Former Bridgettine convent complex, Lublin
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Former Bridgettine convent complex

Lublin

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Having originally been constructed back in the first quarter of the 15th century, the Gothic church founded by king Władysław Jagiełło as a sign of gratitude for his victory in the Battle of Grunwald has been largely preserved intact despite having subsequently undergone alteration works during the second half of the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century (with the latter works encompassing the chancel); as a result, the church still retains its original, Gothic character, including the relics of Late Gothic wall paintings inside. Today, it remains continues to bear testimony to the illustrious past of the city of Lublin. The artistic value of the building is further enhanced by the presence in both the chancel of the church and in the convent of quality plasterwork decorations in the so-called “Lublin style”, created during the second quarter of the 17th century and attributed to the workshop of Jan Wolff. Another intriguing feature are the original fixtures and fittings (such as the mid-17th century choir stalls).

History

The monastic complex, originally designed for the Bridgettine monks and nuns, was erected between 1412 and sometime before 1426, followed by substantial extension works during the second quarter of the 17th century.

The church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven (otherwise known as the church of the Victorious Virgin Mary) came into being as a result of the extension of an even older chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, dating back to the period from before 1396, with the extension works taking place between 1412 and 1426. The church was erected to serve as the convent church for the Bridgettine monks and nuns. Somewhere around the year 1480, the nave was divided into two smaller, asymmetrical naves using a series of arches, with the interiors receiving their painted decorations at around the same date. In addition, a bell tower was also added to the northern side of the front façade. After 1586, the vaulted ceilings inside the main body of the church were replaced by a new groin vault, positioned slightly lower than before. It was also at that point that the gable received its current shape and form. In the 2nd quarter of the 17th century, the chancel received a new vaulted ceiling with polychromed plasterwork decorations designed in the so-called “Lublin Renaissance” style. In addition, a brick organ gallery was also built, spanning both of the naves and connected to the convent via a hallway leading above the row of chapels located on the southern side of the nave. The tower was extended upwards during the same period. The church underwent renovation works during the 18th century (when the new tower cupolas were assembled) as well as during the mid-1830s and in 1930s (when the Gothic Revival fixtures and fittings were installed). A comprehensive set of renovation works encompassing both the church itself and the basement underneath was conducted in years 2011-2013.

The Bridgettine convent was erected around the year 1426 and was initially composed of two wooden buildings, one designed for the Bridgettine nuns, the other for the Bridgettine monks; however, before the year 1600, the monks have abandoned the city of Lublin. The new, brick and stone Bridgettine convent was erected during the first quarter of the 17th century, when a total of three wings were constructed. The design is attributed to the master brickmason Jan Wolff, although this cannot be determined with any degree of certainty. The fourth wing appeared before 1660. Following the abolition of the convent in 1818, the Bridgettine nuns were allowed to remain inside their quarters for the rest of their lives, with the ownership of the buildings passing on to the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary (Visitandines) of Lublin in 1835. Later on, the Visitandines left Lublin for good in 1882, with the abandoned edifice being taken over by government institutions. In 1917, the convent was taken over by the Ursulines, who founded a boarding school for girls here. In order to make the building more fit for its new purpose, the eastern part of the convent received an additional storey (designed by the architect Bogdan Kelles-Krause) in 1924. After World War II, the building mostly served as a public school and various other public institutions. The convent buildings were finally returned to the Ursulines in the 1990s.

The water tower was constructed before 1564 as a part of the municipal waterworks system, taking the form of a fortified tower with a wicket gate and incorporated into the perimeter wall surrounding the convent gardens which was transformed into a defensive structure with embrasures in years 1632-1655. In 1655, the water tower was heavily damaged by the invading Swedish forces and was later adapted for residential purposes.

Description

The complex of the former convent with monastic gardens, surrounded by a brick perimeter wall, takes up a substantial part of the Lublin city centre. Situated along the edge of the escarpment formed by the Bystrzyca river meander, on the former Krakowskie Przedmieście street (currently the area between the Narutowicza street formerly known as the Panny Marii street, the Dolna Panny Marii street and Górna street), with the corner of the complex with the former water tower reaching all the way to Narutowicza street. The church is oriented towards the east, although it actually veers of slightly to the south-east. An irregular square is stretches ahead of the front façade of the church, positioned at an angle towards the street, and the front section of the convent which is positioned at a significant distance away from the street itself. The expansive monastic gardens are located to the south-west of the convent.

