Volbu church is located in Øystre Slidre. It has probably stood where it is now as long as there has been a church in the community. There is no other mention anywhere of other churches in Volbu. The present church was built around 1830. That is the year written on the spire. The protocol of Volbu says that the old church was taken down and the new one built around 1820. However, a man born in 1826 can vaguely remember the old church, so that fits better with the year 1830. We know little of the old church, but an excavation in 1969 lead to findings of coins dating back to Håkon Håkonsen's time. That may mean that the church existed in the 13th century and perhaps even before that.
The old church was, of course, a Stave church and there were external galleries around the church in the 17th century. Volbu church was devoted St Blasius, who was an early Bishop in Kappadokia (central Turkey) in the 4th century. There was only one other church devoted to this saint and that was Megarden Church in Skåbu. Up until around 1700 there was a mass in Volbu on St. Blasli Day. Even later it was common to refer to this church as Baaskyrkja.
The old medieval church was taken down around 1830 probably because it was very small. The reason they took it down was probably its size; if it had been only because of poor condition they would have repaired it, as they did elsewhere. The old church was probably built for about 100 members. That would have been about the number of people who lived in Volbu before the Great Plague. By 1830 about 200-250 people lived in Volbu.
Before the plague, there were probably about 15 farms in the area. We know for sure about these farms: Løkji, Onstad, Veningstad, Søre Jørstad, Istad and Skatrud. These are the farms that have their own matrikkel numbers. It seems that Johnsrud and Mattiagarden, Sannes and Brøthøvd may have been their own farms also before the plague. We think that some of these farms were divided in many ways. Old papers say nothing about that when it comes to Volbu, but many of those farms were big enough that they were certainly divided.
Photo on the right, caption reads "from Volbu, photographed in 1923 or 24. In the foreground of the church is the old school house and to the right is the hospital, which was taken down in 1980."
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Last updated: December 26, 2016
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