From a Parish Church to a National Monument: Restoration of Finnish Medieval Stone Churches and Its Background, 1870-1920

From a Parish Church to a National Monument: Restoration of Finnish Medieval Stone Churches and Its Background, 1870-1920

Valkeapää, Leena (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)



During the period covered by the study the medieval churches were under many kinds of pressure for change. The Finnish population began to grow rapidly around the middle of the 18th century. Many medieval churches were extended. As a result of new hygienic and confort requirements, churches began to be heated, lighting was improved, pews were remodelled and more attention was paid to the general cleanliness of the church.


Demands for conservation brought new pressures to bear on church maintenance and repairs. As early as in the 18th century, churches had become the responsibility of the building authorities and subject to their supervision. The legislation relating to antiquities that emerged in the 1880s created a totally new type of supervision. The Antiquities Act issued in 1883 gave the Commission for Antiquities no very great powers to intervene in the parishes’ repair plans. Even the medieval churches still used by the parishes were excluded from the antiquities defined by the act. A parish was obliged only to announce its intention to conduct repairs and to give the commission an opportunity to document the situation before the repairs were begun. However, despite the limitations of the act the commission quickly consolidated its position.

Click here to read this article in Finnish from MIRATOR