Former collegiate church complex of St Andrew the Apostle and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Chocz
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Former collegiate church complex of St Andrew the Apostle and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Chocz

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The former collegiate church complex comprises a church having an Early Baroque chancel and an early classicist main body, dating back to the late 18th century, and a protonotary apostolic palace, an early classicist building whose structure incorporates the remains of a 14th-century fortified manor whose construction was started by King Casimir the Great but which was never finished. According to Zofia Kębłowska, the modifications made to the collegiate church and the palace can be attributed to the same designer — most likely Ephraim Schroeger, an architect working for the primate of Ostrów, one of whose protégés was the founder of the church. The decoration of the complex in Chocz is most likely the work of the decorators of the Lewków manor. The complex, being the work of eminent artists of various eras, is an example of the accumulation of architectural features — starting from the 14th century up to the 19th century, from a fortified residential building to an ecclesiastical complex. Both buildings have a uniform, early classicist design from c. 1790.

History

The settlement of Chocz was mentioned in written records for the first time in 1294. In the Middle Ages, there was a castle in Chocz whose construction was started by King Casimir the Great. It is mentioned by the chronicler Janko of Czarnków. Chocz was probably granted municipal rights in the 15th century or maybe even in the 14th century, which can be inferred from the fact that written sources mention both a parish and a castle in that place. The Lieber benficiorum of the Gniezno archdiocese was the first to mention Chocz as a town (in a description of the archdeaconate of Kalisz in 1521). Originally royal demesne, Chocz would later become the property of the Ostroróg family and then of the Marszewski family. Wojciech Marszewski invited the Czech Brethren to Chocz. Starting from the early 17th century, the town was owned by the Mycielski family. After 1621, Chocz became the property of the Lipski family of the Grabie coat of arms, who were Catholics. They decided to banish the Czech Brethren from Chocz. Andrzej Lipski, the bishop of Łuck, founded a Reformed Franciscan monastery and the church of St Michael. In the 18th century, the town was gradually falling into decline until it lost its municipal rights in 1870. In the 19th century, Chocz became the property of the Raczyński family.

In 1629, Andrzej Lipski financed the construction of the church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. In 1632, he had the title of a collegiate church granted to it.

The chancel and the nave were constructed in the years 1629-1634. The church, designed in the Early Baroque style, was erected in the immediate vicinity of a 14th-century fortified manor situated on a mound, which was the remnant of a building started but not finished by King Casimir the Great.

Probably around the mid-18th century, a tower was added to the church.

In c. 1790, the protonotary apostolic palace was erected, its founder being Kazimierz Lipski, who was the protonotary apostolic of Chocz from 1781. The building incorporates the remains of the unfinished fortified structure (the cellars and the ground floor), which was a ruin in the 1780s. The main body of the church was also in very poor condition and had to be dismantled.

In the years 1781-1790, the church underwent major modifications. For instance, a nave and two aisles, designed in the early classicist style, were added to the Early Baroque chancel. The west aisle was built upon the eastern part of the unfinished castle.

In 1818, the Prussian government deprived the church of its collegiate status and turned it into a parish church; the protonotary apostolic palace was converted into a rectory. The church was renovated in the years 1883-1886. The rectory was renovated in 1913.

In the late 1990s, the rectory was renovated, the plaster was fixed, and the existing colours were refreshed.

Description

Chocz is a former town, currently a large gmina village, located on the right bank of the river Prosna, 11 kilometres to the north-east of Pleszew, near the road connecting Kalisz and Września. The centre of the former town, situated in its north-western part, is marked by a market square, in the vicinity of which the former collegiate church complex is located. In the southern part of the village, on the lower bank of the Prosna river, on a former islet where the castle was to be located, stands the collegiate church — the present Parish Church of St Andrew the Apostle and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary — adjoined by the former protonotary apostolic palace, currently serving as the rectory. The surrounding area is slightly elevated and surrounded by the remains of a moat; the access road is located to the north of the complex. The palace is situated in the western part of the complex, with the front facade facing the north, and the church is situated in the eastern part of the complex, with the chancel facing south.

The church is a brick building set atop a brick and stone foundation. The walls are covered with plaster. The church has a rectangular, four-bay nave and aisle section and a short, rectangular chancel. The church and the palace communicate through a sacristy having a small treasury and a gallery on the first floor and adjoining the chancel on the west side. A square tower, slightly narrower than the nave, with a porch on the ground floor level, adjoins the nave on the south side. The body of the church is cuboidal in shape. The nave and the chancel have a common gable roof. The aisles are lower and narrower than the nave and they are covered with mono-pitched roofs. The tower is a slender structure which dominates the church. It is topped with a bulbous tented roof with a steeple and a sphere (it used to be topped with a weather vane with the image of St Andrew).

