The cemetery of the parish of St Martin and St Nicholas, currently serving as the municipal cemetery, commonly referred to as the old parish cemetery, Bydgoszcz
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The cemetery of the parish of St Martin and St Nicholas, currently serving as the municipal cemetery, commonly referred to as the old parish cemetery

Bydgoszcz

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The oldest existing necropolis in the city of Bydgoszcz, serving as the final resting place for many eminent members of the local Catholic community; today, the cemetery remains an important regional landmark, although its significance also goes beyond the region in which it lies due to the presence of a burial plot dedicated to the French troops who died during the French-Prussian War of 1870-1871 as well as the grave of the Hungarian-born engineer Józef Szügyi Trajtler.

History

In December 1808, the Bydgoszcz city council acquired a plot of land with a total surface of 1 hectare, located in the erstwhile suburban community of Okole, on the southern side of the road leading towards what is now known as the village of Czyżkówko. The parcel, entrusted to the parish of St Martin and St Nicholas, would serve as the site of a municipal Catholic cemetery, founded in 1809. The first burials took place here in 1811 (perhaps even earlier), after the Prussian authorities declared that the deceased were no longer to be interred in burial grounds that surrounded the local churches. In 1828, the unpaved path running alongside the cemetery was converted into a cobbled road leading towards Koronowo. Once completed, the necropolis began serving the needs of the Catholic community of both the city of Bydgoszcz and the surrounding area. In 1855, it was extended by a further 0.4 hectares. In 1877, the Okole suburb was incorporated into the city of Bydgoszcz, which meant that the cemetery was now located within the city limits. Until ca. 1892, the necropolis was not divided into individual burial plots; there was no binding burial regulations in place, and the graves were not numbered in any way. In the second half of the 19th century, the cemetery was extended, while in 1886 a new, brick perimeter fence was erected. Year 1892 saw new plantings, with the tree species represented including chestnut, maple and linden. In the early 20th century, the cemetery was no longer capable of accommodating any new burials. For this reason, in 1906, a new cemetery was established in the northern part of town. It was at that point that the previous burial ground came to be known as the “old parish cemetery” or simply the “old cemetery”. In 1924, after the main parish was subdivided into six smaller ones, the cemetery came under the administration of the newly formed parish of the Holy Trinity.

In years 1939-1945, the Nazi German authorities ordered that all Polish inscriptions be effaced; in addition, the cemetery was frequently vandalised, including by the Hitlerjugend. In years 1945-1964, burials were still taking place here, although these were limited to family tombs or to the abandoned graves from the 19th century. On July 15, 1964, the Department of Municipal and Housing Services operating within the framework of the local National Council (a local government unit in the People's Republic of Poland) adopted the decision on the closure of the necropolis, which was transformed into a municipal cemetery.

In 1978, in connection with the modernisation of the road network, the necropolis was reduced in size, with its northern section being replaced by the newly constructed section of the repositioned Grunwaldzka street. Historic tomb chapels, the house of the cemetery watchman (17 Grunwaldzka street) and the cemetery wall were all torn down, with the wall later being reconstructed in 2008 in a new location, partially due to the continuing efforts of the local residents. In 1984, a plan for the revitalisation of the cemetery was prepared, with the first works commencing in 1991. In 1994, the cemetery was reopened for new burials. From 1998 onwards, the renovation of the necropolis is partially financed from the funds obtained in the course of the annual fundraising event held on November 1.

Description

The necropolis is located in the Okole district, north-west of the Old Town. Its total surface is 3.2 hectares. The cemetery occupies a quadrangular plot of land located between Grunwaldzka street to the north and the Bydgoszcz canal to the south. The entire site is surrounded by a brick perimeter fence. The main gate is located on the northern side, at mid-width of the plot. The main walking path leads from the entrance gate towards the south; along with the remaining, unpaved paths intersecting at a right angle, it divides the cemetery into ten quadrangular burial plots. Tall lindens line the main alley, while the side paths are lined with maples and chestnuts. In the middle of the cemetery rises a Gothic Revival burial chapel, while a number of tomb chapels survive in the southern part of the necropolis. On the eastern side of the main gate there is a shrine of the Sorrow of God, dating back to 1663.

The oldest surviving headstones originate from 1852 (the grave of Ignacy Rutkowski) and from 1864. Many of the preserved headstones and statues are historical monuments in themselves - examples of fine sepulchral art crafted mostly in stone, at the workshops of sculptors such as Jakub Job, Piotr Triebler or Franciszek Giecewicz, the latter being the author of the sepulchral monument dedicated to Marta Karaśkiewiczowa (died 1924), the artistic quality of which sets it apart from other monuments of its kind.

The monument is open to visitors.

compiled by Bogna Derkowska-Kostkowska, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 26-11-2014 - 8-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Ewidencja cmentarzy woj. bydgoskiego, Cmentarz starofarny w Bydgoszczy, compiled by A. Frąckiewicz, Bydgoszcz 1983, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Toruń, branch office in Bydgoszcz (ul. Jezuicka 2).
  • Jarkiewicz Zenon, Żołnierskie groby sprzed 130 lat, “Kalendarz bydgoski” 2002, pp. 206-208.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XI: Dawne województwo bydgoskie, issue 3: Bydgoszcz i okolice, prepared by Tadeusz Chrzanowski, Marian Kornecki, Warsaw 1977, p. 32.
  • Markiewicz Alojzy Janusz, Nieśmiertelne nie umiera! Z dziejów cmentarza starofarnego w Bydgoszczy, Bydgoszcz 1992.

General information

  • Type: Roman Catholic cemetery
  • Chronology: 1809 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Grunwaldzka , Bydgoszcz
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district Bydgoszcz, commune Bydgoszcz
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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