Castle Von Dewitz, Dobra
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Castle Von Dewitz

Dobra

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One of the most formidable and beautiful late-Gothic knight’s castles in Western Pomerania, converted at the request of outstanding Pomeranian statesman Jobst von Dewitz. The authentic Renaissance plaster has been preserved on the façades; it has not been repaired since the fourth quarter of the 16th century. The castle in Dobra is also one of the first examples of modern protection of historic monuments in Pomerania.

History

The history of the caste has not been thoroughly and reliably researched and documented so far. The theses developed by authors of the history of the castle are not always proved by the surviving relics. The knight’s seat was established probably by Przybysław IV of Parchimia, owner of the local land, in the 1280s. In the documents, the earliest mentions of “castrum” in Dobra date back to 1287 and 1294. The next owner of Dobra was Beyrow of Mecklenburg and since 1308 Dobra was owned by Henryk de Dobere, also known as Heydebrecke. The then castle was located on a hill surrounded by wetlands; it had the shape of a quadrangle approximating the shape of a square with a rectangular wing projecting at the west side of the building. The courtyard was surrounded by a defensive wall (curtain wall) with an entry gate from the west. The castle was destroyed during the invasion of the Brandenburg army in 1308. In 1338, ownership of the castle was taken over by Ulrich von Dewitz. His successor Gerhard von Dewitz extended his seat at the end of the 14th century making it the most formidable knight’s castle in the Duchy of West Pomerania. According to Zbigniew Radacki, at that time the western wing was rebuilt and a new wing from the south was erected. Next, the second defensive enclosure was built with a tower in the south-eastern corner. Thus, the building consisted of the actual castle and the castle grounds; the character of the buildings is not known. The castle was surrounded by a moat. The fortress was accessed probably via a road from the town through a drawbridge, and then through the castle grounds to the main gate situated from the east.

During the war between Pomerania and Brandenburg, in 1478 Bogusław X, Duke of Pomerania together with two hundred soldiers took refuge in the castle in Dobra from the army of Albrecht Achilles, Elector of Brandenburg. In that time, equipped with modern artillery, the army of Brandenburg conquered the castles in Vierraden, Penkun, Torgelow, Löcknitz, Klempenow, Drawno, Złocieniec, Pełczyce, Wapnica, and Szadzko. After a brief cannon fire, the Pomeranians came to the conclusion that the fortress in Dobra will not meet the requirements of modern war and signed a truce.

The most important extension was made by Jobst von Dewitz, humanist and Chancellor of the Duchy of Wolgast ruled by Philip I of Pomerania, who converted the old fortress into a still clearly defensive late-Gothic residence. The external and internal defensive walls with embrasures have been preserved. According to Z. Radacki, the previously existing residential buildings were demolished to the ground. Their place was taken by a new southern and northern wing with an avant-corps next to the eastern curtain wall. At the same time, the tower also underwent modernisation. As a result of the extension, the actual castle was enlarged to two floors. The shape of the roof is unknown. The main residential wing of the castle was located at the southern end. The northern wing consisted of residential rooms (from the west) and a kitchen and brewery (from the east). The eastern avant-corps included a stable. The most magnificent southern wing was open towards the courtyard with a large semi-circularly closed recess, situated in the middle of the front façade, the brick plastered face of which was embellished with a rhombic decoration constructed of burr bricks. The asymmetrical façades of the castle wings were pierced by a row of windows varying in size and shape. These were mostly terminated by tented arches; some were placed in recesses, the pointed arched ending of which incorporated a trefoil-shaped bar tracery design. The castle featured a single-bay interior layout. Access from one storey to another was made possible by brick stairs located in the oval staircases and within the thickness of the walls. The interior of the lower storeys was covered by vaulting, while the interior of the upper storeys was covered with wood-beamed ceilings. Some of the rooms were equipped with fireplaces.

This alteration was commemorated with a memorial plaque with the coats of arms of the von Dewitz and von Arnim family, which was once located on the façade of the southern wing. The words “JOBST VA DEWICE DILLING VA ARNIM 1538” were engraved on the plaque. It is not known precisely what the buildings in the castle grounds looked like. Based on an analogy and historical reports on other castles, for example in Maciejewo, it can be assumed that the castle grounds were covered with half-timbered utility buildings varying in size.

