Parish Church of St James, Niedźwiedzica
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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It is an example of a Gothic village church typical of Żuławy, with partially preserved interior furnishings and a tower restored in recent times.

History

Niedźwiedzica (German: Baerwalde) is a village in Żuławy characterised by a distinctive layout of streets and squares. It was established Ludolf König, Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, under Kulm law in 1342. Under the foundation charter, the church received four free fiefs. The structure was erected in the 14th century, most probably in 1350-1360 (B. Schmid dates the chancel section to 1342, the nave to 1350-1360, and the gable of the choir gallery to the later 14th c.). The post-visitation report of 1647 indicates that the church was built of brick and had a wooden tower. In 1660, during the second Swedish war, the tower was partially burned; the remaining part was supported by beams. In 1823, the half-timbered wall of the western gable underwent renovation; the roof and three buttresses were repaired; in 1854, further renovation work was carried out since the church walls were penetrated by moisture, the roof truss and supporting beams were rotten, and the wooden structure of the tower was in bad condition. In 1855, the local dyke was damaged and a flood destroyed the tower and part of the eastern gable; In the next year, the local authorities allowed to dismantle the tower. In 1858, a southern vestibule was added and a free-standing wooden bell tower was erected. In the late 19th century, the plinth of the church and arches of the western windows were partially modified; minor repairs were also made to the walls. A new brick tower was built in 1995.

Description

The church and the surrounding graveyard are located in the central part of the village, on the western side of the main road.

The Gothic church (free-standing, non-oriented) was built on the plan of an elongated rectangle, extended by a rectangular sacristy to the west, and the reconstructed square tower to the south (1995). The body of the church is simple, covered with a tall gable roof, sloping down into a mono-pitches roof covering the sacristy; to the north it terminates in a pinnacle, and to the south is a massive three-storey tower with a gable roof. The main body was built of brick laid in Gothic bond; the southern wall is made of brick (formerly half-timbered); the roofs are clad with monk-and-nun roof tiles.

The façades are made of brick (selected sections plastered), enclosed by a high plinth with brick eaves; the openings feature pointed arches. The north (front) façade is symmetrical, supported by diagonal buttresses at the corners; a blind window was positioned on the axis; the five-stepped gable is framed by ten diagonal piers and partitioned horizontally with strips of friezes; the gable features eight low pointed-arch blind windows at the base. The east façade is characterised by a discernible division into the nave and the chancel. The axis of the wall of the nave incorporates a portal flanked by two tall windows. The area above the portal shows traces of the non-existent porch. The wall of the chancel has two axes; the axes are highlighted with buttresses reaching the cornice under the eaves. The west façade of the nave is partitioned by two pilaster strips above the plinth into three parts, complemented with decorative arches with windows.

The building features aisleless interior, beamed and planked ceilings (planked ceiling over the sacristy), and wooden king post truss with queen posts. Most of the fittings of the church were entered into the relevant register of monuments in 1982; today, a large part of the historic structures is missing: Baroque pulpit, Late Gothic statue of Madonna, stalls, fragments of the main and side altars. In 1996, two separate compositions of Gothic wall paintings were discovered on a wall of the chancel.

The structure is open to visitors. Viewing of the building is only possible by arrangement with the parish office in Niedźwiedzica.

compiled by Teofila Lebiedź-Gruda, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 02-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Karta ewidencyjna (tzw. biała karta): Kościół parafialny pw. św. Jakuba, Niedźwiedzica, autor W. Chruszczyńska, 1980, w zbiorach OT NID w Gdańsku.
  • Lubocka M., Kościoły gotyckie na Żuławach (dokumentacja naukowo-historyczna), Elbląg 1976-1979, t. V, w zbiorach OT NID w Gdańsku.
  • Schmid B., Bau-und Kunstdenkmäler des Kreises Marienburg (Die Städte Neuteich und Tiegenhof und die lädlichen Ortschaften), Danzig 1919, s. 24-31.
  • Dehio-Handbuch der Kunstdenkmäler West- und Ostpreuβen, bearb. von M. Antoni, München-Berlin 1993., s. 33

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: ok. poł. XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Niedźwiedzica
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district nowodworski, commune Stegna
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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