Palace complex, Bejsce
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
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One of the best-preserved Classicist palaces in Poland, featuring a unique interior décor comprising both painted and plasterwork decorations as well as an artificial grotto beneath the main drawing room. The entire complex retains deliberate functional and visual links to the nearby Gothic parish church.

History

From the Middle Ages, Bejsce remained a large, well-kept estate, remaining in the hands of the Firlej noble family until the 17th century; during that period, a grand palace was already in existence, as was the surrounding park which also included a botanical garden first mentioned in the first half of the 17th century. Towards the end of the 16th century, Mikołaj Firlej, the voivode of Cracow, requested the construction of a tomb chapel adjoining the existing parish church, its resplendent interior being often referred to as the peak achievement of Polish Mannerist architecture. A surviving description of the manor, created in 1772 – during the period when the entire site remained in the hands of the Sanguszko family – tells of the old, stone palace surrounded by an Italianate garden and a park, the most salient feature of which was the impressive avenue lined with hornbeams and lime trees. In 1796, Bejsce was acquired by the Badeni family of the Bończa coat of arms; it is during that period that the history of the existing residential complex begins in earnest. In 1802, the construction of the new palace – erected at the request of Marcin Badeni (1751-1824) – was completed. Badeni worked as the director of national forests and estates in the Duchy of Warsaw, and later on went on to become the chairman of the Supreme Court and minister of justice in the Congressional Kingdom of Poland. The palace itself was designed by one of the most gifted architects of the Classicist period in Poland – Jakub Kubicki, the disciple of Dominik Merlini and the man behind such landmarks as the Warsaw Belvedere or the Igołomia palace. During the 19th century, an extensive manor farm was formed around the park, featuring a few dozen wooden and masonry utility buildings, including the now-defunct Gothic Revival distillery. Somewhere around the year 1870, when the Bejsce manor became the property of the Byszewski family, the park was redesigned by Augustyn Denizot, attaining a more informal appearance of a landscape garden. In 1944, the entire manor was nationalised; initially, the palace served as a school of agriculture; later on, it became a nursing home maintained by the Convent of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Cracow. From 1952 onwards, the interiors of the palace have served as the State Social Welfare Home for Adults. After World War II came to an end, the building was subjected to restoration and conservation works on an ongoing basis, allowing for its historical substance to be preserved in excellent condition, especially since the amount of wartime losses was minimal. In particular, the restoration works performed focused on the plasterwork and painted decorations in the main rooms of the palace which remain one of its primary attractions today. However, the manor farm and utility buildings which had once accompanied the palace are no longer extant, with the demolition of the latter having been completed in 1995. The renovation and conservation works covering the interiors, façades and décor of the palace are an ongoing process which has intensified after the year 2000. Today, all that remains of the palace, park and manor farm complex is its residential section, i.e. the palace, the park and the site of the former gardens, bounded by a group of ponds to the west.

Description

The palace complex is situated in the eastern part of the village, on the western slope of the hill surmounted by the parish church. Originally, the complex consisted of three sections – the residential section with the palace, park and gardens, the parish church and the manor farm. Today, only the first two of these are still extant, arranged around the east-west axis, with the parish church situated at the eastern end thereof, while the palace surrounded by the extensive park and garden complex is positioned at the western end. A system of ponds lies west of the park. The Classicist palace is a stone edifice which has survived to the present day without any major alterations, allowing us to admire its original form. The spacious, two-storey building features a tall semi-basement; the second storey of the palace takes the form of a mezzanine, being significantly lower than the piano nobile below. The sloping terrain results in the basement walls being exposed on the garden side of the building, so that the garden façade of the palace has the appearance of a three-storey structure. The main body of the palace is covered with a four-sloped roof terminating in a cuboid structure consisting of two chimneys linked together by a solid roof parapet. The main (northern) façade is preceded by a monumental colonnaded giant order portico, its four fluted Doric columns supporting a large, triangular pediment bearing an inscription commissioned by Marcin Badeni, which reads: “PRACA NADAŁA SPOCZYNEK” (“Work has led us to rest”) – a clear indication of the intended purpose of the entire complex. A centrally positioned three-sided avant-corps containing the end section of the round ballroom within projects from the garden façade; much like the front portico, the avant-corps also features a triangular pediment. Beneath the avant-corps terrace lies the artificial grotto, its serrated walls made of massive boulders. In contrast to the Classical symmetry and restraint of the rest of the palace, the grotto is an evident nod to the exalted aesthetic of Romanticism. All of the façades of the palace are topped with an entablature with a projecting, moulded cornice and a cubiform frieze which is also present beneath the triangular pediments of the front façade and the garden avant-corps. The alternating arrangement of purely rectangular and arched windows as well as the decorative rustication of the walls provide the finishing touch. The resplendent interior décor is surprisingly well-preserved; this applies, in particular, to the former ballroom – a spacious interior spanning two levels, designed on a circular plan (with a conch-shaped niche), featuring a decorative ceiling resembling a cloister vault with a flat centre section, framed with a profiled surround consisting of faux plasterwork coffers. The walls of the ballroom are adorned with French-style plasterwork and painted decorations incorporating the images of muses and foliate motifs adorning the lesenes which occupy the spaces between the windows. The grand interior décor is supplemented by a wooden parquet floor made of different wood species. Decorations designed in a similar style are also present in other rooms inside the palace, including the entrance vestibule (which also features a surviving original stove made of white tiles commonly referred to as the Berlin tiles, its restrained decorations still bearing the hallmarks of the Rococo style) as well as the oval study in the south-eastern part of the edifice. The artificial grotto beneath the ballroom features an intriguing, dome-shaped ceiling made of rough, irregular stones. The palace is surrounded by a well-maintained landscape park bounded by a group of ponds to the west, its original compositional concept which brings together the individual parts of the complex still readily apparent despite the fact that these sections originated from different periods.

The site may be visited upon prior arrangement with the management of the State Social Welfare Home.

Compled by Aleksandra Ziółkowska, 07-12-2015

Bibliography

  • Karta ewidencyjna zabytków architektury i budownictwa, Bejsce, Pałac w zespole pałacowym Badenich, oprac. A. Myślińska, 1997, Archiwum Wojewódzkiego Urzędu Ochrony Zabytków w Kielcach.
  • Holewiński M., Studium historyczne zespołu pałacowo-parkowego w Bejscach, 1983, mps w Archiwum Wojewódzkiego Urzędu Ochrony Zabytków w Kielcach.
  • Bajka Z., Bejsce. 1000 lat historii, Kraków 1994.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, t. III, z. 9, Warszawa 1961.

General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: 1796 - 1802
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Bejsce 230
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district kazimierski, commune Bejsce
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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