Residence (palace complex), Modliszewice
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Residence (palace complex)

Modliszewice

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An exceptional example of a 16th-century fortified manor house, with hardly any direct counterparts anywhere else in Poland. The building features an asymmetrical silhouette and layout, its distinctive feature being the presence of cylindrical fortified towers at the opposite corners of the structure. Today, it remains a rare example of a Renaissance residence based around an earlier, medieval concept of a moated, fortified mansion.

History

Standing on a large artificial mound surrounded by a moat filled with water, the manor house was erected in the 1590s at the initiative of Andrzej Dunin Modliszewski of the Łabędź coat of arms, who died in 1604. Based on the remnants of the Renaissance stone detailing, it is suspected that an atelier of the associates of Santi Gucci may have been involved in the construction of the building – the same atelier to which the family headstones of the members of the House of Łabędź kept at the collegiate church (currently cathedral) in Łomża are also attributed. The building’s most likely predecessor was a late medieval fortified residence which the chronicler Jan Długosz (Johannes Longinus) has at one point referred to as “exceptional”. In the 1630s, the entire manor was acquired by Jan Lipski of the Łada coat of arms, the abbot of Wąchock who would later go on to become the bishop of Chełmno and the archbishop of Gniezno. It was most likely he who commissioned the construction of the gatehouse on the Modliszewice islet, still bearing his coat of arms; the gatehouse was accessible by means of a bridge spanning the moat. The upper chamber of the gatehouse is known to have served as a venue for various music concerts. Lipski also converted the first floor of the northern tower of the manor house into a chapel. The third stage of the development of the complex is associated with the Małachowski family, who took over the manor house somewhere around the year 1730. During the second half of the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century, a utility building adjoining the gatehouse was erected, traditionally referred to as the smithy. In addition, various works were carried out inside the manor house itself, including the addition of new, brick floors. In the second half of the 19th century, the manor house is known to have already been in a state of ruin; somewhere around the year 1870, the upper storeys of the fortified towers were dismantled, as was a part of the southern façade, the terraces and a part of the stairs. The window and door openings at the ground-floor level have been bricked up. In the first half of the 20th century, the interior partition walls and vaulted ceilings were also torn down, while the wood shingle cladding on the tower roofs continued to dilapidate. The manor house on the Modliszewice islet was reduced to a convenient source of building materials for the local community. In 1940, the entire manor known as Końskie Wielkie – including Modliszewice itself – was taken over by the Germans; in 1946, the estate was nationalised for the purposes of agricultural reform. Thus the manor house complex became the property of the State Treasury, its actual tenant being the Province Centre for Agricultural Progress. In 1976, Eligia Gąssowska PhD and Professor Leszek Kajzer conducted archaeological and architectural studies of the site, allowing them to determine the chronology of the manor house as well as the individual stages of the gradual transformation of the building which had, at the time, been almost universally considered as having been erected by the bishop Jan Lipski. From the 1980s onwards, the manor house complex is being gradually restored, with some of the interior partition walls and missing sections of the façades having already been rebuilt. In years 1984-1985, the gatehouse and the so-called smithy underwent a comprehensive restoration; today, this building serves as the headquarters of the local association known as the “U Źródeł” (At The Source) Local Action Group. The manor house complex remains the property of the Świętokrzyskie province, its actual tenant being the Agricultural Counselling Centre for the Świętokrzyskie Province.

Decription

The manor house complex is situated in the eastern part of the village, standing on a large artificial mound surrounded by a moat filled with water. It consists of the manor house itself, the gatehouse which can only be reached by using a small bridge spanning the moat as well as the utility building (the so-called smithy) adjoining the gatehouse. In the middle of the islet lies a large courtyard.

The three-storey manor house with a basement underneath parts of its structure is positioned at the southern edge of the mound, its walls made of brick, split stone and field stone. Designed on a rectangular floor plan about 11 x 27 metres in size, the manor house features a pair of cylindrical fortified towers positioned at the two opposite corners thereof. This asymmetrical layout of the corner extensions is unlike anything that can be seen in other 16th-century residences, making the Modliszewice manor house a unique design on a nationwide scale. The original interior layout was likewise asymmetrical in nature. This fact would seem to suggest that the atelier responsible for the construction of the edifice remained under certain Mannerist influences. The manor house had once been graced by sumptuous stonework decorations incorporating a great variety of motifs – from the late medieval ogee arches to Renaissance lintels and Mannerist surrounds adorned with decorative bossage. Fragments of these decorations have survived to the present day. The main (northern) façade is preceded by a terrace resting on a series of arches supported by rectangular pillars, accessible by a broad flight of steps that was rebuilt in the second half of the 20th century. It is here that the main entrance is located, featuring a portal adorned with decorative bossage as well as a lintel with a carved inscription that reads, CHRISTUS REX FORTIS VENIT IN PACE ET [DEUS HO]MO FACTUS EST SI DEUS NOBISCUM QUIS CO[NTRA] NOS. Fragments of a few profiled stone window surrounds have likewise survived to the present day. The embrasures in the tower walls continue to emphasise their fortified nature.

The two-storey gatehouse, designed on a square floor plan in the northern part of the mound, was made of flat pieces of split stone. The arched gateway is framed by an impressive stone portal flanked by pilasters and obelisks and topped with a triangular pediment incorporating a cartouche adorned with the Łada coat of arms – the family crest of the bishop Jan Lipski. Another notable feature is the presence of embrasures in the portal wall base. The profiled window surrounds complete the décor of the front façade.

The utility building commonly referred to as the smithy adjoins the western side of the gatehouse. Designed on an elongated rectangular floor plan, this single-storey building features a habitable attic. Much like the gatehouse next to it, the smithy walls are made of split stone.

The building can only be viewed from the outside. The gatehouse is accessible during the business hours of the Association.

Compiled by Aleksandra Ziółkowska, 24-11-2015

Bibliography

  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture, Modliszewice, Zespól dworski, Dwór, Dawna kuźnia, Brama (Modliszewice, manor house complex, manor house, former smithy and gatehouse), prepared by O. Chojnacki, 1991, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Kielce.
  • Gąssowska E., Kajzer L., Dwór w Modliszewicach koło Końskich, “Peregrinus”, vol. 2, Kielce 1990.
  • Kajzer L., O kaflach z Modliszewic czyli o piecach elity czasów wazowskich, “Acta Universitas Lodziensis”, Folia Archaeologica, 27, Łódź 2010.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, vol. III, issue 5, Warsaw 1958.

General information

  • Type: manor house
  • Chronology: XVI w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Modliszewice
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district konecki, commune Końskie - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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