Evangelical church, currently: Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Wierzchowice
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Evangelical church, currently: Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Wierzchowice

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The shape and façade design of the church in Wierzchowice, having a wattle-and-daub structure, resembled those of the Court Church in Wrocław (currently: the Church of Divine Providence), built in the years 1749-1750. A particularly notable element is a high-class Rococo interior design, with its rich ornaments and religious symbolism.

History

The Evangelical parish in Wierzchowice was established on 3 May 1754 in connection with the settlement of 20 families from Württemberg, invited by Count Christian Heinrich von Reichenbach. The count also founded the Church of Friedrichs-Zion, currently the Roman Catholic Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built in the years 1769-1773 in the place of a former prayer house from 1755, which was dismantled in 1769. The cornerstone for the new temple was embedded on 29 September 1770. The foundations and the lower part of the tower was made in 1770 by a bricklayer master from Milicz - Ernst Ferdinand Klose, and the whole structure was completed on 1 July 1773. The first solemn mass was held on 21 November 1773. The works on the Rococo interior design were carried out until 1781. The church was fitted with an ambo altar (founded by the second wife of Christian Heinrich von Reichenbach) and a clock and two bells (founded by Heinrich Wilhelm von Reichenbach-Neuschloss, son of Count Christian Heinrich von Reichenbach). Church organs, consisting of the main section and a positive organ (not preserved), were made by Kristian Wilhelm Scheffler Junior from Brzeg in 1773. The decorations and church equipment and furnishings were significantly enriched in 1819 owing to the legacy of Heinrich Wilhelm von Reichenbach-Neuschloss, who died in that year. Following the heirless death of the owner of the lands, the patronage over the church was exercised by his wife’s nephew — Hans Heinrich X von Hochberg, Lord of Książ, later Duke of Pszczyna. The funds he provided were used to renovate and fit out the church in 1855 — on the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the first prayer house. The church was renovated in 1853, 1893, 1899, 1904, 1933 (which is evidenced by inscriptions in the tower attic), 1934, 1965, and 1999.

Description

The church is located in the western part of the village, founded in 1753 in connection with the establishment of a colony of settlers brought from Württemberg. The church is situated on the top of a hill, at a site previously occupied by a cemetery; originally, it terminated an avenue lines with lime trees, which formed an axis between the church and the court complex. The altar part faces the west. It is a wattle-and-daub structure, with a tower made of brick and plastered, partly embedded in the main part of the structure on the east side, crowned with an onion-shaped dome with an arcaded lantern. The aisleless church, whose floor plan has the shape of a rectangle with diagonally cut corners, is covered with a ceramic multi-pitched roof. The chancel part is communicated with a lower, rectangular sacristy extension on the west side, covered with a three-pitched roof with an elongated ridge. On the two lower storeys, the corners of the tower are framed with strips of rusticated plaster (made in 1965); on the upper storeys, they are rounded, accentuated by elongated panels and variously shaped lesenes. At the ground floor level of the tower, there is a porch, next to which there are two small storage buildings separated from the interior of the nave. The tower is crowned with cornices and the window openings are framed by elaborate surrounds; at the ground floor level, there is a portal and a triangular pediment. The church and sacristy walls have a post-and-beam structure with a brick, plastered filling. Vertical posts, woodcarved into pilasters in the giant order, are topped with Corinthian capitals. The top horizontal beams of the walls have the form of a crowning cornice. The walls have two rows of windows. Inside, in the altar part, they are divided by means of pilasters. In the nave, there are two-storeyed galleries supported by piers, with a separate founder’s loge on the north side and an organ loge on the East side. The walls, balustrades, and ceilings of the galleries are covered with Rococo woodcarved decorations, with coats of arms of the Reichenbach family embedded in cartouches and numerous symbols of the Revealed Word from the Old and New Testament. On the ceiling, there are two plafonds, depicting Ascension and the Last Judgement. Elements of the church interior, dating back to c. 1780, are in the Rococo style — an ambo altar with sculptures of prophetesses (the ambo, removed from the altar after 1965, was subsequently hung on a pier in the south gallery) and a pipe organ casing with a main section and a positive organ, embedded in the gallery sill. The present organs from the 2nd half of the 19th century, made by the Walter brothers from Góra, underwent major alterations, carried out by the Schlag & Söhne company from Świdnica, in 1905.

The historic building is accessible.

compiled by Beata Sebzda, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wroclaw, 01-09-2014

Bibliography

  • Anders J.G.E., Historische Statistik der Evangelischen Kirche in Schlesien, Breslau 1867, s. 222-224.
  • Grundman G., Der evangelische Kirchenbau in Schlesien, Frankfurt am Main 1976, s. 51, il. 78.
  • Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Warszawa 2005, s. 392-393.
  • Pokora J. Zlat M. (red.), Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce. Seria Nowa, t. 4: Województwo wrocławskie, z. 3: Milicz, Żmigród, Twardogóra i okolice, Warszawa 1997, s. 98-101.
  • Wiesenhütter A., Der evangelische Kirchbau Schlesiens von der Reformation bis zur Gegenwart, Breslau 1926, s. 24, il. 106.
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warszawa 2006, s. 927-928.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: l. 1769 - 1773
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Wierzchowice
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district milicki, commune Krośnice
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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