Koszuty – The Manor House and Park Complex, Koszuty
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Koszuty – The Manor House and Park Complex

Koszuty

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Located near Środa Wielkopolska, a manor house and park complex at Koszuty, consisting of a Baroque alcove manor house with corner extensions from the second half of the 18th century, extended in the neo-Baroque style at the turn of the 20th century, and a park complex from the first half of the 19th century, is a representative example of a noble residence of that time not only in Greater Poland, but also on the scale of the whole country, due to its tangible and intangible values.

The noble manor house is a characteristic feature of the Polish landscape, being not only a work of architecture, but in a broader context also a historical and cultural phenomenon, deeply rooted in the native tradition. From the architect’s point of view, the manor house is a one-storey country house of a landowner, smaller than a castle or palace, but at the same time larger than a peasant’s cottage. Looking through the prism of Polish tradition and culture, the manor house should be perceived as a treasure trove of landed values, such as patriotism, positivist thought or specific customs of family and social life. As Professor Tadeusz S. Jaroszewski wrote: “During the 19th century, when Poland was deprived of independent existence, the Polish court, with its classical column porch, became a national symbol and bastion of patriotism, in which Polish traditions and customs were cherished, national relics were kept and the young generations were raised in the spirit of love of the homeland”.

The first historical mentions of the existence of the village of Koszuty date from the first quarter of the 12th century. It was owned by nobles from the 13th century. From the end of the 14th century, according to the registers, Koszuty were owned by the Leszczyce family, and in the 15th or 16th century the local branch of this family began to use the name “Koszutski”. Most probably in the 16th century, this family chose Koszuty for their seat, erecting the first manor house, but there are no clear data indicating the exact date. It may have been built as early as the second half of the 16th century; however, reliable information referring to the original manor house at Koszuty come only from the documents regarding the inspections of the building from 1737 and 1740, stating the considerable extent of its deterioration and the necessity of its thorough repair. Soon after, ownership of the property was taken over by the Zabłocki family of the Łada coat of arms.

Around 1760, a Baroque manor house with corner extensions, probably located on the site of the former Koszutski family manor house, was erected for Jozef Zabłocki, starost of Trzebisław. The manor house was built on a rectangular plan, facing east, with a nine-axis facade flanked by two small uniaxial corner extensions to the west. The one-storey building is topped with a hip mansard roof covered with wood shingles. The central part of the facade was fitted with an impressive three-axial wall dormer with volutes characteristic of the Baroque period, while on the opposite side, a semi-circular, three-axial, two-storey avant-corps was placed in the centre of the west facade. Inside the manor house, in the middle part, there was a hallway, which was extended by an elliptical drawing room, and on both sides of them two large square rooms in a two-bay layout were symmetrically arranged.

Over the years, the manor house and its surroundings have changed, and the property itself remained in the possession of one family by inheritance. As late as the turn of the 19th century, the building was extended by adding two gable annexes reminiscent of its architectural form, covered with three-sided roofs. In the first quarter of the 19th century, when Koszuty was ruled by Augustyn Zabłocki and his wife Franciszka nee Sieroszewska, a park was established, which was later extended. A significant extension of the manor house took place at the beginning of the 20th century, commissioned by the then owner, Witold Kosiński. Maintained in the neo-Baroque style, it involved the enlargement of the corner extensions on the western side and the addition of new, one-axis corner extensions on the eastern side, with the form of all corner extensions being unified by covering them with spherical roofs. In the central part of the facade, a wooden veranda was erected, covered with a flattened gable roof and crowned with an openwork parapet.

In this form, the manor house and park complex remained until 1941, when its last owners, the Rekowski family of the Wantoch coat of arms, left the property. From that moment, the most difficult period in the history of the manor house lasted for nearly twenty years, first as a result of the overexploitation by the Nazis, and after 1945 connected with taking over of the property by the State Treasury and its parcelling. Until the end of the 1950s, the manor house and park complex was gradually devastated. The situation improved at the beginning of the 1960s, when after renovation the manor house was used as a primary school. Since 1966, the building has been the seat of the Museum of the Land of Środa Wielkopolska. It houses a permanent exhibition: “Small landowners’ residence in Greater Poland at the turn of the 20th century”. In recent years, the museum has carried out a number of renovation and restoration works within the manor house and park, serving the restoration of the historical appearance of the entire complex from its heyday.

The manor house at Koszuty has largely preserved the value of authenticity in terms of the shape of its body and architectural form as well as due to the preservation of its original substance, owing to which it is a reliable relic of its time. At the same time, its historical layers clearly shows the process of style transformations, constituting a combination of a Baroque noble residence from the second half of the 18th century with its extension at the turn of the 20th century in the neo-Baroque style. The original layout of the building’s interior has not been transformed, and the original furnishings have been partly preserved. The park forming an integral part of the complex has retained its original shape and composition from the first third of the 19th century. It is characterised by a varied vegetation of the ash-elm forest and a valuable tree stand, with numerous examples of oldgrowth trees from the early 20th century. The whole complex has retained the original spatial composition with high landscape and exhibition values. The value of the complex is also determined by the intangible aspect connected with its history and people who have their place in this history, such as participant of the January Uprising and Spring of Nations – Napoleon Wantoch Rekowski, veteran of national uprisings – Colonel Michał Kuszela and Witold Kosiński, grandson of General Antoni Amilkar Kosiński, participant of the Kościuszko Insurrection and co-founder of the Polish Legions in Italy. The tangible and intangible values are appropriately recorded and popularised by the Museum of the Land of Środa Wielkopolska which has its seat in the manor house and has been for years engaged in educational and cultural activities aimed at promoting patriotic attitudes and traditions and customs related to landed gentry and noble culture.

The significance of the manor house at Koszuty for the history of landed gentry architecture of the Baroque period was noticed already in the inter-war period, when in 1935 this complex was entered into the register of monuments by a ruling of the conservation authority. Significant deterioration of the historic manor house architecture of this period or its numerous alterations over time have caused that currently the manor house at Koszuty is perceived as unique due to its architectural and artistic values embedded in its historical form. It is distinguished by a very good state of preservation and proper use, referring to its original function. At the same time, the entire complex is primarily representative as a model example (archetype) of the gentry residence of the end of the First Polish Republic and the partitions period, forming the proper authentic setting for the museum exhibition depicting the history of the former residents of the manor house and familiarising visitors with the material and immaterial culture of landed gentry.

General information

  • Type: residential comlpex
  • Chronology: 2. poł. XVIII w. - pocz. XX w.
  • Form of protection: Historical Monument
  • Address: Koszuty 27
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district średzki, commune Środa Wielkopolska - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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