In the fourth quarter of the 16th century the late-Gothic castle in Dobra has been slightly modernised under the influence of Renaissance. The curtain walls were demolished and the courtyard was probably covered with cobblestones. The façades were covered with textured plaster existing until today, accentuating the corners with characteristic smooth quoins, which are typical of the Renaissance buildings in Western Pomerania. The preserved traces indicate that the northern and southern wings were connected by a two-storey half-timbered building with a porch on the first floor at that time. A small number of window openings were modified. Probably in the fourth quarter of the 16th century, the interior underwent extensive modernisation and a number of representative rooms were created, including the so-called golden chamber (Goldenen Gemach), the walls of which were covered with wood panelling.

Bernd Joachim von Dewitz (1599-1645) was the last lord of the castle. During the Thirty Years’ War the northern wing was destroyed. The Brandenburg troops who were stationed in Dobra devastated the interior of the castle. According to historical records, the fittings of the chambers, furniture, doors, and even stoves were destroyed. The Thirty Years' War in the Duchy of Western Pomerania ended as a political, economic and demographic disaster. After the Griffin dynasty went extinct, their duchy was divided between Sweden and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. As a result of war, depredation and famine, many towns and villages were almost completely depopulated. The cost of the reconstruction and maintenance of the castle in these difficult times were too expensive for the von Dewitz family. The building was used only partially and was eventually abandoned forever.

In 1808, Karl Ludwig von Dewitz sold the castle and property in Dobra to Müller, clerk of the municipal court, and the Kamenberg brothers. Part of the castle was blown up later in the same year to obtain building materials. The inscription plaque with coats of arms was taken by Karl Friedrich Ludwig von Dewitz, who placed it over the front door of the newly built manor house in Mołdawin. In 1840, the castle and property were bought by Karl Julius Lübke, at whose request the Prussian heir apparent (later German Emperor Wilhelm I) spent 425 thalers to in 1859 on tidying up the ruins. In addition, 390 thalers were also collected for this purpose as contributions. In 1862, cleaning and protective works were carried out. Further conservation of the remains of the castle was conducted in 1906. As a result of the efforts of Lieutenant-General von Dienst, owner of the estate, a State grant was obtained in the amount of 1,200 marks, to which a certain amount was contributed by the von Dewitz family.

The ruins were cared for until 1945. Since the end of the war, no protective works have been carried out. Large fragments of the walls were destroyed.

Description

The castle is located on a hill on the northern edge of the town, along the road leading to Nowogard. The area around the castle hill is considerably lowered and partially waterlogged to the east, north and west. The area includes a pond and ditch. The hill has the shape of a quadrilateral approximating the shape of a square with a side of 60 m. The ruins include the remains of the actual castle and the castle grounds located at a slightly lower level. The actual castle is made up of the remains of two wings: the southern wing in the form of the northern wall and the foundations of the southern wall, and the northern wall in the form of a fragment of the northern and southern wall. The remains of the former castle grounds include fragments of the outer wall and a rectangular tower situated in the north-western corner. The walls of the buildings were built of brick laid in Monk bond and Gothic bond (northern wing), Gothic bond (southern wing), and header bond (tower). The brick walls were partly complemented by stones. The peripheral walls are built of unworked stones varying in size. The corners were made of finely worked ashlars. The tower in the north-eastern corner is built of stone in its lower sections and brick in its upper section. Sections complemented during the repairs carried out in the 19th and 20th century are visible against the background of the original sections of the castle walls. The northern façade of the southern wing features the original Renaissance plasterwork: textured plaster on the face of the wall and smooth plaster in the corners accentuated by rustication. Rhombic Late-Gothic decoration made of burr brick is exposed underneath plastering. The central part of the façade features a recess terminated by a round arch, the archivolt of which rests on a distinctly profiled late-Gothic support. The section of the façade to the east of the recess is topped with an arcade frieze. Some of the late-Gothic windows topped by tented arches have been preserved. Some of them are placed in pointed-arched recesses with trefoil tracery. Some of the windows are topped by basket-handle arches. The walls of both wings feature the relics of the former staircases, vaults and ceilings.

The structure is open to the public.

compiled by Radosław Walkiewicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Szczecin, 27-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Gerd Heinrich, Staatsdienst und Rittergut. Die Geschichte der Familie von Dewitz in Brandenburg, Mecklenburg und Pommern, Bonn, 1990
  • Radacki Zbigniew, Średniowieczne zamki Pomorza Zachodniego, Warszawa 1976
  • Wegner Ludwig, Familiengeschichte der von Dewitz, Neugard 1868
  • Karata ewidencyjna zabytku architektury i budownictwa, opr. M. Słominski, 1998, mps. w WUOZ Szczecin

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: ok. 1538 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Armii Krajowej , Dobra
  • Location: Voivodeship zachodniopomorskie, district łobeski, commune Dobra - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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