The History of Katedralskolan

The history of Katedralskolan

Katedralskolan - A brief story

Katedralskolan in Lund - is the oldest school in the Nordic countries. It dates back to 1085, when a generous gift letter from the Danish King Canute the Saint (King Knut) - today known as - to St. Laurenti's church created the conditions for a chapel. It is unclear if the school started their schooling immediately or not - but in the absence of any contradictions, we have assumed that it did upon its founding. During its 935 years since its founding, this school has met varying fates and had different directions. From the beginning, it was probably a pure church school for the needs of the church, that is, for the training of priests and other executives in various levels within the church. For a period, in during the Scanian wars and the transition to Swedish domination, it was reduced to an insignificant school for children with two classes. But despite all – teaching, in some form, has been continuously maintained all these years! Today, Katedralskolan is a modern upper secondary school with approximately 1500 pupils.

Until 1837, ie during almost 750 years, the school was constantly located in buildings in the immediate vicinity of the cathedral. But this year, the cathedral acquired the "Viffertska gården" at Stora Södergatan to Katedralskolan. It was in 1937 the school moved into the manor with its 141 students. In addition, this became a place for housing for the school principal!

Since the beginning of the 16th century, the "Viffertska gården" was considered the largest and most prestigious of the manors in Lund. Several highly regarded and significant people had owned the manor. For nearly two years, from September 1716 to June 1718, Karl XII had his residence and headquarters here. At the time of the acquisition of the manor, general mayor Mauritz Clairfelt was the owner. The manor's was founded at the end of the 16th century in brick on stone footing with 90 cm thick exterior walls. The building is one of three still existing brick buildings from the 16th century in Lund. The other two are Kungshuset (the Royal House) in Lundagård and “Stäket”.

Of course, this high-rise residential building in its current state was not well suited as a school building. So, therefore, during the next 25 years, extensive structural changes were made to the buildings. First, a superstructure was added to the stable, which was equipped as a gym/ fencing hall. Then the kitchen part was demolished and the first of the building blocks along Svanegatan arrived. And so, in 1856, came a major redevelopment of the building, a redevelopment that largely characterizes the house's appearance today. 

 

The main building

KatedralskolanAmong the school buildings on the site today, the main building is probably the most imposing. It was completed in the autumn of 1896. Alfred Hellerström, the architect who was an extremely productive and successful architect at the turn of the last century. At the time he was the city architect in Helsingborg and designed, among others, the City Hall and Nicolaiskolan. In Lund, he was the architect of the Grand Hotel, the University Library and the Sparbankshuset opposite the cathedral. But among the architects of Katedralskolan’s buildings are also the less known yet famous Carl Georg Brunius and Helgo Zettervall!

 

The beech

Boken sommar

It is probably not very unusual or strange that a school has a giant tree as a symbol. Katedralskolan has one also - the beech tree. Possibly, the tree at Katedralskolan is known for being a little more extraordinary and noticeable than most others in our country due to the following claims: 

Katedralskolan's beech tree was planted in 1857 by the then Principal Gustaf Magnus Sommelius. The tree, a beech plant, was a gift to the school. According to the donor, the age of the plant was then 20 years, which means it began to grow the same year Katedralskolan moved to the manor where it was planted. The principal planted the tree as a small replacement of the large garden which was then used as a school yard.   

 What is special - and unique - about this tree is that; since 1869, the dates for the tree's blooming are listed for each year, specified in three steps:

  1. The first buds exploded,
  2. The buds generally blown out, and
  3. The tree fully leafed .

And since 1869, it is incumbent on the school's associate professor of biology to be responsible for this dating, and the inclusion of this data in a special book, "The Book of the Beech" (in Swedish:”Boken om boken”), which today is supposed to be an unprecedented phenological document in our country.

And one more thing: Ever since 1887, the school has a special ceremony in the school yard to celebrate our tree with speech and song - and in modern times also dancing around the tree.

 

Boken dansDue to sickness, the beech was chopped down on the 4th June 2012. At that time, a grand funeral, where some last mournful songs were sung. A speech was held to praise the tree. Part of the old book’s torso is found on the schoolyard located towards Grönegatan. Trees cloned from the old beech have been grown at a nursery-garden in the Netherlands and in December 2015, no less than five beeches were planted with the aim of eventually replacing the old tree.

 

 

“I skydd av nattens mörker har hon anlänt - Katedralskolans nya drottning, vårt vårdträd!”

Boken 2019

And yes, it's our big beech tree, already 40 years old and weighs 6-8 tons! That it arrives during the fall is a conscious choice to minimize the risk of damage during a dry summer. - The beech tree is a very delicate tree with shallow roots. You cannot move it from a nursery-garden without planting it several times. This also means that each move must take place at the right time and in the right environment so that the tree feels at home in its new environment. In the hole where the tree is hoisted down, normal plant soil has been laid in large quantities topped with a layer of mulch, which is a mixture between bark mulch and branch / leaf compost to make simulate forest like conditions. Around the tree will be a larger grass area with a wooden deck.

 

Scenia

On April 5, 1945, a group of students at Katedralskolan founded the Theatre Association Scenia. The main initiators was Carl-Adolf von Sydow, Lars-Erik Liedholm and Eric Östberg. von Sydow became the first chairman of the association. These young men did not heed for any challenges. Already the following winter they set up and performed Hjalmar Bergman's "Swedenhjelms" with Carl-Adolf von Sydow in the title role, Yvonne Lombard as Julia and Lars-Erik Liedholm as the youngest son Bo – not to mention that these three names then devoted their lives to the theatre. (It is well known that Carl-Adolf, a student at Katedralskolan in 1947, later changed his first name to the artist name Max.) As the active students graduated and left the school, new students came, and the challenges of setting up and performing classical works continued throughout the 1950s. At the initiative of Max von Sydow, former Scenia members  gathered at Katedralskolan’s music hall in the beginning of April 1984 and April 1994 to celebrate Scenia's 40th and 50th anniversary. On the latter occasion, among other things, they performed the final act of "Swedenhjelms" - with the same cast as 50 years earlier! 

(Principal author of former Deputy Principal Örjan Paulin)