Swedes in the United Kingdom

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British Swedes
Total population
Swedish-born residents
22,525 (2001 Census)
25,000 (2010 ONS estimate)
Swedish nationals
33,000 (2010 ONS estimate)
Regions with significant populations
London, South East England
British English, Swedish
Christianity (predominantly Lutheranism)

Swedes in the United Kingdom or British Swedes are immigrants from Sweden living in the United Kingdom as well as their British-born descendants. Although only around 25,000 Swedish-born people live in the UK, millions of Britons have some degree of Scandinavian ancestry that dates back over 1,000 years to the Viking invasion of Great Britain.[1] The Swedish community in the UK is amongst the largest in the Swedish diaspora; in 2001 only the United States, Norway and Finland within the OECD had larger Swedish-born populations.[2]

History and settlement[edit]

The earliest wave of migration from modern day Sweden, Norway and Denmark came in the form of the Viking invasion of Britain in the year 793.[3] Viking raids occurred up and down the largely undefended east coast of England and Scotland during the eighth and ninth centuries and Scandinavian settlements became established over the entire island of Great Britain, the most important of which was Jórvík (now York).[3] Viking rule came to an end in the 11th century when Normans invaded the shores of Britain. Despite this, Scandinavian influence is evident in the UK even to this day and many millions of Britons have some Viking heritage (especially in Northern England, Eastern England, Scotland and the Shetland Islands).[1]

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Swedish emigration to the United States was rife and the majority of Swedes sailed from Gothenburg to Kingston upon Hull before travelling to Liverpool or Southampton to continue their journey to North America.[4] This created a significant Swedish presence in these cities, so much so that Swedish churches were built to cater for the dynamic communities.[5] Although most emigrants eventually left the ports for the US, some remained in Britain and started their new lives a stage early.[5]

The number of Swedes migrating to the UK grew following the 1995 enlargement of the European Union, when Sweden joined the EU. All EU citizens are able to move and freely seek work in any other EU member state.[6] The number of Swedish-born people in the UK doubled from around 11,000 in 1991 to 22,525 in 2001.[6]

Demographics and population[edit]

Gustav Adolf Church in Liverpool, the oldest surviving Swedish church in the UK

According to the 2001 UK Census, 22,525 Swedish-born people were living in the UK at the turn of the 21st century,[2] the Office for National Statistics have estimated this figure has risen by about 11% to 25,000 in 2010.[7] The same ONS report estimates that some 33,000 people with Swedish nationality are living in the UK.[7] The number of Swedish students temporarily living in the UK stood at 3,185 in 2008–2009.[8]

In 2001, over 82% of all local authorities in the UK registered at least one Swedish-born resident, with the majority being concentrated in London (9,477) and South East England (4,786).[6] Within London the affluent areas of Richmond, Hyde Park, Kensington and Chelsea had amongst the largest Swedish-born populations in the country.[6] Outside of London and the South East, 1,855 Swedish-born people were living in the East of England, 1,432 in South West England and 1,188 in Scotland.[6]

The Church of Sweden has a presence in the cities of London, Liverpool and Middlesbrough. The Swedish Church in London which is part of the Church of Sweden Abroad claims to have 3,800 followers and runs the Ulrika Eleonora Church in Marylebone, as well as the Seamen's Church in Rotherhithe.[9] The oldest surviving Church of Sweden church in the UK is the Gustav Adolf Church which was built in 1883 in the port city of Liverpool.[5] This specific church was constructed to accommodate the Scandinavian seamen visiting the city alongside the growing number of Scandinavian migrants travelling to North America via Liverpool - a figure that reached 50,000 per year during the late 19th century.[5]

Notable individuals[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Myths of British ancestry". Prospect Magazine. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Overview: The Vikings, 800 to 1066". BBC. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  4. ^ "Liverpool and Emigration in the 19th and 20th Centuries". National Museums Liverpool. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d "History of the Gustaf Adolf Church in Liverpool". Liverpool International Nordic Community. Archived from the original on 3 August 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Born Abroad: Sweden". BBC. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  7. ^ a b "Estimated population resident in the United Kingdom, by foreign country of birth (Table 1.3)". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  8. ^ "Top EU sending countries". UK Council for International Student Affairs. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  9. ^ "Swedish Church in London". Swedish Church in London. Retrieved 28 December 2010.