Former Evangelical church complex, Leszno
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Former Evangelical church complex

Leszno

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The complex of the church of Our Lady of Ascension in Leszno-Zaborowo bears testimony to the multicultural history of both the town and the region. It forms a well-preserved example of ecclesiastical Evangelical architecture of the late 18th/early 19th century and incorporates detailing typically present on buildings of this type. The church constitutes an example of half-timbered architecture that used to be common in Greater Poland, with both ecclesiastical and secular buildings using this design solution. This type of structure was also used for residential and utility buildings.

History

Leszno was a private town which remained in the hands of the Leszczyński noble family (of the Wieniawa coat of arms) between 1394 and 1738; later on, in years 1738-1833, the town passed on to the Sułkowski family, who also owned the nearby town of Rydzyna. In 1516, a group of refugees from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia have settled near the village of Leszczynko, fleeing religious persecution. In 1547, Leszno was granted Magdeburg rights, while in 1644, another town, located south of Leszno and known as Zaborowo, was also chartered. Much like the nearby town of Leszno, Zaborowo was also chartered for Protestants. Zaborowo enjoyed municipal rights during the period between 1644 and 1891. From 1977 onwards, Zaborowo remains a district of the town of Leszno.

In 1644, the first Lutheran (Evangelical) church was erected in Zaborowo.

In 1656, this church wast lost to the blaze, much like the nearby town of Leszno. It was reconstructed shortly thereafter, only to be burned down once again later on.

Another, third church existed in Zaborowo in years 1670-1792. This church was also destroyed by fire.

In 1796, the existing church was erected, featuring a post-and-beam structure with clay infills. The construction of this church was made possible due to the support of duke Antoni Sułkowski, the owner of both the town of Leszno, as well as the funds donated by Evangelical communities in Silesia and Greater Poland.

In 1868, the church underwent restoration, with the wattle-and-daub infills being replaced with brick ones; the date “1868” was inscribed on the southern wall of the second storey of the old tower.

In the 19th century, the Evangelical community in Zaborowo remained subordinate to the church of the Cross in Leszno.

In 1874, a chapel was built in the Evangelical cemetery (which now serves as a cemetery for the Catholic community).

In 1946, the church was taken over by the Catholics, becoming part of the parish of St Nicholas in Leszno.

From 1964 onwards, the church is known as the Church of Our Lady of Ascension.

In years 1960-1970, the church underwent renovation works.

After 2008, the old tower, which was slowly leaning to one side and could collapse at any moment, was dismantled and replaced with a new one in 2012. The walls of the church also underwent renovation works, with parts of the timber framing - the posts and the braces - being replaced. The brick infills as well as parts of the roof truss and tiles have also been replaced. Two bells - one dating back to 1865, the other to 1905 - were installed in the reconstructed tower. Before their relocation, the bells were suspended inside a wooden bell tower located east of the church.

Description

Leszno is a town with district rights, situated at the northern edge of the Leszczyńska Upland. A number of roads and railways from Poznań to Wrocław and from Kalisz to Zielona Góra lead through the town.

The complex of the former Evangelical church, currently serving as the Roman Catholic church of Our Lady of Ascension, is located in Zaborowo. A former town which has later become a district of Leszno, Zaborowo is located in the southern part thereof. Zaborowo enjoyed municipal rights during the period between 1644-1891, having originally been a settlement designed for textile workers. Both the Zaborowo Market Square and the layout of streets and quarters dating back to the times when the town received its municipal charter allow us to take glimpse into the town’s past. Other relics of the former town include the street frontages dating back to the 19th century and the early 20th century, with individual buildings being positioned close to one another and with barns and utility buildings standing behind the houses. This type of architecture was once a typical feature of those towns in Greater Poland which retained their agricultural character. The church complex in Zaborowo is historically linked to the Evangelical community which existed there from the mid-17th century. The church stands in the middle of a designated square, located to the north-west of the town’s market square. The church and the cemetery are located between Czarnoleska and Spacerowa streets. To the south, the area surrounding the church borders with residential properties, with the cemetery being located north of the church. A former chapel which has since been converted into a catechetical hall maintained by the local parish, is located on the cemetery site. The entire area is rectangular in outline, with the north-eastern corner being slightly truncated. The yard is surrounded by a wooden fence supported by brick posts. The entrance to the yard around the church is located on Czarnoleska street.

The church is a post-and-beam (half-timbered) structure oriented on the east-west axis. The timber frame features brick infills with running bond pattern. The posts are reinforced with braces, with saltires (St. Andrew’s crosses) being used for the structure of the tower. The individual parts of the timber frame are connected using wooden dowels. The outer walls feature exposed brick infills, while the interior walls are partially clad with weatherboards or covered with plaster. The church follows a single-nave, aisleless layout; it is a single-storey structure designed on an elongated rectangular floor plan. The eastern part features a sacristy with a semi-hexagonal termination. The western part of the church features a tower with a porch in the ground floor section. The body of the church is compact in shape, covered with a gable roof. The tower features a pyramid roof. Initially clad with wood shingles, the roof is now covered with beaver tail roof tiles, with sheet metal being used for the roof above the tower. The two-storey tower rises only slightly above the corps de logis of the church which it adjoins. A flag-shaped weathervane with the date 1795 is positioned atop the tower.

The symmetrical façades of the church follow a five-axis design and feature exposed timber framing. The windows in the lower row are rectangular in shape, while the ones in the upper row are topped with round arches framed by wooden brackets.

Inside, the space of the nave is partitioned by two rows of pillars supporting the galleries leading alongside the walls of the church. A choir gallery resting on two pairs of wooden posts is located in the western part of the church. The main entrance leads through the narthex on the ground floor of the tower. The pillars supporting the galleries feature chamfered corners and pear-shaped bases, with profiled braces flanking the top of each pillar. Wooden galleries feature parapets composed of series of gilt decorative panels, oval or rectangular in shape. A false barrel vault with a slightly pointed arch rises above the main nave, with beamed ceilings being used above both the galleries and the spaces beneath them.

The chapel in the cemetery features exposed brick walls and a gable roof with a steeple in the western section thereof. Inside, the chapel features a barrel vault, with a beamed ceiling being used for the space beneath the steeple. The date “1874” is inscribed in the vestibule, underneath the wall-mounted holy water font.

The site is accessible to visitors. Viewing of the building is only possible by prior arrangement. More information about the parish and the Holy Mass schedule can be found on the website of the parish and of the Poznań archdiocese at: www.archpoznan.pl.

compiled by Teresa Palacz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 30-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Łęcki Wł., Wielkopolska - słownik krajoznawczy, Poznań 2002.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, Ruszczyńska T., Sławska A. (red.), t. 5, z. 12 pow. leszczyński, s. 103-104, Warszawa 1975.
  • Świderski Br., Ilustrowany opis Leszna i ziemi leszczyńskiej, Leszno 1928 (reprint wydany na 450-lecie Leszna)
  • Werner A., Geschichte der ewangelischen Parochien in der Provinz Posen, Posen 1898.
  • Kalendarium miasta Leszna, Piwoń Aleksander (red.), Leszno 1996.
  • Piwoń Al., Kościoły Leszna, Poznań 1987,
  • Komolka M., Sierpowski St., Leszno - zarys dziejów, Poznań 1987

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1796 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Czarnoleska , Leszno
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district Leszno, commune Leszno
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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