Benedictine convent and church of St Lawrence, currently serving as the convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent de Paul and the filial Church of St Lawrence, Bysławek
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Benedictine convent and church of St Lawrence, currently serving as the convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent de Paul and the filial Church of St Lawrence

Bysławek

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A truly exceptional conventual complex formed as a result of the redesign and extension of a former manor house, originally constructed back in the 16th century.

History

The village of Bysławek was first chartered in 1389 and was the property of the Żaliński family during the 16th century. Towards the end of the said century, the owner of the village was Adam Żaliński, a judge from Tuchola, who owned a brick manor house here. In 1602, his daughter, Zofia, joined the convent of the Benedictine nuns in Chełmno. The village of Bysławek formed part of her dowry. In the same year, abbess Magdalena Mortęska, a relative of the Żaliński family, established a local branch of the congregation in Bysławek, with Zofia Żalińska being appointed as its prioress. The former manor house thus became a nunnery, following a series of necessary adaptation works. In 1607, Magdalena Mortęska funded the construction of a new church which adjoined the 16th-century manor house. The entire complex was subsequently redesigned in 1821; it is during this period that the current spatial layout of the convent was created, along with the lower storeys of the towers and the interior of the church, designed in a mixture of the Baroque and Classicist styles. In 1836, the convent was dissolved. In 1851, the government donated the former Benedictine nunnery to the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent de Paul. In years 1857-1875, the complex served the needs of the Observant Friars. On May 31, 1875, the convent and the church was taken over by the parish of the Transfiguration of Our Lord in Bysław, with the Bysławek church now serving as a filial church. In 1881, the convent was reclaimed by the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy. After 1881, the overall silhouette of the church saw significant changes as the upper storeys of the towers were completed, with the side annexes now graced by half-gables bearing the hallmarks of the Gothic Revival style. At the turn of the 20th century, a new house for the chaplain was erected in the vicinity of the convent, accompanied by utility buildings. In years 1920-1939, the convent became a retirement home for elderly nuns, accompanied by a housekeeping school for girls. During World War II, the nuns were evacuated from the former convent, which now became a German nursing home. In 1945, the nuns have reclaimed their property.

Description

The complex occupies a large, rectangular plot of land located on the northern side of the Bysław-Tuchola road, separated from the surrounding area by a brick wall on stone foundations, erected in the mid-19th century, with some modern sections. The church and the convent are situated in the south-western part of the lot, forming a single, front-gabled structure. An entrance gate flanked by a pair of wicket gates is positioned opposite the front façade. On the western side of the complex lies the church cemetery, while the chaplain’s house erected at the turn of the 20th century lies further away, forming part of the frontage of the nearby road. A group of utility buildings from the late 19th century is situated near the eastern boundary of the site.

The convent and the hall church with interior galleries were designed on an elongated rectangular plan, positioned along the north-south axis. The church, forming the southern part of the complex, features a single-bay chancel flanked by a sacristy and a Marian chapel on the western and eastern sides respectively. The main body of the church is relatively short and follows a three-nave, three-bay layout, with the main nave being wider than the chancel. A vestibule is positioned on the southern side of the church, on the ground-floor level of the tower. The northern side of the church is adjoined by the convent which features an irregular, two-bay interior layout, with the main entrance situated on the western side. The silhouette of the two-storey complex is uniform and compact, covered with a gable roof, with the southern section - the church - being dominated by the quadrangular tower likewise topped with a gable roof and flanked by a pair of annexes having the same height as the main body of the church. The structure is made of solid brick with some stone additions in the wall base, its walls covered with plaster on both sides.

The front façade follows a symmetrical, two-axial layout accentuated by the four-storey central tower with rounded corners, topped with an entablature above which rises a stepped gable made of exposed brick, its design emphasising its verticality; an identical gable is also present on the northern side of the tower. At the ground-floor level of the tower there is a portal topped with a round arch, flanked by a pair of pilasters supporting a simplified entablature. The western façade (the side façade of the church and the front façade of the convent) is asymmetrical and devoid of decorative flourishes, its windows distributed unevenly due to the differences in terms of level inside both sections of the structure. The windows also vary in terms of size, with the larger ones belonging to the church. Overall, the façade follows a ten-axial design, with the northern, six-axial section corresponding to the convent. The outermost sections of the façade are reinforced with buttresses, with the northern buttress supporting the corner of the structure. Inside, the complex is divided into two sections - the church and the monastery - interconnected by a number of passages. The interior of the church features a flat ceiling, with the side aisle ceilings being adorned with cove mouldings and stucco decorations. The pillars supporting the segmental arches of the ground-floor section and the basket-handle arches of the galleries above are situated between the nave and the aisles. The fixtures and fittings of the church include painted decorations bearing the hallmarks of both the Rococo and the Classicist style, believed to originate from ca. 1821 and redesigned in the early 20th century, as well as a variety of fittings representing numerous styles - including a Romanesque Revival main altarpiece (most likely crafted in the third quarter of the 19th century) as well as three side altarpieces. Two of them form examples of the Rococo style, while one was designed in a mixture of the Early Baroque and Mannerist styles.

The chaplain’s house is a typical rural brick residential building from the late 19th century. Designed on a roughly square floor plan, it is a single-storey structure with a basement underneath parts of its structure and a converted attic, covered with a gable roof clad with roof tiles. The structure is made of brick, its walls resting on stone foundations. Inside, the walls feature a plaster finish. The façades are simple and austere, featuring pronounced window sills. Inside, the interior follows a two-bay layout and features a number of surviving original tiled stoves.

Limited access to the historical monument. The church is open during church service. The convent and the chaplain’s house can only be viewed from the outside.

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 - 8-11-2014.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet, Zespół kościół filialny pw. św. Wawrzyńca i klasztor d. ss. Benedyktynek ob. ss. Miłosierdzia, prepared by Derkowska-Kostkowska Bogna, Bysławek 1996, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Toruń, branch office in Bydgoszcz (ul. Jezuicka 2).
  • Record sheet, Dom kapelana przy kościele filialnym pw. św. Wawrzyńca i klasztorze d. ss. Benedyktynek ob. ss. Miłosierdzia, prepared by A. Frąckiewicz, Bydgoszcz 2009, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Toruń, branch office in Bydgoszcz (ul. Jezuicka 2).
  • Karta ewidencyjna, Mury ogrodzeniowe klasztorne przy kościele filialnym pw. św. Wawrzyńca i klasztorze d. ss. Benedyktynek ob. ss. Miłosierdzia, prepared by A. Frąckiewicz, Bydgoszcz 2009, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Toruń, branch office in Bydgoszcz (ul. Jezuicka 2).
  • Record sheet, Budynek gospodarczy i mieszkalny przy kościele filialnym pw. św. Wawrzyńca i klasztorze d. ss. Benedyktynek ob. ss. Miłosierdzia, prepared by A. Frąckiewicz, Bydgoszcz 2009, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Toruń, branch office in Bydgoszcz (ul. Jezuicka 2).
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XI: Dawne województwo bydgoskie, issue 17, Tuchola i okolice, prepared by Biedrońska-Słota Beata, Konopka Irena, Warsaw 1979, pp. 2-5.

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1607 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Bysławek 59-60
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district tucholski, commune Lubiewo
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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