Mariánské Lázne is a spa town in West Bohemia, located not far from the German border. Better known by its German name of Marienbad, in the nineteenth century, it developed as one of the top European spas, popular with notable figures and rulers who often returned there on numerous occasions.
To meet the needs of these international visitors, a whole series of hotels, colonnades and other buildings were constructed. These included Churches of different denominations, all located in relatively close proximity to each other.
This is Kostel Svatého Vladimíra, the Russian Orthodox Church. It is still in use, though the number of Russian visitors has dropped considerably in recent times, because of the serious fall in value of the rouble.
Here is Kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie, the Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was constructed between 1844-1848 in the ‘new Byzantine style’, according to my research.
Squeezed between two taller and grander buildings, is the Evangelický kostel / Protestant Church. It was built to meet the needs of Protestant guests, in the years 1853-1857, from the public subscriptions of German Lutherans. In 1907, stained glass windows were added, donated by Kaiser Wilhelm II. It continues to be used for worship by the Ceskobratská Církev Evangelická, the main Czech Protestant Church.
And yes – there is also an Anglican Church. It is a classic example of a red brick Victorian Church building and was consecrated by the Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1879. My understanding is that it fell into disuse, some time in the late 1920s–early 1930s, when a combination of the Stock Market crash of 1929, and the subsequent rise to power of Adolf Hitler, meant that British citizens no longer came to take the waters.
Sybille and I had twice previously visited Mariánské Lázne during the early part of our time in the Czech Republic, but on both occasions it was in winter and the Anglican Church building was snowbound and locked. So I was very pleased that when I was there again last Saturday, that it was open and I was able to go inside.
Since the early 1990s, the building has belonged to the Mariánské Lázne Town Council, who use it as an Exhibition and Concert Venue. But the reason I found it open was because it was being made ready for a wedding that was to take place there later that afternoon. No doubt this would have been a civil ceremony, conducted by the local registrar. The main reason that I was visiting Mariánské Lázne was to conduct a religious wedding, following the liturgy of the Church of England, but at a different venue. Somewhat ironic to say the least!
Of the original interior, the only remaining features are the pulpit and this marble memorial plaque from 1911, commemorating the frequent visits of King Edward VII, both as Prince of Wales and later, as King. I knew that this plaque existed and was very pleased to be finally able to see it, and get a photographic record.
Finally for this post, here is the smaller of the two colonnades in Mariánské Lázne, being made ready for the wedding I was there to conduct. The larger colonnade is featured in the first photograph of this post. The happy couple were Bismark and Hannah. Bismark comes from Ghana whilst Hannah was born in Norway, but of Ghanaian parents. They met whilst both studying medicine in Hradec Králové and are now working as doctors in Norway.
They originally asked if I would conduct a service of blessing for them, following a civil marriage. But once I explained that I could legally marry them, they gladly agreed. We did have a few problems, convincing the local registrar that I could conduct a legal marriage ceremony for them. However, we did eventually succeed. Below are the happy couple, following the marriage.