Uniate tserkva of St Nicholas in Tykocin, currently serving as the cemetery chapel of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Sokoły
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Uniate tserkva of St Nicholas in Tykocin, currently serving as the cemetery chapel of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Sokoły

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One of a group of wooden Baroque temples erected around the mid-18th century near the boundary of the Mazovia and Podlasie regions, along the lower course of the Narew river. These temples are now believed to have been constructed by a single carpentry workshop and are characterised by their distinctive, cuboid naves with an avant-corps up front as well as projecting chancels, with both the chancel and the nave being covered with a common roof topped with a steeple. Their façades are enveloped by broad, intricately profiled cornices, while their windows tend to be highly decorative in shape. The church in Sokołów is the only tserkva among these temples.

History

The building was originally erected in 1778 in Tykocin as the Uniate tserkva of St Nicholas, its owners at the time being the Basilian monks from Supraśl. In 1805, the Basilian Order was deprived of its lands in Tykocin, including the tserkva itself which, due to the precipitous decline in the number of Greek Catholic parishioners, was incorporated into the Roman Catholic parish in Tykocin in the 1820s. In 1833, the building was sold to the parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Sokoły and relocated to the local cemetery. The previous cemetery chapel in Sokoły, originally constructed back in 1818, was lost to the blaze in 1829. In 1833, a trio of new altarpieces was installed at the relocated chapel, with a wooden bell tower being erected near the cemetery entrance in 1838. The chapel underwent restoration on numerous occasions in the 19th and the 20th century, although the exact scope of the works performed remains unknown; most likely the works in question were minor repairs as well as the replacement of the ceramic roof tiles with wood shingles (early 20th century). A comprehensive renovation took place in the years 1984-1986 and involved foundation repairs, replacement of weatherboards which cover the walls of the church and the installation of sheet metal roof cladding. The most recent renovation works were conducted in the years 2010-2011 and involved the replacement of window joinery and roof cladding, with the galvanised steel sheets being replaced with copper. The steeple was also clad with copper sheets, with the necessary flashings also being added.

Description

The structure is located in the middle of the cemetery owned by the parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Sokoły; the chancel of the church faces the north.

The building was erected on a rectangular floor plan, its chancel featuring a semi-hexagonal end section. The structure features a three-storey avant-corps up front as well as a rectangular sacristy on its eastern side. Both the main body and the avant-corps are covered with a common gable roof, while the chancel and the sacristy feature three-sided roofs. A lavishly designed, highly decorative steeple can be seen jutting from the middle of the roof ridge, its sides supported by ornate volutes surmounted by ornamental urns; the entire structure is crowned with a small cupola topped with a cross. The façades are divided by a pair of cornices: a narrow cornice running directly below the windows as well as a broader, profiled one positioned beneath the eaves; the sections of the crowning cornice running across the front façade and the avant-corps support a separate skirt roof. The interior of the tserkva follows a single-nave layout. The chancel features a pair of separate sacristies, designed on a trapezium-shaped plan, with patrons’ galleries positioned directly above. The rectangular apertures of these galleries are topped with segmental arches and incorporate wooden railings supported by balusters. The eastern sacristy features a doorway which connects it to the external sacristy annex. The organ gallery positioned on the second storey of the avant-corps features a balcony with a projecting middle section, supported by a pair of columns.

The church was built of wooden logs positioned on a stone foundation; the roofs and steeple feature copper cladding. The walls are covered with vertically positioned weatherboards. The tallest, third storey of the avant-corps is topped with a triangular pediment with a rhombus-shaped arrangement of weatherboards as well as a motif of the radiant Eye of Providence in its top section. The windows of the nave are rectangular in shape and are divided into small panes. The windows of the sacristy are similar in design, albeit slightly smaller. A small, semicircular window is positioned below the triangular gable of the front avant-corps, while the rear wall of the chancel features a single oculus. The entrance doors are rectangular in shape, with some of the doors being topped with triangular arches and featuring transom lights. The doors themselves are made of wooden boards arranged in rhombus-shaped patterns. Inside, the chapel features an exposed beamed ceiling and log walls; the floor is covered with ceramic tiles.

The fixtures and fittings date back to the 1830s and include three altarpieces designed in the Late Baroque style of the vernacular variety; the main altarpiece features a pair of side doors facilitating access to the area beyond. The basket-shaped pulpit, designed in the Baroque style, is accessible from the eastern patrons’ gallery.

The historic monument can be viewed from the outside; it is opened only occasionally, for example during the church service which takes place on November 1.

compiled by Aneta Kułak, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 04-09-2014.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet, Cemetery church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Sokoły, compiled by Boruch W., 1987 , Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Białystok and the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. 9: Województwo łomżyńskie, issue: 2: Ciechanowiec, Zambrów, Wysokie Mazowieckie i okolice, Warsaw 1986, pp. 73-74.
  • Kotyńska Stetkiewicz J., Dzieje kościoła cmentarnego w Sokołach, “Biuletyn Konserwatorski Województwa Podlaskiego” 2007, issue 13, p. 111-130.
  • Sygowski P., Z zapomnianej tradycji - „surogacja tykocińska” unickiej diecezji chełmskiej (cerkwie i ich wyposażenie w pierwszej ćwierci XIX wieku, w świetle materiałów z Archiwum Państwowego w Lublinie, [in:] Eikon staroobrzędowy, Szamotuły 2008, pp. 121-178.

General information

  • Type: chapel
  • Chronology: 1778 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Sokoły
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district wysokomazowiecki, commune Sokoły
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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