Filial church of St. Anne, Brzeziny
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Filial church of St. Anne

Brzeziny

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A building characteristic of the time and place of its construction. Its high value stems from the combination of the older brick part (a former 17-century chapel, currently sacristy) with a wooden part from the early 18th century, and its extraordinary spatial layout. Also the brick ambo is unusual. The monument features valuable internal fittings coming from the older church, including a rood beam embedded in the church’s body and a late-Gothic crucifix. In 2013, it was granted the title of “Well-preserved Historical Monument”.

History

According to tradition, the church is located in the place of the former one from the 15th century.

In 1502, owing to the effort of Stanisław Lasocki, Mansionaries were brought to the parish.

It is said that in 1616, a brick chapel, founded by Stanisław Warszycki (1577-1617), coat of arms Abdank (Habdank), the voivode of Podlaskie Voivodeship, appeared, but it is not known for sure whether the historical information about it indeed refer to the chapel of St Anne, as the only thing known is that Stanisław Warszycki founded a brick chapel “at the church of Brzeziny”. Nevertheless, structural properties of the walls of the brick building at the church of St Anne suggest that it could come into being in the early 17th century. With no doubt, it was recorded in documents of 1671. However, it is not known whether the brick chapel replaced an early wooden church, or whether it remained in any spatial relation to it all.

In 1719, the current wooden church was built, founded by townsman Bujakiewcz. At that time, the brick chapel, or at least part thereof, was erected. Probably in the same period, a wooden half-timbered belfry was built, and the church area was fenced.

In the early 19th century, both the church and the belfry were in bad technical condition. Efforts were made to carry out ongoing repairs, which, however, had no durable effects.

The church was renovated in 1859, twice in the 20th century, and in years 2005-2013.

Description

The church complex is located in the southern part of Brzeziny. The building occupies the central part of a spacious plot, fenced by steel wire mesh. It is not oriented and stands on the eastern part of Św. Anny Street, facing Sportowa Street and the former, so-called St Anne market, where currently a bus station is located. To the north-east from the front of the church, within a distance of approx. 30 m., there is a wooden belfry, constituting part of the complex. The complex is accessible (the former church cemetery) from Św. Anny Street, through a modern gate and a wicket gate of steel rods.

The building does not show any distinct style, there are no decorative elements from the outside. Its form is typical of wooden churches built in this part of the country during the Baroque period. Its varieties are common in villages and towns in central Poland.

In the wooden part, the church is a single-nave building consisting of two sections. An additional third section - the brick chapel (the current chapel), is slightly angled in relation to the main body and located on its eastern part, and adjoins the chancel and the southern, short side of the nave log structure. The floor plan of the wooden section is based on two rectangles - a nearly square nave with approx. 10 m long side, and a slightly longer chancel, with the longer side of 6.8 m. The wooden part “envelopes” the brick chapel-sacristy in such a way so that from the eastern part the chancel wall, over the chapel-sacristy, is an extension of the nave wall. Thanks to that, a small porch in the corner between the chancel and the chapel-sacristy was created from the south, accessible from the east from the outside.

The main entrance to the church is located in the front (northern) façade, and the side entrance can be found - traditionally, in the right (in this case, western) wall of the nave.

Inside, along the whole front wall, there is a shallow choir - an organ gallery supported by two posts-columns, accessible via the ladder stairs in the north-western corner.

The roof covering the church has two ridges, and there is a gable roof over the nave, with gable inclination angle of approx 45º, and a joint roof with three triangular sections over the chancel. On the eastern side, the gable surface over the chancel constitutes an extension of the gable surface over the nave. In a similar way the largest surface of the three-section roof over the chapel-sacristy connects with the roof surface over the chancel.

The gable of the front façade is topped with a low quadrangular turret for a steeple, covered with a four-sloped, tented roof topped with a plain metal crucifix.

The church rests on a low foundation of field stone with additions of brick, plastered at a later date.

The walls are supported on a wooden corner-notched log structure of thick pine boards joined with hidden-pin dove-tail joints without protruding log ends, with hidden dowel pins and wooden boards attached from the outside in vertical abutting arrangement, with battens covering board joints. From the inside the walls remained raw, smoothed, without wall painting. The said condition was restored during restoration works in years 2005-2013. Earlier - from 1993 on - the interior walls were painted with oil paint.

The walls of the former chapel (currently sacristy) vary in thickness (they exceed 80 cm in some spots) and were made of field stone and loose-laid brick on lime and sandstone mortar, without a discernible pattern (“crude” wall), and plastered on both sides.