The facades of the church are covered with smooth plaster, with a tall plinth slightly projecting outwards. The front facade features a three-storeyed tower with an avant-corps, having a single axis. The tower has profiled entablatures serving as horizontal partitions and pilasters at the corners. On the ground floor level, the tower is preceded by a portico with two pairs of columns, above which there is a cartouche with the Grabie coat of arms of the Lipski family. The walls of the church have massive piers topped with obelisks at the corners. The façades are divided by lesenes with horizontal plaster decoration, forming shallow rectangular panels between which the windows are located. The windows are rectangular; they have decorative surrounds with voussoirs at the top. The chancel features two-stepped buttresses with plaster decoration in the lower sections.

The church has a nave and two aisles; the chancel, terminated semi-circularly, is as wide as the nave. The chancel has a barrel vault with lunettes, resting on supporting arches. The sacristy and the treasury room have double barrel vaults and the porch has a sail vault. The central nave is covered with a false barrel vault with lunettes, supported by arches. The aisles have groin vaults. The interior of the church is adorned with lavish stucco decorations covering the supporting arches, arrises and keystones, as well as the intrados of arcades and the balustrade of the music gallery. The notable elements of the church interior include nearly free-standing stucco figures of the four Evangelists located in the arch areas of the archivolts in the nave. The interior is mostly designed in the early classicist style; the majority of its elements originate from the years 1790-1793 and were founded by Kazimierz Lipski. Most likely, they were made in artisan workshops in Greater Poland.

The former protonotary apostolic palace, currently a rectory, has walls partially made of stone, up to 140 centimeters thick (the walls of the medieval castle), and partially of brick. Built on a rectangular floor plan, the palace has a centrally-situated, rectangular avant-corps on the south wall. It communicates with the church on the east side. There is a vestibule with a staircase on the central axis. The palace is a compact structure with two storeys, a basement and a loft, covered with a mansard roof with roof tiles. On the north side, there is an avant-corps with a three-pitched roof, and on the south side, there is a small portico with two pairs of columns and a balcony.

The front façade has seven axes; in its centre, there is a three-storeyed, three-axis avant-corps featuring pairs of Ionic pilasters at the two lower levels. The tympanum is decorated with plasterwork: a pair of lions holding a cartouche with the Grabie coat of arms with a gem and the insignia of protonotaries apostolic: a mitre, a stole, and a pastoral, as well as foliage motifs. Above the cornice of the tympanum, there is a vertically ribbed vase with flames, surrounded by a laurel wreath with pieces of cloth (sculpted). The windows are also decorated with sculpted pieces of cloth, which are suspended on bosses. The architectural details of the facade include cornices, pilasters, and window surrounds, made of shaped bricks and in plaster. The rosettes, capitals, and the pediment decorations were made by applying the material to the surface and then modelling it, but also using stucco castings.

The arrangement of the basements and the rooms on the ground floor was adjusted to the layout based on a hall running in the centre. The first floor has a two-bay enfiladed layout. Inside the palace, there are barrel vaults (in the corridor connecting the palace and the church), barrel vaults with lunettes (in one of the ground floor rooms), double barrel vaults with stucco decorations, and flat beam ceilings. Some rooms are embellished with lavish stucco decorations, classicist stoves, and portraits of the Lipski family.

The site is accessible. Visiting the complex is possible by prior arrangement. More information about the parish and the Holy Mass schedule can be found on the website of the Kalisz diocese: www.diecezja.kalisz.pl.

compiled by Teresa Palacz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 4-11-2014.

Bibliography

  • Anders P., Województwo kaliskie, szkic monograficzny, Poznań 1983.
  • Rocznik Diecezji Kaliskiej 2002, s. 168, Kalisz 2002.
  • Łęcki Wł., Wielkopolska - słownik krajoznawczy, Poznań 2002.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, t. 5, z. 19: Powiat pleszewski, Warszawa 1959, s. 1-5.
  • Ostrowska-Kębłowska Z., Architektura pałacowa drugiej połowy XVIII w. w Wielkopolsce, Poznań 1959, s. 163, 192, 193.
  • Ostrowska-Kębłowska Z., Sztuka w dobie Oświecenia, [w:] Topolski J. (red.), Dzieje Wielkopolski, t. , s. 926-927, Poznań 1969.
  • Tomala J., Budownictwo obronne pow. Kaliskiego w XIV-XVIII wieku, Poznań 1995, s. 65-69.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1629-1634
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Staszica 6, Chocz
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district pleszewski, commune Chocz - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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