Cemetery Chapel of St George, Gryfice
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Cemetery Chapel of St George

Gryfice

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It is a typical example of Gothic chapels with a cemetery located next to a hospital in the towns in the New March and Pomerania. As one of the few, it has survived in its original surroundings which include a nineteenth-century hospital building (located on the site formerly occupied by older buildings existing there since the Middle Ages) and a cemetery established in the 19th century as a result of extension to the small medieval cemetery.

History

The chapel was built in the late 15th century, outside the town walls next to the St George’s Hospital located near the road to Kołobrzeg. The earliest mention of the hospital, which was most probably, at that time, merged with a Hospital of the Holy Spirit, the exact location of which is unknown, dates from 1337. At the beginning of its existence, the St George’s Hospital was inhabited by lepers, then it lost its character of a leprosarium, and was used as shelter for the poor and elderly residents of Gryfice. Under the resolution of the town council of 1598, each of the two hospitals should have hold 25 inmates, providing them with housing in the so-called chambers or sheds. At that time, St George’s Hospital had 14 chambers and 11 shed. However, all inhabitants spent the nights in a large common room. The hospital was under the auspices of the town authorities, but responsibility for the supervision of the operations of the hospital lied with two inspectors after the Reformation. One of the inspectors represented the town authorities, and the second one was the first preacher of the St Mary’s Church in Gryfice. The cemetery next to the chapel and hospital existed since the Middle Ages. It was a place where the remains of dead inmates of the hospital and monastery shelter and poor residents of Gryfice were buried. Only after the cemetery next to the St Mary’s Church had been closed down, a larger cemetery for the residents of the town, with alleys and numerous trees, was established next to the chapel. Since the Middle Ages, a vicariate next to the chapel of St George was running under the auspices of the town council, and later, at the end of the 15th century, also under the care of Jacob Troye, one of the local burghers. Around 1534, the chapel was taken over by Protestants, but still it served the hospital inmates. Services of Holy Communion for the hospital inmates, which used the entrance in the northern wall of the chapel (now bricked-up), took place every six weeks in the 1860s. The chapel underwent renovation in the second half of the 19th century or early 20th century; the work involved the construction of a morgue in the basement of the chapel. In the Middle Ages, a carved figure of a saint killing a dragon was placed on the façade of the building. In the 19th century, the image was located in the interior of the chapel. Before 1945, its fittings included a few valuable items, such as a Gothic and Renaissance triptych with the Last Supper scene; the main panel of the triptych is topped with a Gothic Crucifixion group (now, the triptych is located in the Church of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Pyrzyce). Other fittings include Baroque ambo, two choir stalls, and two galleries. After 1945, the chapel was not used, and the moveable furnishings were dispersed or destroyed. In the 1960s, the chapel underwent renovation which included the adaptation for use as a cemetery chapel. At that time, the galleries and underground morgue accessible from the northern portal were demolished and the portal was bricked up. The interior underwent renovations involving laying stone floors, building steps in the apse and a post-conciliar altar.

Description

The chapel was located to the north east of the town, within a municipal cemetery between Broniszewska Street (leading to Kołobrzeg) and the bend of the Rega river. The structure is oriented (with a deviation to the south), situated on the southern edge of the cemetery, next to the wall separating it from the street. The cemetery features a quarter division and two long alleys, and is overgrown with old trees, including limes, maples, oaks and spruces. A former St George’s Hospital, extended two-storey building from the second half of the 19th century, is situated parallel to the street, north-east of the chapel.

The single-nave chapel was built on a rectangular floor plan and closed off with five sides of an irregular octagon to the east. Not too high walls of the nave body are covered with a steep tall gable roof; the apse is topped with a roof having a shape similar to a cone. The building is made of Gothic brick, using black glazed burr bricks laid in Gothic bond. The foundations were built of rough field stones. The window and door openings are topped with pointed arches. The main portal with splayed four-step reveals is located on the (western) front façade. The face of the wall and a tall gable crowning the wall is partitioned by seven pointed-arch blind windows, four of which (three on the south side and one on the north) stretch from the base of the portal arch, and one (from the south) reaches almost the ground level. The side façades of the body are pierced by small windows with stepped reveals (two to the south, one to the north) and blind windows topped with semicircular arches (except for the first blind window from the west that stretches almost to the ground level on the southern façade and is topped with a pointed arch). The northern façade features a two-stepped Gothic side portal topped with a semicircular arch, which is now bricked up. The façade of the apse is buttressed and pierced by large windows partitioned by a bar. Two blind windows topped with a segmental arch are also located under the central window. The single-space interior is covered with a wooden beamed ceiling and illuminated mainly by large windows of the apse, located in the recesses with pointed arches. A similar articulation pattern was applied to side walls, the southern of which was partitioned by two recesses, and the northern one with one recess. These partitions indicate the original intention to cover the interior with two ceiling bays. One of the sides of the apse located to the north has no windows and is partitioned by two overlapping recesses topped with a segmental arch. The adjacent section of the northern wall features a recess which has remained after bricking up an entrance; north of it is a small niche with a stone stoup, and the upper section of the wall features two niches topped with segmental arches. The side walls in the western part of the interior feature an offset which has remained after the demolition of a gallery. The western wall is petitioned by two narrow and wide recesses topped with segmental arches, which are located on both sides of the entrance. The preserved historic interior furnishings (apart from the aforementioned stoup) include two gravestones inscribed with epitaphs (gravestone of pastor Friedrich Engel (died in 1795) and his wife Eleonora née Wagner, and gravestone of captain Friedrich Vogel), located in the apse on both sides of the altar.

The structure can be viewed from the outside. Viewing of the interior is only possible by arrangement with the administration of the cemetery.

compiled by Maciej Słomiński, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Szczecin, 27-07-2015.

Bibliography

  • Berghaus H., Landbuch des Herzogthums pommern und Fürstenthums Rügen, II Th., Bd IV, Anklam-Berlin 1870, s. 617, 684
  • Lemcke H., Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler des Regierungsbezirks Stettin, Bd IV, Die Kreise Greifenberg und Kammin, Stettin 1914, s. 88-90
  • Karta ewidencyjna zabytku architektury i budownictwa, opr. M. Słomiński, 1999 r., mps w WUOZ Szczecin

General information

  • Type: chapel
  • Chronology: koniec XV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Gryfice
  • Location: Voivodeship zachodniopomorskie, district gryficki, commune Gryfice - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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