The floors in the whole building are made of wood. They were replaced during the restoration works in the years 2005-2013. The floor level in the chancel is elevated by a dozen or so centimetres above the nave level.

The nave and the chancel are covered with a roof resting on king post truss.

Over the northern part of the nave, there is a reduced three-post roof (of the “king post” type), with every second A-frame full, and the remaining part of the nave features a single-post roof (also of the “king post” type), similarly as the chancel. Additional vertical elements on the sides of the A-frames, joined with the frame beams, collars, and rafters with the use of notch joints and dowels, act as braces fastening the A-frame beams with rafters, and reduce the load of the roof structure. To the A-frame beams, a plain ceiling made of boards in abutting arrangement is attached from beneath (modern boarding - replaced during the last renovation. Before that, from 1986 on, the ceilings in the nave and in the chancel were covered with plywood).

The beamed ceiling over the sacristy-chapel is made of reused materials, and it is lined with boards from underneath. Over the sacristy, there is a roof based on a rafter structure which was replaced during the last renovation.

All roofs are covered with wood shingles laid on ridge beams. Wood shingles were replaced during restoration works in the years 2005-2013.

The front façade is simple, symmetrical, with three axes. The gable is separated from the log structure with a narrow, simple cornice - eaves board, topped with a low turret for a steeple. The wall is covered with vertical weatherboards with trimming in places were the boards are joined. The walls of the steeple have analogical cladding. The foundation and sill plate are covered with chamfered overlapping planks. On the central axis, there are two-leaf doors, with a round arch in the top section, on strap hinges; the leafs are clad from outside with a “brick pattern” - in 2014, they were replaced by contemporary ones, as a result of which the massive jambs and parts of the lintel were seriously damaged. The jambs and the lintel are covered with a contemporary surround of wooden boards. On the side axes, at the choir level, there are two rectangular, horizontally oriented, eight-panel windows - installed in the recent times in the place of the historic windows, with internal partitions preserved. There are no weatherboards around the windows, massive window frames are visible and accentuated with surrounds of narrow planks arranged around the circumference of each window. In front of the doors, in 2013, a gable roof was added, resting on two pillars - a form which is absent in historical terms in churches of that type, even if it occurs in the place of a former porch.

The western façade is covered with weatherboards in the same way as the front façade. The nave section has one axis with a door in the lower part and a rectangular, vertical fifteen-panel window over it. The door is plane, single-leaf, and it was replaced in the recent time, in 2014. However, it imitates the historical door. At that time, the historical blacksmith lock was also dismantled. Also the historical window was replaced by a modern one. The chancel section has two axis with a twin window divided by a post. Both windows are rectangular, vertical, and eight-panel. The window leaves were replaced by modern ones, with former partitions preserved. The window openings are finished in the same way as in the front façade.

The eastern façade has three axes and is covered with weatherboards, analogically to the front façade. On the axis on the south, there is an entrance to the porch, and on the central axis, there is a small window of the sacristy-chapel with an arch in the top section, created at a later time, which precedes the façade of the wooden main body. On the axis on the northern side, there is a fifteen-panel window of the nave, identical and finished analogically as the window in the western wall of the nave. Also here the historical window was replaced by a modern one. In the north-eastern corner of the sacristy, there is a massive buttress from the times when the church was built. To the left of and above the window of the sacristy, there is a small niche framed by pilasters on the sides, terminating in a stepped cornice.

The southern façade is comprised of the rectangular back wall of the chancel with the porch, a receded wall of the nave on the western side, and a receded wall of the former chapel-sacristy on the east. It is covered with weatherboards in the same way as the front façade. The upper section of the back wall of the chancel has no windows. However, two small openings are outlined in the weatherboards: a round one on the axis of this wall, and an elongated one terminating in semi-circles on the sides. The openings are of unknown origin. Perhaps the elongated one allowed more light into the collators' gallery, which could be located on the eastern side of the chancel, above the chapel-sacristy.

The church's décor is very modest. Tests for the presence of wall painting, carried out after removing the layer of oil paint off the walls, showed no traces of valuable painting decoration.

The nave and the chancel are separated by a rood beam which from the western side is at the same time one of the beams of the log structure of the nave's southern wall, and from the eastern side - due to the inclination of the southern wall of the nave at the meeting point with the chapel-sacristy - runs along a unusual path - along the wall, and is anchored in the eastern wall of the nave just by its corner.

