Among the first Anglican residents in Heidelberg was Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of King James I of England and VI of Scotland. Elizabeth married the German Elector Friedrich V on Valentine’s Day 1613 and took up residence in Heidelberg castle. Her chaplain Revd Dr Alexander Chapman conducted Anglican services in the castle chapel, and in 1619 the poet and priest John Donne preached there while on a diplomatic mission to Germany. In the nineteenth century large numbers of people from the British Isles came to Heidelberg as short- or long-term residents: teachers and soldiers, artists and businessmen. They wanted a church of their own in the city and negotiated with the municipal authorities for use of the church building where we now meet (the former chapel of a Dominican Convent founded in 1723). From 1844 to 1914 this was The English Church.
The church was closed down at the time of the First World War in 1914, then handed over to the Old Catholics (see Church Relationships ) in 1936. In 1971 a trio of Englishwomen living in Heidelberg with their families requested the use of the building for a new English-speaking congregation once a month – and so The English Church Heidelberg was awakened to new life at Easter 1971. The church celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2011, and in 2013 commemorated the 400th anniversary of the wedding of Elizabeth Stuart and Friedrich V (Valentine’s Day 1613) with a madrigal concert on Valentine’s Day and Choral Evensong in the summer, both at the chapel of Heidelberg Castle. We are already looking forward to our half-centenary in 2021!