General view of the former King's Weigh House Chapel, now the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, from the south-west
Architecture Listed places

5 Places in England with Ukrainian History

From cathedrals to gardens, discover five places connected to Ukrainians in England.

At the end of the Second World War, after the collapse of Nazi Germany, an estimated 11 million people were displaced from their homes. This included over two million Ukrainians in western Europe.

In 1947, the International Refugee Organisation allowed displaced persons and refugees to be resettled in countries willing to accept them, including the United Kingdom. Many Ukrainians came to the UK in late 1947 and early 1948, totalling around 21,860 individuals by the end of 1949. 

Here are several sites that have been influenced by Ukrainians and the Ukrainian community.

1. Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, London

Originally known as the King’s Weigh House Church, the Cathedral on London’s Duke Street was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the architect of the Natural History Museum.

View of the red brick Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral from the street.
Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral (formerly King’s Weigh House Chapel), Duke Street, Westminster, London. © Historic England Archive DP150950.

In 1940, the building suffered severe bomb damage, and it was not until 1953 that the church was fully restored. By that time, the congregation had almost totally declined.

After several years as a Protestant Chapel for members of the United States Navy stationed in London, the historic church closed. However, in June 1968, it was acquired on behalf of Ukrainian Catholics in England, under Bishop Augustine Hornyak, for their Cathedral of the Holy Family of Exile.

Internal changes were made to adapt it to Byzantine worship, but the church structure remains the same. On the ambulatory wall near the northeast entrance is a stone carving of the Holy Family, salvaged from Saffron Hill Church, the first place of worship of the Ukrainian Catholic community.

2. Ukrainian cross, Mylor Bridge, Cornwall

The refugees who came to Mylor Bridge in 1947 were just some of the hundreds of Ukrainians who found themselves in Cornwall. They were fleeing the communist regime installed in their home country by the Soviet Army.

View of the white stone Ukrainian Cross with a tree to its left and grass and flowers to the right in the foreground.
Ukrainian Cross, Mylor Bridge, Cornwall. The cross, erected on 7 June 1948 by Ukrainian refugees, was listed at Grade II in 2022. © Historic England Archive.

The refugees were accommodated in a hostel between Mylor Bridge and Restronguet Barton. The site, known locally as ‘the gun sites’, is thought to have previously been a German prisoner of war camp. Many refugees were employed as agricultural workers, and some may also have contributed to Cornwall’s mining and fishing industries.

A year after their arrival, the Ukrainian refugees built a cross near their hostel as a symbol of their gratitude for refuge and strong faith. In 1948, three Roman Catholic priests blessed the cross and a chapel nearby.

In 2008, the cross was rededicated to celebrate its 60th anniversary. Some of the original refugees and their descendants attended the ceremony, and many remain in Cornwall.

3. The Japanese Garden at the New House, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

The New House in Chipping Norton was built in 1964 by architects Stout and Litchfield for Milton Grundy. It’s an important example of early 1960s domestic architecture, with a distinctive use of traditional materials in a modernist style.

View of the modernist New House with Japanese garden surrounding, including a pond with water plants.
New House, Shipton Under Wychwood, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. © Historic England Archive DP138635.

Stout and Litchfield originally envisaged a water garden for the New House. However, the idea for the Japanese style garden came from the painter Viacheslav Atroshenko who had recently visited Kyoto with Grundy.

Atroshenko was born in Shanghai and the son of Ukrainian immigrants. In addition to being an artist he, like Grundy, was also a scholar in art and architecture, and in 1991 he and Grundy published ‘Mediterranean Vernacular: A Vanishing Architectural Tradition’. The pool at the New House was designed and built by a team of Japanese gardeners and the garden was designed by Atroshenko and planted by him and Grundy.

View of the Japanese Garden at the New House, with several different trees and shrubs.
The Japanese Garden at New House, Shipton Under Wychwood, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. © Historic England Archive DP138632.

4. Church of St Mark, Coventry, Warwickshire

During the second half of the 19th century, Coventry’s expansion resulted in St Mark’s parish church being created in 1869.

View of the red brick St Mark's Church from the street.
St Mark’s Church, Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry. © Ian Rob via Geograph.

In 1941, the church was damaged by bombs from one of the air raids over Coventry during the Easter weekend. It was subsequently repaired and reopened for worship in 1947.