On the background of the raw structural beams, a high-class main altar from the 1st half of the 17th century draws particular attention.

The side altar, located in the south-eastern corner of the nave, comes from a later time (early 18th century).

In the brick north-eastern corner, at the meeting point of the nave and the chancel, there is also a brick, unusual, low white-painted ambo, with modest clumsy Baroque detail on two levels. The corner of the nave and the chancel at the level of the ambo is slightly truncated to allow enough place for the preacher on the rostrum.

The floor and ceiling are made of wooden boards and just like the walls, they have been left in the natural colour of the wood.

A shallow choir, resting on two columns with a pronounced entasis, supported from both solid sides with braces constitutes a semi-architectural and semi-decorative element. It can be accessed by stringer ladder stairs, replaced during the last renovation into new stairs of a modified spatial form. Its openwork balustrade is made of decoratively cut, wide boards, and has a massive, straight, modestly profiled handhold, and a cornice of the same type just above the load bearing beam.

The beautiful, lavishly profiled rood beam was brought from another church and embedded in the log structure of the church during construction. On the beam, there is an inscription (probably placed there after the rood beam was installed, but before the crucifix was hanged), reading: "HIC MEA ME PIETAS LIGNO CONFIXIT IN ALTO ANNO D[OMI]NI ...3 HIC ME SOLUS AMOR NON MEA CULPA TENFT", which can be translated as: "HERE THE LOVE OF MINE NAILED ME TO A HIGH TREE. I WAS LED HERE BY THE LOVE ALONE AND NOT GUILT", and in the middle, there is a date "ANNO DOMINI ...3", currently incomplete due to damages done during the installation of the crucifix. During the restoration works in the years 2005-2013, the red-dark blue colours of the beam - harmonising with the colours of the side altar - were restored.

On the rood beam, there is a crucifix installed at a later time - dated for the early 16th century and late-Gothic in style, with the figure of Christ with anatomic details, with very sophisticated, gilded perizonium.

The Mannerist, lavishly decorated, two-level main altar with strapwork in the lower section of the columns, and a grapevine motif in the upper part, was brought from another church. In the altar, there are two paintings: a depiction of St Anne teaching Mary (from 1884), and - in a higher part - a depiction of the Holy Trinity (from the 1st half of the 17th century), with signs of repainting. Currently (Autumn 2014), the altar is dismantled for conservation purposes. In its place, there is a banner with an image of the altar to the scale of 1:1. During the conservation works, on the back of the frame of the main picture, date 1622 was revealed, which is probably the date of the frame itself, and maybe also the whole altar.

The side altar is significantly more modest than the main altar. It also features two paintings: of St Valentine healing an epileptic (17th century), and of the Worship of the Three Wise Men (early 18th century). After the examination and conservation works which ended in 2014, the dark-blue and red colour of the altar was restored, together with the gilding of the Baroque, artistic relief decoration in the form of foliage ornaments.

The fittings of the church include also a couple of sculptures from the 17th century of an obvious folk nature, as well as a beautiful Gothic baptismal font made from sandstone with carved isosceles cross and bow (crossbow?) and arrow, placed under the choir near the front door (before the restoration works it was located outside, to the right from the front door).

The altarpiece and the altarstone come from the recent times.

The church is furnished with modern chairs of mass production.

The building is available all year round; it can be visited upon prior arrangement with the parish, the Social Committee for the Renovation of Church of St Anne in Brzeziny, or during the services.

compiled by Włodzimierz Witkowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Łódź, 08-12-2014.

Bibliography

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  • Inwentaryzacja architektoniczno-budowlana kościoła p.w. św. Anny w Brzezinach (gm. loco), wyk. w latach 2004-2005 przez studentów architektury Politechniki Łódzkiej (K. Jagiełło, M. Jaworski, A. Matuszewska, M. Mazurkiewicz, D. Polakowska, P. Rzepkowska, M. Toporek, T. Wolnicki, M. Woźniczka) pod kier. W. Witkowskiego na zlecenie Społecznego Komitetu Odnowy Kościoła św. Anny w Brzezinach, dokumentacja w zbiorach parafii p.w. Podwyższenia św. Krzyża (S.K.O. Kościoła św. Anny w Brzezinach) oraz IAiU PŁ.
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  • Kołodziej J., Dzieje i zabytki modrzewiowego kościoła św. Anny w Brzezinach, Brzeziny 2005.
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General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1719
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: św. Anny 43, Brzeziny
  • Location: Voivodeship łódzkie, district brzeziński, commune Brzeziny (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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