St Michaels Church

While garrisoned in Dumfries, Norwegians attended both St Michael’s Church and Troqueer Church for worship and weddings. The significance of St Micheal’s was established by its own Rev Harold A Cockburn, Minister and Burgh Chaplain from 1930 to 1958.[1] Cockburn helped to arrange accommodation for Norwegians and organise social events, becoming the Scottish Norwegian Society’s first Chairman in 1942. The importance of St Michael’s to the Norwegians is signified by their parting gift of pulpit cloths and a silver plaque.[2] This can can be found on the south wall between the last two windows, adorned with a small Norwegian flag.[3] It is inscribed:

In Gratitude

When the Germans Invaded our

country, we Norwegians

found in Scotland a home,

and in this house of God

Peace and Strength.

“I was a stranger and ye took me in”

1940 – 1945

Norwegian religious customs were not so foreign during that period either. Former Town Clerk of the Royal Burgh of Dumfries, James Hutcheon, remembered how “towards the end of their stay they were able to have the services of one of their own ministers and I remember his unusual white ruff round his neck and the Geneva gown all adding to the unique service in St Michael’s lit by candles because of the blackout regulations.”[4]

The continuing significance of St Michael’s for Norwegians is reflected by another plaque of similar design, installed below the first by the Norwegian Consul in 2003, which reads “To Commemorate and Strengthen our ongoing Friendship”.[5] This friendship continues to be marked annually at St Michael’s, with church elder Richard Reade helping to coordinate celebrations for the 70th anniversary of links between Dumfries and Norway in 2010.[6]

[1] Future Museum website, Rev Harold A Cockburn sculpture page [accessed 20.1.2017] <http://www.futuremuseum.co.uk/collections/arts-crafts/arts/sculpture/rev-harold-a-cockburn.aspx>

[2] Dumfries Museum, ‘Norway and Dumfries: a special friendship’ (1990) p.9

[3] Burns Howff Club website, St Michael’s Parish Church page [accessed 28.1.2017] <http://www.burnshowffclub.org/html/st_michaels_church.html>

[4] James Hutcheon, ‘When the Norwegians Came to Dumfries’, p.5 – Courtesy of Dumfries Museum

[5] St Michael’s and South Parish Church website, History of the Church page [accessed 18.1.2017] <http://s565871423.websitehome.co.uk/history-of-the-church>

[6] Giancarlo Rinaldi, ‘Dumfries remembers role as home to Norwegian army’, BBC News, 4.11.2010

[accessed 21.1.2017] <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-11685262>

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