By 1965, following a number of Orthodox and Lutheran congregations that emerged in Coventry since the Second World War, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was practising at St Mark’s. But in 1973, the church was converted into an outpatients department for the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital.

The hospital vacated the building in 2006. In January 2017, the building was given consent by the Bishop of Coventry for occasional Christian worship to take place.

5. Church of the Holy Trinity, Hempton, Norfolk

The Church of the Holy Trinity was built under the direction of Friar Moxon, a priest who graduated from Cambridge with a First in law in 1850. He was enthusiastic about education and ‘bettering the working man’s condition’.

View of the stone Holy Trinity church over a field.
Holy Trinity church in Hempton © Copyright Evelyn Simak via Geograph.

This church is an important example of a small rural building emerging directly from the Oxford Movement. Notably, it has a painted rood (or cross) suspended above the high altar that was carved by a former Ukrainian prisoner of war.

Share your knowledge
Do you know about more English sites connected to Ukrainian history? Let us know about them in the comments below.

10 comments on “5 Places in England with Ukrainian History

  1. On the Palace Green in Ely, adjacent to the cathedral is a Russian cannon which was captured during the Crimean War and presented by Queen Victoria in 1860 to the Ely Rifle Volunteers. When we visited in May it was draped in a Ukrainian flag with garlands of flowers.

    • Neil Holloway

      It still has the flowers and flag in it, although the cathedral no longer lights up in blue and yellow at night, unfortunately.

    • Sonia Wojtkowych

      My Dad was a DP in Ely. Mum’s from Ely. Climbed on that cannon many times as a child visiting grandparents, aunts & uncles and cousins in Ely.

  2. Very interesting information, always would like to find more about Ukrainians in the UK. I am delighted to meet Ukrainians in Edinburgh where is also long history. I Live in North East of England, if someone know any information please share.

  3. It is so much appreciated that you recognised Ukrainian input, Diiakuu. Thank you !

  4. Lucy Johnson

    Glad to be back at this blog again – I saw a pretty extraordinary historic England site yesterday at Mistley – the Towers but it seems doubtful whether it has any connection to Ukraine. However you NEVER know. I will try and find a tenuous connection!

  5. John Welsby

    Wolverhampton has a Ukrainian Catholic Church – and a Ukrainian Community Centre opposite which has been actively involved in welcoming our Ukrainian guests in the City in recent months. The church has regular services and is very attractively decorated inside. We attended a service earlier this year to mark the City’s support for refugees – which was (very helpfully) conducted partly in English.

  6. My parents, sister, and a large group of their friends from Ukraine were in a Displaced Persons camp outside Kiel, Germany after World War II. England granted them residency in Rushden, Northamptonshire in 1947. My family were sponsored by the amazing Ada and Amos Garley (deceased and buried in the nearby cemetery). We lived at 18 Cromwell Road on the third floor. This was the Lords’ house and they rented the space. My father first worked on a farm and later as a taxi driver. Mother first worked in service and later at Grenson shoe factory across the street for 10 years. My parents and their Ukrainian group were in their early ’20s. My sister grew up in Rushden – education, English culture, ballet classes, social circles, St Mary’s down the road. They all learned a new, freedom filled life. I was born in 1955. We emigrated to Philadelphia in 1957 to reunite with my father’s family, who settled there after the DP camp. Now I’m back in England since 2015. Forever grateful to the UK, for Mr and Mrs Garley, the Lords, and the community in Rushden.

    • Kevin JOSEPH Bergin

      My father worked at Ferrersflex on the Newton Road, Higham Ferrers. He worked with many Ukrainian people there. As they all attended the Catholic church at the bottom of Higham hill we were invited to family gatherings. When the present terrible situation with Putin’s war. We have taken a wonderful Ukraine lady into our home. I had known Marina from talking with her for nearly 6 years. But to get her here and allow her to be safe is such a reward. It all happened because of those wonderful people from my childhood.

  7. Elain Harwood

    In Nottingham the Ukrainian community have taken over G. F. Bodley’s St Alban, Bond Street, 1885-7, and Clutton Lodge, one of the best houses by the irrepressible local architect Watson Fothergill, 1885, is now a Ukrainian social centre – both fine buildings in good hands

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