and its bustling trade with the Scandinavian countries. The commission is thought to have been secured as a result of Caröe's father, a corn merchant, acting as Danish Consul in Liverpool. The complexity of the roof structure required a team of Scandinavian craftsmen to be employed to finish it and these were paid for by Anders Kruuse Caröe, the architect's father. At the time of construction the church was built to accommodate 550 sittings. It consisted of a ground floor mission above which was the main floor of the church with a shallow chancel flanked by a baptistery and sacristy. A gallery accessed from staircases in the north west and south west corners ran around three sides of the interior. The central area of the church was surmounted by an octagonal pyramidal lantern and a major feature of the building was the uninterrupted view upwards from the centre of the church to the lantern. Attached to the left side of the church was a single-storey minister's house. The main entrance was behind an iron gate on Park Lane which led into an open recess in which there are steps down to the mission, and up to the minister's house on the left and the church on the right. The mission was also accessed via a rear entrance down a short flight of steps off Cornhill.

The church's interior was altered during the early 1960s and divided horizontally when a mezzanine floor was added, the original gallery front removed, and a staircase giving access to the new first floor added. This staircase occupies the former baptistery which itself occupied the former organ space. An in-built pulpit together with the reredos and altar were also removed. An area once occupied by an original staircase giving access to the former gallery is now used as a storage area. The organ - originally installed in the late 1880s - was moved and now occupies some of the former western gallery space. Also during the early 1960s the minister's house was either sympathetically completely rebuilt as a two-storey structure or a second floor was added to the existing structure. Other changes included the insertion of new windows on the ground floor of the Park Lane façade, blocking of a ground floor window in the tower and replacement of two small windows with a single large window in the upper floor of the tower. In the early 1990s the church was repaired and redecorated. The main external alterations included the removal of the original terracotta tiled roof and its replacement with concrete tiles, removal of original terracotta dragon motifs high on the roof and their replacement with timber copies, removal of the entrance gate and construction of an enclosed porch at the main entrance, and the blocking of the mission's rear entrance. At the same time a number of internal alterations were made and the original ground floor of the church now serves as the main community meeting room and café with a kitchen installed in what was formerly the chancel recess. Many smaller rooms have changed function as facilities have been modernised and improved. The building was listed at Grade II in 1975.


MATERIALS: Red brick, tiled and copper-sheathed roof.

PLAN: Centrally planned church on a corner site, with minister's house attached to the south-east.

EXTERIOR: The front elevation overlooking Park Lane is of seven bays and is of two and three storeys with basements. The central bay consists of a stair tower of three storeys divided by sill string courses carried around three sides of the church. Windows have pointed arches and the stair tower has trefoiled arcading at the top with a lead covered pagoda-like spire with wooden bargeboards to lucarnes at the mid-point. The three bays to the right of the stair tower are of three storeys and the roof levels differ, with the central bay rising above its flanking bays and ending in a crowstepped gable. The ground floor has four segmental-arched windows, with pointed windows to the floor above and quatrefoil windows above this in the side bays. The central of the three bays has three-stepped lancet windows in the gable. To the rear and rising above the gable is a centrally-placed octagonal lantern with four gablets beneath a concrete-tiled roof that has small roof dormers near its summit and is topped by a lead finial and cross. The dormers and gablets are topped with Scandinavian carvings and the whole building is finished in a complex of differing roof lines. To the left of the stair tower there is a single-storey modern entrance porch and to the left of this the two-storey minister's house with modern segmental-arched windows and cross-axial chimney stacks. The left return is a 1960s build of the minister's house that is finished with a crowstepped gable and contains blind pointed-arched windows, blind occuli and a blind quatrefoil. The rear elevation has the minister's house projecting forward to the right of a narrow two-storey connecting range between the church and minister's house. The church projects forward and apart from the absence of a stair tower, the use of a four-stepped lancet window in the central gable and the addition of a small modern balcony, it closely resembles the front elevation. At the right corner there is a stepped return containing a blocked former doorway to the mission. The Cornhill elevation is of three bays. The right bay is of two storeys topped by a crowstepped gable, the central bay rises almost to the eaves height of the central lantern and is finished with a crowstepped gable, the left bay is relatively plain and is of two storeys. Windows are segmental-arched to the ground floor with a narrow lancet to the left bay. There is a pointed-arched window to the right bay and a single lancet in the gable above three small square windows. The building's Park Lane and Cornhill corner is canted and is of two storeys with stepped lancets under a crowstepped gable. The words `GUSTAF ADOLFS KYRKA' are engraved at mid-height.

INTERIOR: Above the basement the lower floor houses the mission, now modernised with bedrooms, toilet facilities, showers and a communal area. Original pillars with brick corbels remain in situ and elsewhere there is evidence of blocked openings. The former main floor of the church now serves as the principle community meeting room with a kitchen installed in the former chancel recess. Part of its western end has been walled off and converted into a television room whilst a former apartment has been converted into an office. Four plain iron columns support the inserted mezzanine floor above. The former gallery level has now been converted to the floor of the church with the introduction of the mezzanine floor. It is housed within the octagonal lantern and lit by large transept windows, small trefoil and quatrefoil windows and large dormer windows. The organ occupies part of the former western gallery, the font is now located to the south of the shallow chancel and the present altar is a modern pine construction. The capitals of the piers supporting pointed arches are partly gilded. Some of the original bench pews have been painted and reused in the reordered church. To the rear of the organ there is a small room, formerly used as a vestry and student accommodation, that has had later subdivisions added.

The connecting range between the church and the minister's house contains modernised living accommodation and the minister's house too has modernised accommodation on two floors with a basement below.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Brown, S, de Figuereido, P, Religion and Place: Liverpool's Historic Places of Worship, (2008), 67-70
Freeman, J M , WD Caroe his Architectural Achievement, (1990)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 07 May 2001
Reference: IOE01/02750/27
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Frank Edge. Source Historic England Archive
Archive image, may not represent current condition of site.
To view this image please use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge.

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].