The church is a brick and limestone structure, with limestone being used for the upper storey of its tower). The walls of the church are covered with plaster. The overall design of the building is a mixture of the Gothic and Renaissance styles. Designed on a rectangular floor plan with a narrower southern nave (separated from the main nave at a later date). The elongated chancel with a semi-circular termination is positioned on the axial line of the main nave, its width equalling that of the nave itself. The three-bay main body is divided by a parition with a pointed-arch arcade. The final bays of the naves incorporate the organ gallery, supported by a low arcade and featuring an arched passage leading through the wall separating the individual naves. A broad flight of steps leads down from the organ loft to the porch below. A row of three shallow chapels supplemented by a small vestibule beneath the organ gallery adjoins the southern wall of the main body of the church; above the chapels there is a covered walkway from the organ gallery to the convent. The main body of the church features lierne vaults supported by impost cornices, while the chancel features a barrel vault with lunettes, adorned with a plasterwork lierne decoration in the so-called “Lublin Renaissance” style, enlivened by the portrayals of angels and saints in polychromed bas relief, incorporated into oval panels and plaques positioned underneath the lunette supports (winged putto heads). The tower, designed on a square floor plan, adjoins the northern wall of the main body of the church along the line of the front façade; there is also a chapel which adjoins the church at the level of the first bay thereof. A two-bay sacristy with a groin vault is positioned alongside the chancel; behind it there is an angled hallway leading along the chance wall. The front façade, flanked by corner buttresses, follows a two-axial design with large windows topped with semicircular arches and a low entrance positioned on the axis of the main nave, mirrored by an identical blind doorway on the axis of the side aisle. The stepped gable, designed in a mixture of the Gothic and Renaissance styles, is divided by lesenes flowing seamlessly into the pinnacles above, with rows of stacked blind windows topped with semicircular arches positioned between them. The façades of the tower feature decorative rustication on both the tall plinth of the tower and on the corners of the upper section thereof. The first floor level features rows of low blind windows arranged in a triforium pattern, while the frieze of the entablature at the very top of the structure is pierced by three tiny oculi with decorative surrounds. The tower is crowned with a bulbous cupola topped with an arcaded roof lantern. The façades are supported by buttresses but feature no decorative divisions whatsoever. The northern façade features a stone portal designed in the Gothic style; it is currently impassable since the doorway has been bricked up long ago. The naves and the chancel are covered with gable roofs clad with roof tiles. At the end of the roof ridge above the main body of the church rises a large steeple with an arcaded lantern on top.

The fixtures and fittings include the choir stalls from the mid-17th century, an ensemble of Gothic Revival altarpieces (1903) and relics of painted decorations displayed in the side aisle as well as in the attic.

The convent is a brick and stone building with brick vaults, designed partially as a two-storey structure (front section), while the rear (eastern) section has been extended upwards at a later stage of the convent’s existence, becoming a three-storey structure in the process. The corner of the convent building adjoins the southern wall of the chancel. The edifice was designed on a square floor plan with a garth in the centre. A three-storey building of the nearby school complex adjoins the convent towards the east. The school was erected at a much later day than the convent itself, having been transformed from a single-storey covered walkway which led to the former latrines. The layout of three wings of the former convent features a hallway leading alongside the garth; only in the western wing does the hallway lead alongside the outer yard instead, preceded by a two-storey annex incorporating the entrance to the convent proper, with a vestibule positioned ahead of the main doorway. The annex is flanked by a pair of lower, slightly receded side annexes. The first floor features a different layout, with rooms being positioned alongside a central hallway. All of the rooms on the ground floor level feature vaulted ceilings, with groin vault being used for the hallways, while the rooms in the western wing feature barrel vaults. All the other wings also have barrel vaults, although their structure is easily distinguished from those in the western wing due to the presence of lunettes. The former refectory in the southern wing follows a four-bay layout, with the vaulted ceiling being supported by a central pillar. The vaults are of the groin type and are divided by structural arches. The room next to the refectory features a sail vault with lunettes. Both rooms feature late Renaissance stuccowork in the Lublin style, with decorative plaques. The convent vestibule and the annexes all feature groin vaults.

The façades of the convent are supported by broad buttresses in a few places, with a string course running beneath the third storey level. The front section of the convent features a gable roof, while the sections which have been extended upwards at a later stage feature multi-pitched roofs. The two-storey section incorporating the vestibule leading into the convent features a gable roof, with shed roofs used for the side annexes. The front part of the entrance section features an arched entrance positioned on the central axis thereof, with a pair of arched windows flanking a semi-domical niche with a figure of the Virgin Mary on the first floor level.

The perimeter wall is made of brick and stone; sections of the wall which have survived are located on the escarpment side (south-east) as well as on the southern and north-western side of the convent, the latter featuring a number of bricked-up embrasures.

The walls of the remnants of the water tower are made of limestone, with missing sections filled in with brick. Fragments of the plaster which had covered the walls can still be seen on the surface. The tower was designed on an almost square floor plan, with an annex added at a later date; today, only the ground floor level remains, covered by a shared mono-pitched roof clad with sheet metal.

The church may be explored from Tuesday to Friday between 12 PM and 5 PM. It may also be visited on Saturdays upon prior appointment by telephone.

compiled by Roman Zwierzchowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 17-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Michoński M, Kościół i klasztor pobrygidkowski w Lublinie, oprac., mps, PP PKZ o/Lublin 1984, Biblioteka Wojewódzkiego Urzędu Ochrony Zabytków w Lublinie
  • Record sheet, former Bridgettine convent, Lublin, compiled by J. Studziński, G. Michalska (drawings), 1997, Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw
  • M. Kurzej, Jan Wolff. Monografia architekta w świetle analizy prefabrykowanych elementów dekoracji sztukatorskich, Cracow 2009
  • Niedźwiadek R., Kościół pobrygidkowski pw. Wniebowzięcia Najświętszej Marii Panny Zwycięskiej w Lublinie, [in:] Kościoły i klasztory Lublina w świetle badań archeologicznych, E. Banasiewicz-Szykuła (ed.), collective work, Lublin 2012, pp. 46-73
  • Rev. Wadowski A., Kościoły lubelskie, Cracow 1907 (reprint: Lublin 2004), pp. 497-410

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1412-1426
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Narutowicza 6-10, Lublin
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district Lublin, commune Lublin
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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