The urban layout and the archaeological cultural and settlement strata of the town, Rychtal
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

The urban layout and the archaeological cultural and settlement strata of the town

Rychtal

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The town of Rychtal, chartered back in 1386, was then almost completely destroyed by fire in 1782 and subsequently reconstructed in its former boundaries, preserving the original urban layout. The town features surviving cultural and settlement strata dating back to the period of its foundation as well as the original street plan, including the location of the Classicist parish church of the Martyrdom of St John the Baptist (formerly known as the church of the Beheading of St John) . Most of the buildings in town date back to the late 18th century and the first half of the 19th century, with the market square and the neighbouring streets still featuring the original cobbled surface. Rychtal is an example of a well preserved, picturesque town featuring a very structured layout that only adds to its appeal today. Much like many other settlements in the Greater Poland region, the town’s community consisted primarily of farmers.

History

The town of Rychtal was chartered back in 1386 by the erstwhile bishop of Wrocław, Teodor of Klatowa. The town formed part of the ecclesiastical estate of the bishops of Wrocław right until the year 1810. The German name of the town - Reichtal - translates literally as a wealthy, prosperous valley. The town was destroyed by devastating fires on numerous occasion, with the fire of 1782 proving the most catastrophic of them all, for once the fires died down, there was very little left of the once-thriving community. The reconstruction effort took place in years 1784-1785, with the works being supervised by one J. Geisler (Deisler), a building inspector. The town buildings mostly originate from the late 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. During the 19th century, a new town hall was also added in the middle of the market square. The parish church of the Martyrdom of St John the Baptist (formerly known as the church of the Beheading of St John) also had to be reconstructed . The walls of the previous church, completed back in 1661, were used for the purposes of erecting the new building - a necessary step since after the great fire all that was left of the original church was the chancel and the sacristy. The newly erected nave and tower were designed in the Classicist style. A well-known master brickmason Antoni Jakisch from Namysłów as well as the carpenter Hallbrodt from Syców are known to have participated in the construction works. The upper part of the tower was damaged during World War II and was subsequently rebuilt after 1945. The very last series of renovation works took place in years 1996-2000.

An Evangelical church, designed in the Gothic Revival style and dating back from the turn of the 20th century, stands alongside the road leading towards Bralin and Kępno. In 1934, the town was deprived of its municipal rights.

Description

Rychtal lies on the southern edge of the Greater Poland region, in the north-eastern part of the Silesian Lowlands, 24 kilometres away from Kępno, 14 kilometres from Namysłów. The area in which the town is located is known as the Rychtal valley. This valley is separated from the surrounding terrain by a series of hillocks and mounds known as the Byczyna Threshold, located between Bralin and Proszów. Rychtal lies 165 metres above sea level, surrounded by coppices, forests and meadows. The former town, serving as the seat of the commune authorities, has a population of about 1400. The Studnica river - the left tributary of Widawa - flows through Rychtal, its source being the nearby nature reserve known as “Studnica”; another small river - the Głuszanka - flows through the town as well, its source being located in the fields between the villages of Zbyczyna and Drożki.

The town of Rychtal was erected on a swampy, marshy land. In order to harden the surface beneath, three layers of cobblestones, soil and massive oak logs were used, supplemented by a layer of conifer and oak leaves, moss and oak nuts. Due to the properties of the surrounding terrain, the preferred type of architecture during the period was that of small-sized homes and low tenement houses. At the centre of the town lies a quadrangular market square with a town hall, dating back to the 19th century, with eight narrow streets radiating away from the square. Most of the buildings are surviving, original structures from the 18th century which serve as testimony to the bygone urban nature of Rychtal. Many of the single-storey houses were erected using hand-formed, kiln-fired bricks and feature so-called saddle roofs, constructed more than 150 years ago. The buildings located on street corners feature clipped-gable roofs. Some houses still feature distinctive entrances set into niches topped with flattened arches, flanked by a pair of smaller, semicircular niches; these buildings can be found in the western frontage of the market square. Some of the houses still feature the original wall dormers with triangular pediments (eastern frontage of the market square). The streets located in the vicinity of the market square feature rows of similar houses which are positioned close to one another. Utility buildings are often found behind the houses themselves. A notable feature of this former town are the remains of a four-lane alley lined with chestnuts, located near the contemporary Kępińska street; during the interwar period, this alley was named after Marshal Józef Piłsudski. The market square and the surrounding streets are still paved with cobblestones. The Rychtal coat of arms, dating back to the 1st half of the 19th century, painted by Otto Hupp, the author of the Book of Coats of Arms of Lower Silesia, resembles the coat of arms of the Slovakian town of Trenčin in that both feature an image of the Passover Lamb holding a flag.

The parish church of the Martyrdom of St John the Baptist (formerly known as the church of the Beheading of St John) is located to the north-east of the market square. The date of consecration of the first church that was built in Rychtal remains shrouded in mystery. The current church, erected in years 1784-1785, incorporates the Late Gothic remains of the original structure, i.e. its chancel and sacristy. The nave and tower of the church, on the other hand, show clear Classicist influences. The church is a brick building with plastered walls, oriented towards the east and following a single-nave layout. The chancel walls are supported by buttresses; the chancel itself is semi-circular in outline, with a sacristy adjoining it towards the north. Above the sacristy there is a patrons’ gallery with an adjoining turret-like annex designed to house the staircase. The nave is taller and wider than the chancel. A tower designed on a square floor plan adjoins it to the south, while another annex containing a staircase abuts the nave to the north. The walls of the nave and tower feature rather austere decorations in the form of pilasters and framing, designed in the Classicist style. Windows terminate in semi-circular arches. The western façade is adorned by a portal with two engaged columns, topped with a triangular pediment. The chancel features a gable roof, while the nave is covered with a hip roof; all roof surfaces are clad with beaver tail roof tiles. The tower is a two-storey structure with a portal adorned with a decorative surround with keystone, with an oval window positioned directly above.

The chancel features a barrel vault with lunettes, while the chancel has a two-bay groin vault. The flat ceiling of the nave is adorned with a painting executed in 1957 by two artists from Poznań, Mr Nogaj and Mr Gromadziński, who have relied on the use of limewash to achieve the desired effect. Depictions of the 14 Mysteries of the Rosary surround the central plafond. Inside the plafond, between the images of St Anne and St Joachim, the 15th Mystery is portrayed, taking the form of a scene of the Coronation of the Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth. The interior fittings of the church are designed in the Classicist style, originating mostly from the 18th and the 19th century. The church is surrounded by a plastered brick wall incorporating the sculpture of St John of Nepomuk, designed in the Baroque style. The chapels with figures of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Joseph are located nearby.

The site is accessible to visitors. The church may be explored upon prior appointment. More information about the parish and the Holy Mass schedule can be found on the website of the Kalisz diocese: www.diecezja.kalisz.pl.

compiled by Teresa Palacz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznań, 27-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Anders P., Województwo kaliskie, szkic monograficzny, Poznań 1983.
  • Rocznik Diecezji Kaliskiej - 2002, s. 168, Kalisz 2002.
  • Łęcki Wł., Wielkopolska - słownik krajoznawczy, Poznań 2002.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, Ruszczyńska T., Sławska A. (red.), t. 5, z. 7 pow. kępiński, s. 18-19, Warszawa 1958.
  • Janiszewski J. ks., Powiat kępiński z mapką powiatu na podstawie różnych źródeł, Kępno 1928.

General information

  • Type: spatial layout
  • Chronology: 1386 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Rychtal
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district kępiński, commune Rychtal
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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