The church of Hallig Hooge – The history behind

In order to tell you about its history, things all have to start with the history of the great storm tides


The Great MANNDRÄNKE, 1362

From the beginning, Hooge did not have an own church. Half an hour west of today’s Halligborder, there was a wooden church, coming originally from the Frisian Mission. That church however sank during a storm flood called the great “MANNDRÄNKE” at the year of 1362.

The great MANNDRÄNKE is said to be the one with the most dreadful outcomes. 8000 people drank, around 50 churches were destroyed and it was this flood causing the sinking of the legendary place Rungholt.

Also, large parts of former UTHLANDE were destroyed. Where you today see the mud flats with its enormous areas of sand and sludge at low tide, you 1000 years ago had a commanding view of marsh- and moorland here and there separated by a watercourse.

The remaining population of Hooge after the storm flood  at 1362 was from then counted among the parish of PELLWORM. Pellworm was at that time separated from Hallig Hooge only by a thin tideway. The cathedral of Uthlande (11th century) today known as the “Alte Kirche” (engl: old church) of Pellworm, survived the storm tide.


The Great STURMFLUT, 1634

At 1634, there was again a great storm flood, called the great “STURMFLUT”, hitting the west coast of Hooge. This flood was the cornerstone of the Hallig church’s being.

6400 people out of 9000 drank in this flood and large parts of Alt-Nordstrand sank. The island was torn into several pieces and could not be fit together again by the few survivors. The ruins and remains of the by that tide destroyed churches of Alt-Nordstrand (18 out of 24 churches were destroyed) were picked up by the people of Hooge and served as building material for their own church, the church you are in right now.

The majority of the fixtures and fittings of the church is coming from the place OSTERWOHLD. Osterwohld got its church first at the year of 1624, however, its parish did not exist any longer after the flood disaster.

According to the accounts book of the church, the building of the church was carried out during the years 1637-1642 (in the middle of the Thirty Years’ War). This explains why parts of the fixtures and fittings are older than the building itself:

The PEWS as an example, with their 26 nicely carved stringboards: the first board bears the year 1624. It was originally once made for the church of Osterwohld.

Then, take a look at the carved wooden BAPTISMAL FONT, even this one barriers the year 1624. According to the inscription, it is a donation of the earls or counts of Schwerin and von der Schulenburch. The four Evangelists serve as columns, they carry the baptismal font.

Even the PULPIT, coming from the workbench of Master Ringeling of Flensburg, probably once belonged to Osterwohld. The wood carvings – each framed by two Apostles – represent five scenes of the life of Jesus: 1st The proclamation of his birth. 2nd The birth in the stable of Bethlehem. 3rd The crucifixion at Golgatha. 4th The resurrection, and finally 5th The ascension.

Beneath each picture, you can see the corresponding sentence as an explanation out of the Low German Bugenhagen- Bible.

So until today, we have fixtures and fittings reminding us, as silent witnesses, of the flood disaster, the great STURMFLUT of 1634.


More of the stories behind the secrets of the church

The WHALEDOOR of the pulpit is from the year 1743. It shows a mother whale with its baby. In the main area of the door, you see a married couple, over them a garland of flowers encircling the words:  “Dein Ein- und Ausgang mein laß dir, o Herr, befohlen sein.” (Give, o Lord, the blessing for my entrance and exit). Most of the men of Hooge were whalers on Dutch ships. When they came home from their journeys, they brought Dutch art, especially tiles, kitchen things and furniture. So the pulpit door (originally a door of the pews) calls a time of relative prosperity to memory.

Above the south entrance, there is a commemorative or MEMORIAL PLAQUE. At the year of 1825, there was a storm flood where a meter high breaker caused walls of the houses to collapse and stables to be washed away. 24 people of Hooge lost their lives. Back then, the Danish king Frederik VI. visited Hooge. He took care of the elevation of the “Warften” (living hills) as well as the repair and renovation of the church. Because of the storm flood, he had to stay one night at Hanswarft, in a front since then called: The “Königspesel”. The plaque reminds of him as does the skillful RIGGING SHIP (a model of a danish warship).

The CRUCIFIX at the south wall is the oldest work of art (beginning of the 16th century) in this church. After the storm flood at 1825, it stranded at the seashore of Hooge where it was found.

Look at the ALTAR from the year 1857 (Originally from Klanxbüll, arrived at Hooge at 1931. Before that, the oil painting at the north wall (between the war memorial) served as an altar.). You see a PELICAN. According to an old legend the pelican feeds its babies with its own blood and in that way it got a symbol of the self-sacrifice of Jesus.

Besides the south door is a picture of Pastor Dr. Koch, who successfully fought against alcohol at 1850 at Hooge.

The PICTURES OF THE APOSTLES at the organ gallery are from the 18th century.

The ORGAN was fit into the church in December 1959. Because of extremely ice cover, the helicopter had to bring the single pieces.

The WROUGHT-IRON CHANDELIER in the centre is the work of a man of Hooge in the beginning of this century.

The COLOUR SCHEME OF THE CHURCH (first 1931, renewed 1960) has deliberately held onto the Frisian colours: blue, red, yellow or gold and thus it is similar to the colouring of the former Frisian Hallig-rooms.

Looking eastwards the church, at the entrance of the graveyard, you see the BELFRY out of four magnifying, stranded oak tree piles. The bell (note B) was casted and acquired between 1841 and 1848.

From the outside of the south door among the gravestones, there is a simple wooden cross with the words: “It is the cross of Golgatha home for homeless.” The date 1916/17 remids of the three dead bodies found at the seashore. Three ordinary sailors or seaman recruits of the navy, which participated at the Battle of Skagerrak, were buried here.

Take a look at the floor between the pews! You see SOIL OF SAND AND MUSSELSHELLS. At great storm floods, again and again water forces its way into the church, last in January 1976. In those situations, this good old well-tried Hallig-construction of this church, that allows the water to seep and trickle through the sand and mussels, is more than effective.

The GLASS WINDOW with the sinking and from Jesus rescued Petrus tells you two stories: The first lies 2000 years back in time and is told in the Gospel of Matthäus (14, 22-33). The second is from the year 1919. Both have the reality of help and salvaging out of the water of death in common.                                                                 Bandik Feddersen from Hamburg has summer after summer visited his brother at the Hallig. When he in the summer 1919 sailed as usually from the island Föhr to Hooge, he fell overboard and got into such big danger and critical condition, that he gave himself up for lost. He was rescued in the last second. Out of gratitude he donatedthis glass window with the biblical scene that grasps the words of Petrus: “Lord, help me!”

LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth. Psalm 26,8

This guidance is a translation into English by: Maria-Henrike Witte, Original text in German by: Pastor D.Heyde