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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.