The parish church of St Stanislaus the Bishop, Brześć Kujawski
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The parish church of St Stanislaus the Bishop

Brześć Kujawski

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A valuable example of a Gothic church located in the Eastern Kuyavia region, with the original, hall layout of its interior being restored during the first half of the 20th century in the course of an extensive regothicisation scheme. Another notable feature are the modernist painted decorations which grace the walls of the interior.

History

The very first church to be erected in this location - the wooden church of St Peter and St Paul - was located in the ancillary settlement accompanying the local hillfort, in an area known today as Stary Brześć. The invocation of this church was later extended to include the name of St Stanislaus the Bishop (after 1253). This church is mentioned in written sources from the year 1580 as an abandoned structure; it is believed to have been demolished shortly afterwards. Another church of St Peter and St Paul was erected for the funds provided by Casimir I, the duke of Kuyavia, somewhere around the year 1240; this church was situated in a different location, within the boundaries of the chartered town, atop a hill which towered above the surrounding lands. The existing church is located in the southern part of town; it was erected after the year 1320 and subsequently extended in the 15th century, thus becoming a three-nave Gothic church. In 1556, the church was damaged by fire, with the reconstruction efforts taking place in subsequent years. In 1578, the church remained under the administration of the Wrocław chapter. The information collected during an inspection visit in 1584 confirms that, in addition to its chapels, the church also featured the main altarpiece dedicated to St Stanislaus the Martyr, as well as the side altarpieces of Corpus Christi, All Saints, St George, St Anne and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1657, the invading Swedish forces set the church on fire, leading to the destruction of its roof and vaulted ceilings. In 1710, the church was rebuilt; inside, there was now a flat ceiling supported by a trio of pillars dividing the interior of the church into a pair of naves, while the façades of the building were now adorned by Baroque gables. Further renovation works took place in 1766. In 1806, the church was closed due to the collapse of its vaulted ceiling. In 1812, the French army adapted the church to serve as a storage facility.

The building subsequently underwent a thorough restoration in the years 1819-1830, encompassing its walls, roof cladding and truss (which were all replaced), steeple as well as window and door joinery, altarpieces and pews; a new wooden flooring was also installed. After 1867, the church underwent restoration once again. In 1874, the chapels were demolished. In years 1907-1909, the church was regothicised based on the design produced by the architect Tomasz Pajzderski. The pillars which had once divided the interior were reconstructed, with the interior now featuring a three-nave layout; the vaulted ceilings were reconstructed as well, while the gables gracing the church were brought back to their original height, their design now bearing the hallmarks of the Gothic Revival style. The preserved arched apertures inside the church served as a basis for the construction of a pair of chapels. In 1917, Stanisław Pawlak, a Warsaw-based sculptor, created a new main altarpiece in the form of a Gothic Revival triptych, with an ensemble of sculptures depicting the Crucifixion scene at its centre. The two side altarpiece were added in the same year. In years 1909-1911, the church received stained glass windows based on the designs produced by Konrad Krzyżanowski. In 1910, a new, 18-stop pipe organ produced by the Warsaw-based Adolf Homan Company was installed, while the church façades underwent renovation. The bell tower standing in front of the church was also reconstructed during that period. In years 1925-1927, the interior received modernist painted decorations executed by Julian Makarewicz from the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts.

In years 1981-1999, the church roof was covered with copper sheeting, while the interior underwent yet another series of renovation works, encompassing mostly the painted decorations - including those of the two chapels. In 2010, the church underwent a comprehensive restoration.

Description

The church is situated in the southern part of the original chartered town, between the Farna and Podmierna streets.

It is a free-standing, three-nave brick hall church with a pair of symmetrical chapels forming the arms of the main body, which also features a rectangular chancel. Inside the naves, visitors can admire stellar vaults dating back to 1908, while the chancel features a lierne vault with a net-like arrangement of ribs. The four-bay main body is adjoined by a pair of symmetrical chapels positioned on its northern and southern sides. Its compact body uniform in shape and topped with a tall gable roof. A cylindrical staircase turret occupies the northern corner between the nave and the chancel.

The front (western) façade follows a single-axial layout and features three-stepped buttresses at the corners, with two additional buttresses positioned closer to the centre and flanking the archivolt Gothic entrance portal, topped with a pointed arch.

The upper section of the front façade as well as the surfaces of the buttresses are adorned with pointed-arch blind windows, their surface covered with plaster. The blind windows positioned closer to the edges are larger than the rest. The reconstructed triangular gable, designed in the Gothic Revival style, is partitioned with lesenes topped with quadrangular pinnacles, the spaces between them occupied by blind windows adorned with tracery. The middle part of the gable is divided into two distinct sections, with the upper section capped with a horizontal parapet surmounted by a trio of pinnacles.

The southern and northern façades of the nave both follow a four-axial layout, their walls punctuated by pointed-arch windows and adjoined by rectangular chapels. The windows of the chapels are smaller than those of the main body, while their gables are adorned with pinnacles and five pairs of pointed-arch blind windows surmounted by oculi which pierce the small, triangular gablets positioned above the roofline, between the pinnacles.

The eastern façade follows a single-axial layout and is accentuated by s large, pointed-arch blind window, its surface covered with plaster. The decorative gable of the chancel is adorned by five slender blind windows partitioned with brick lesenes surmounted by pinnacles.

The northern façade of the chancel follows a two-axial layout and is adjoined by a small staircase turret positioned in the corner between the chancel and the nave. The southern façade of the chancel is adjoined by a five-axial sacristy.

The tall, three-nave interior features a stellar vault supported by six pillars, reconstructed in 1908. The northern chapel, designed on a roughly square floor plan, was likewise reconstructed during the same year, as was its rectangular southern counterpart. The chancel and the chapels all feature vaulted ceilings of the barrel type, adorned by a network of decorative brick ribs, with those inside the chancel forming a stellar pattern. Barrel vaults with lunettes are used for the sacristy and the storage section. The rood arch and the arcades dividing the nave and the side aisles are topped with pointed arches, as are all windows and entrance doors. The Gothic Revival organ gallery is supported by an arcade resting on pillars, with three pointed arches in the main nave and a pair of semi-circular arches at the edges of the arcade.

The church is surrounded by a Gothic Revival perimeter wall from the early 20th century, featuring small decorative pillars and shallow, pointed-arch arcades.

The monument is open to visitors. Viewing of the church is only possible by prior telephone appointment.

compiled by Mirella Korzus, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 10-12-2014 - 19-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet, Kościół parafialny rzymsko-katolicki pw. Św. Stanisława Biskupa, prepared by Kosiniec H., 1994, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Włocławek; Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw.
  • Łoziński J. Z., Miłobędzki A., Atlas zabytków architektury w Polsce, Warsaw 1967, p. 45,
  • Zabytki architektury i budownictwa w Polsce, issue 2, Warsaw 1972, p. 71
  • Monografia Brześcia Kujawskiego, Włocławek 1970
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. 11, Dawne województwo bydgoskie, issue 18, Warsaw 1988, pp. 107-110.
  • Zabytki architektury województwa bydgoskiego, Bydgoszcz 1974, p. 305.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: ok. 1320 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Plac Władysława Łokietka 13, Brześć Kujawski
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district włocławski, commune Brześć Kujawski - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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