Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Two Countryside Churches

Back on 22nd July, my brother and I took a little countryside detour, and stopped at two rather typical Swedish countryside churches. 


Målsryd is a small locality with about 900 inhabitants.
The church at Målsryd is one of five belonging to a bigger parish. This one was built in 1915 and is said to be the last church in Sweden built in Neo-Gothic style. Below is the same church seen from the other side:


There is no graveyard at this church and we wondered a bit about that; but my guess is that they probably use the graveyard at the main church of the parish:

Toarp church at Dalsjöfors; which is a bigger locality in the district, with about 3400 inhabitants.

CIMG0589-001 - Copy

CIMG0590-001 - Copy

The Toarp church is situated up on a hill overlooking a large graveyard, and with a wide view of a beautiful surrounding landscape beyond.




The present church is from 1783 and was built in what we call the Gustavian style (named after King Gustav III, whose reign lasted between 1771-1792). It replaced an older, medeival church in the same spot, though.


“In the year 1783, on the 3rd of March, was laid the first stone to this Temple Building, and with the help of the Almighty it was completed on the 30th Sept the same year, in the 13th year of the reign of King Gustav III. Dean at the time was the Reverend and Doctor of Theology Sven Sandmark, Church Wardens Pär Pärs(son) in Drared and Pär And(ersson) in Slätthult,  Sacristian Bryngel Hans, and the Master Builder and Mason Sven Westman.

The text on the slate over the door somehow gives the impression of a hastily scribbled note rather than a carefully planned layout… Smile


Something we noticed in this graveyard that we haven’t seen elsewhere was that they seem to be collecting old headstones* in one long row along the edge, like a wall.

*For those who might wonder “why” …
There are national rules that each grave must have someone responsible for it, or else – after a certain number of years – the plot is recycled, i.e. the gravestone removed and the plot can be used for a new grave. What they do with the old headstones varies from one place to another, though. To me this seems a good alternative, as it helps preserve the history of the neighbourhood. Older headstones often give more information than modern ones as they often include a title or occupation or the name of the place where a family lived.


  1. the churches are beautiful, the first one is a lot like the churches here in looks and style. so if they recycle the grave what do they do with the people buried there.

  2. So some of these graves can get re-used and someone gets buried on top of the old person? Here, we have rules about how deep to bury someone. Looks like those markers are just laying in wait for someone to die! I like both churches, the second one looks really good considering how old it is, buildings like this are really worth saving! What has been going on with you, any buyers?

  3. Yes, I see Sandra and I want to know the same thing! Maybe tomorrow do an explaining post!! We are both way too curious for our own good!

  4. I checked a Church of Sweden website and they say they treat recycled graves just as family graves. Which means, I take it, that they only bury a new coffin if there is still room for one, otherwise just allow urns with ashes to be buried in the top layer. (There are records kept so they know who is buried in a grave even if the stone sometimes only says "XXX family grave" etc.)

  5. Love that sky in all of your images. The puffy white clouds add a special touch.

    Mersad Donko Photography

    1. Mersad, I agree the sky obliged by being very photogenic that day :)

  6. What lovely churches and graveyards.

    1. We did not have much time this summer for touring the countryside while my brother was here (too busy preparing our parents' old home for sale) but this little detour in beautiful weather felt like a mini-break :)

  7. Beautiful churches and surroundings.

  8. Excellent, I love churches and recycling graves seems a really good idea.

    1. I guess one of the purposes is that it does help to keep the churchyards looking nicer and less gloomy, Adrian. Even if old headstones can be of historical interest, abandoned graves that no one is looking after any more, is not a very uplifting sight.

  9. I like old graveyards, but in my town, they aren't near any of the churches. Our "main" churches are in the town centre, two of the three of them are facing each other across the market square, while the graveyards are further out.
    The roof on the second church is very oddly shaped! Is that characteristical for that style?

    1. At our two main churches in the town centre there are no graves either, Meike. Well at the oldest one there are some very old ones I think + a remembrance garden. But as the town grew, separate graveyards were created. Between where I live and the town centre, there are two - the one closest to the town centre being the oldest. In the opposite direction from where I live, is a huge "new" cemetery area set aside in the 1900s and still being expanded. Typically here old churches in countryside villages do have graveyards on the same grounds as the church itself, while in the towns the graveyards are separate.

    2. About the roof on the Toarp church, I'm no expert on building styles but I do think the more rounded shapes of both roof and windows are rather typical of an earlier era, compared to the neo-gothic style of the late 1800s/early 1900s.

  10. I loved these two picturesque churches and all the history attached to them.
    It's good that the "old" headstones are still kept for the sake of historical records even though they are no longer looked after by the families.


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