The church of St Margaret, Kościelec
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The church of St Margaret



An example of a Romanesque church forming part of a rural parish network, its single-tower westwork containing a rudimentary gallery structure.


The parish in Kościelec is believed to have been founded by duke Mieszko III the Old or the members of the Awdaniec family from Izbica, who remained the owners of the village during that period. The church itself was erected in the late 12th/early 13th century; designed as a single-nave structure, it featured a distinct chancel terminated with an apse as well a tower containing the choir gallery at its lower level. The very first local parish priests who were rec-orded in written sources were Herman and Fryderyk, who were sent to Werner von Orseln, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, in the year 1320, their task being to deliver the sum-mons for a trial which was to be held in Inowrocław. In the 14th century as well as in the early 15th century, the church may have served as the seat of the college of secular canons abiding by the Rule of Aachen, although it was only in 1488 that the church attained the status of a collegiate church at the express request of Mikołaj Kościelecki, the alderman (starosta) of Bydgoszcz, as well as of his namesake, the provost (praepositus) of Włocławek. It is believed that the Gothic redesign of the church took place during the same period. The height of the peripheral walls of both the nave and the chancel was increased, the tower was extended up-wards, while the interior of the church was now graced by a stellar vault positioned above the choir gallery. Somewhere around the year 1559, a chapel of St Barbara was added on the southern side of the nave, its design being the work of Giovanni Battista Quadro; inside the chapel, there was a double tomb of Janusz Kościelecki, the voivode of Sieradz, as well as his father, Jan, who held the title of the voivode of Łęczyca. The tomb, created at the atelier of the sculptor Giovanni Maria Mosca a.k.a. Padovano - perhaps even by the master himself - is adorned with exquisite tomb effigies; the sculptures of the dead adopt the so-called Sansovi-nian pose, named after the Italian sculptor Andrea Sansovino, which shows the deceased in a semi-recumbent pose with the torso propped up by the forearm and one of the legs bent at the knee. The church was gutted by fire during the third war between Poland and Sweden. It was reconstructed in 1688, owing to the generous donations made by Zygmunt Działyński. Until the mid-19th century, the church would periodically undergo substantial alteration works. In 1862, Franciszek Siciński from Cieślin funded the construction of the chapel of St John the Evangelist, which was erected on the northern side of the nave. The chapel, designed by Mar-ian Cybulski, contained numerous stylistic references to Quadro’s earlier work. A stone porch was later added to the chapel in 1869. It is also during that period that the sacristy adjoining the southern wall of the chancel was constructed. The funds donated by count Edward Poniński in 1894 made it possible to erect a lierne vault above the nave, with the task of su-pervision of construction works being entrusted to Henryk Nostiz-Jackowski. During the German occupation, the church was converted into a gym and warehouse, with much of its original fixtures and fittings being destroyed in the process. In 1959, Józef Glemp, who would later become the primate of Poland, took his first commun-ion here.


The church, oriented towards the east, is situated in the middle of the village, on the southern side of the road which leads towards the regional motorway no. 251. The churchyard lies in the shade of old trees, supplemented by some modern, purpose-designed plantings; a 19th-century brick wall with cruciform open sections runs alongside the north-eastern and southern boundaries of the churchyard. South of the churchyard lies an expansive landscape park sur-rounding a Late Classicist palace erected for the Poniński noble family in 1849 or thereabouts.

The church is designed on a floor plan similar in shape to the Latin cross. The chancel features a semi-circular end section, slightly narrower than the rest of the structure, resulting in a slight offset being present on each side. The two-bay nave, designed on a rectangular plan, is flanked by two chapels, both of them erected on a square plan. The tower on the western side is partially integrated with the main body of the church.

The overall silhouette of the church is complex in shape, its dominant feature being the four-storey tower. Both the chancel and the nave are of equal height. The cuboid chapels are nearly as tall as the nave itself; both of them are crowned with a decorative roof parapet (attic). The porch and the sacristy are relatively small structures, designed on a rhomboid plan. The nave, covered by a gable roof, features a triangular gable rising above the chancel on the eastern side. A Baroque steeple can be seen jutting from the roof ridge right behind the apex of the gable. The gable roof of the chancel features a semi-conical end section above the apse. The tower is crowned with an obelisk-shaped roof.

The walls of the chancel, nave and tower are constructed using granite blocks. The upper sec-tions, added at a later date, are made of brick. The walls of the chapels, on the other hand, are covered with plaster and adorned with sgraffito decorations. A pointed-arch blind window is positioned on the middle axis of the rear apse. The side walls of the chancel are pierced with a single window on each side, each of them featuring splayed reveals and topped with round arch. The window in the southern wall of the main body, positioned next to the tower, is simi-lar in shape, albeit visibly greater in size. Each of the walls of the uppermost storey of the tower is pierced with bipartite mullioned windows topped with round arches. The chapel win-dows are adorned with elaborate surrounds in the form of aediculae. The front façade of the southern chapel incorporates a portal with a doorway topped with a semi-circular arch, rela-tively austere in appearance.

Limited access to the historic building. The interiors can be explored immediately before and after church service. The building can be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Piotr Dąbrowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Toruń, 14-12-2014.


  • Chrzanowski T. Sztuka w Polsce Piastów i Jagiellonów, Warsaw 1993, pp. 33-58.
  • Kozierowski S., Szematyzm historyczny ustrojów parafialnych dzisiejszej archidiecezji gnieź-nieńskiej, Poznań 1934, pp. 90-92.
  • Skuratowicz J., Renesansowe kaplice grobowe z XVI i 1 poł. XVII w. w Wielkopolsce /in:/ Studia nad renesansem w Wielkopolsce, Poznań 1970.
  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture. The church of St Margaret, Kościelec Kujawski, prepared by A. Wysocka, 1999, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Toruń, branch office in Bydgoszcz.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: XII/XIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kościelec
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district inowrocławski, commune Pakość - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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