By Jeppe Villadsen, journalist, 2006
We find them in their hundreds, spread across the Danish landscape. Everywhere, the churches tell stories of the period and places in which they were built. The church is an integral part of the Danish cultural landscape. And an irreplaceable part of Danish architectural culture. A landmark of the Denmark we know.
A sublime representative of the classical Danish village church is Hover Church - a small windswept church on the west coast of Jutland. It is one of the first stone churches in the country - and in fact one of the oldest preserved stone buildings in Denmark.With Hover Church, a direct line is drawn back to the very first wooden churches in Denmark. The church is basically the wooden church translated into stone.
Bellunder pent roof
Hover Church is Danish church architecture in its simplest form. The walls are granite. There are only four small, highly placed windows with ordinary glass - not glass mosaics as they are known from other churches. Nor is there a belfry, so the church does not project above the landscape as most village churches do. One bell hanging underneath a pent roof on the east gable is the modest alternative to the traditional bell tower.
On the whole, the church has been left untouched for 800 years. Except for a restructured roof and a narthex from the 16th century, the church is intact. Hover Church stands solidly in the tough Western Jutland landscape, its hard-wearing stones spiting the windy climate. At the same time, the simple construction of the building is a reflection of the historic frugality that has characterised nature and people in these parts.
Did you know?
The film director Carl Th. Dreyer used Hover Church in a documentary on faith and life of the church 200 years ago. Dreyer's recordings have been preserved in the parish association's archive in the form of a narrow film.
The committee's justification
By the Committee for Architecture, 2006
As a building type, the church is established within the Danish cultural landscape. As a landmark, the church is elevated above the fields and meadows, and always provides perspective and character to the countryside. Throughout Denmark, the church tells a story of time and place, making it a very important and revered part of the Danish architectural culture. Characterised by simple juxtapositions of geometric shapes, the churches often have a uniform look, as unobtrusive and tranquil buildings. In general, the churches are Romanesque buildings with their own distinctive characters in each part of the country. The Hover Church in Ringkøbing is one of the country’s first stone churches, and it exemplifies the characteristic association with the place in which it is built.
At the same time, the church illustrates the transition from wooden churches to stone – a single-nave church in its simplest form – a symbol of “the first house”. With the exception of the converted roof and a 16th-century porch, the church remains intact, on a single level, constructed with a central axis in a rectangular nave and an almost square cross.
The church stands with gravity in the robust West Jutland landscape, and seems to defy the wind and weather with its perpetual building materials, the clean exterior and ascetically simple interior. The carefully hewn granite blocks give the church’s dimensions a great sense of flatness, underlined by the bright joints between the varied stone blocks with small, high windows. The eastern side houses a bell under a half-roof; a simple and modest equivalent of the traditional bell tower.