My words, thoughts and photos from a Swedish perspective

A trip to Jämtland, a landscape in the north of Sweden

I have been thinking of going north for many years, but it has just been thoughts until now. Blogging means that one makes new friends and an old blogfriend of mine lives in Jämtland, near Hammarstrand to be more specific. She has worked hard to encourage me to come up and visit her and promised she would show me around. This year I decided that seeing and experiencing something new was a must to charge the batteries during the holiday and I made my mind up – I’m going north!

It is a 500 km drive to Hammarstrand from my house in Kopparberg (and longer from Stockholm) so it took time to get there but it didn’t bother me. This summer has been bad, rainy and cold – the sunny and warm days are less than five – but I thought “I give a damn about the weather, I’m going anyway”. I will share photos of what I saw during these days. As you probably already figured out, a trip like this calls for taking loads of photos, so they will be evenly spread through a number of posts. This is the first one.

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The first sight my blogfriend showed me was Håsjö gamla kyrka (in English: Håsjö’s old church) erected in 1684, but the style is medieval. It doesn’t look special, but is filled with gems inside. The church was not open when I was there, but my friend happened to know a guide and she promised to come and open it for us and show us the treasures. The people are so kind and friendly there.

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Its belfry is from 1779 but the bell is from early 13th century. Our guide finished the tour by pulling the string so I could hear the sound of it. Now I have heard the sound of 13th century. Nothing special – and remarkable at the same time.

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It was only too tempting to take a closer look at the belfry.

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Let’s get in!

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This is where the guide with the key was a must. The first door was easy to open, it had no lock. This door has!

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The lock itself is a piece of antique art still in use.

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This was the first thing I saw. Impressive!

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The pulpit.

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The stand with hourglasses used to measure time during the sermon.

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Jämtland once belonged to Norway that happened to be ruled by the Danes and they issed a decree that forbade all pictures in the churches. Instead, these should be replaced by the most important things in the bible, such as the ten commands, in plain writing. The painting behind the stairs to the pulpit is what the Danes had declared appropriate and they had special travelling inspectors who controlled that the rules were followed. What they didn’t know was that the pictures and paintings were not destroyed, they were only hidden when necessary and the parishes organised a secret system that alerted the reverands when the inspectors were spotted so they could hide the art treasures from them.

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I forgot to ask, but I think this is the board on which the psalms the parish should sing during the service is displayed. Every psalm in the Swedish psalm book has a number, so they simply put the different psalms’ numbers on the board. I don’t know how it works abroad but this is how it’s done here.

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The baptismal font. This is a very unusal design, old baptismal fonts are usually made of stone or much larger and heavily sculptured. This one is light, tiny and probably very handy in a small country side church.

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The baptismal font from above

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And now some close ups

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Decorations on the pulpit

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Times are changing and so did the number of people in the parish. A growing population demanded more seats, but the parish could probably not afford an extension of the church. More rows with benches was affordable though and they really pushed the limits. The front row is now straight under the pulpit – it’s the bottom of the pulpit we see and we can also see how the carpenter took a turn around it.

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Perhaps it’s about time to leave now. Just one last look at this beautiful church before we go and I am so grateful to the guide who came and showed us the church and told us about its history.

I’ll be back soon with a new post, so stay tuned as they say.

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