Uniate tserkva of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, currently serving as a parish church under the same invocation, Żeszczynka
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Uniate tserkva of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, currently serving as a parish church under the same invocation

Żeszczynka

photo

The church is an exceedingly rare valuable example of preserved wooden 18th-century sacred architecture that had once been one of the hallmarks of the northern part of the Lublin region.

History

The current appearance of the church is the result of transformation and extension of a Uniate tserkva which was most likely erected back in the early 18th century, with Władysław Józef Sapieha, the voivode of Brześć Litewski and the erstwhile owner of the village, providing the necessary funds. The archival description dating back to 1726 refers to a small tserkva in Żeszczynka, with a square-plan nave, a narrower chancel and a narthex surmounted by a belfry. The church was later gradually modified until it attained the present form. First, in 1780, the bell tower was torn down and replaced by a new, free-standing one, which has survived to the present day. Later on, in 1791, the old, narrow chancel was demolished and superseded by a new one, its width equal to that of the nave, allowing the entire tserkva to be covered with a single roof adorned with a small cupola. Subsequent alterations were made following the fire which partially destroyed the chancel in 1860. In the course of renovation works, the chancel was widened, attaining the same width as the nave. As a result, the tserkva received its uniform, elongated rectangular outline containing of the following segments: the chancel and the nave as well as the narthex, the latter being separated by a transverse wall. The only annex which the tserkva had was the sacristy adjoining the north-eastern corner of the chancel. It was in this form that the tserkva became an Orthodox church in 1875, at the order of the Russian authorities. The Roman Catholic parish was reinstated in 1919, as the local Orthodox Christians left the village along with the retreating Russian armies. In the course of renovation works performed in 1948, the original wood shingle roof cladding was replaced with sheet metal; the steeple was replaced, while the interior wood panelling received a new coat of paint. Later on, during the 1970s, the wall separating the narthex and the nave was torn down, with the pipe organ gallery being relocated further towards the back, becoming an overhanging structure attached to the front wall. The inner sides of the walls were clad with plywood panels. The church was subsequently subjected to restoration works in 1998 - 2002, ensuring its continued survival. The works encompassed, among others, the replacement of foundations, sill plates, window joinery, parts of the roof truss and weatherboard cladding as well as the alteration works on the steeple, which received a new, bulbous cupola. The wooden bell tower was also covered by the restoration programme.

Description

The former Uniate tserkva (currently serving as a Roman Catholic church) is located in the middle section of the village, standing on a distant, open piece of land situated north of the local road. The church is accompanied by a wooden bell tower and a group of old trees. The tserkva is oriented towards the east; it is a wooden log structure reinforced with vertical supports, with wooden boards covering both the outer and inner sides of its walls. It was designed on an elongated rectangular floor plan, with a sacristy adjoining it to the north-east. The interior of the church follows an aisleless layout, the original partitions between the chancel, nave and narthex having been removed. The chancel is only accentuated by the slightly elevated floor. The tserkva features wooden beamed ceilings covered with wooden boards. The floors are likewise made of wood, while the roof truss is of the rafter and collar type. The roof, covered with sheet metal, features a single ridge with a steeple topped with a bulbous cupola in the middle; the section of the roof above the main body follows a three-slope design. The front façade features a triangular gable with decorative weatherboard cladding. The windows are rectangular in shape, adorned with broad surrounds; only the chancel windows are topped with semicircular arches, as is the window above the main entrance. A profiled crowning cornice runs around the entire building, along the top section of the wooden log structure. In addition, a narrow skirt roof encircles the church at the sill plate level, providing protection against the elements. The chancel features a regency-style altarpiece dating back to the first half of the 18th century, featuring a symmetrical composition with a Baroque crucifix in the middle. The church also features some other items of the period fixtures and fittings.

The wooden bell tower standing in front of the church is believed to have been constructed in 1820. It was designed on a square floor plan. The lower part of the tower is a wooden log structure clad with weatherboards, while the upper, much narrower section is a post-and-frame structure with paired, rectangular bell openings piercing every single of its four walls. The squat pyramid roof on top is supplemented by a skirt roof above the wider ground floor section; all roofs are clad with sheet metal. The decorative flourishes are limited to a crowning cornice and skirt roof above the sill plate, following the pattern set by the church.

Accessible historic building. Exploring the church interior is only possible before or after church service or by arrangement with the parish priest.

compiled by Jan Niedźwiedź, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 23-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, Vol. VIII: Województwo lubelskie, issue 18: powiat włodawski, compiled by E. Smulikowska and J. Rutkowska, Warsaw 1975, pp. 78-79.
  • Maraśkiewicz J., Semeniuk A., Drewniane budownictwo sakralne, powiat Biała Podlaska, Lublin 2001, pp. 101-102.
  • Maraśkiewicz J., Baszkow A., Drewniana architektura Północnej części Euroregionu Bug, Biała Podlaska 2006, p. 59 et seq.
  • Maraśkiewicz J. - Kościół filialny pw. Podwyższenia Krzyża Świętego w Żeszczynce, “Wiadomości konserwatorskie województwa lubelskiego” 2002, vol. 4, pp. 204-213.
  • http://www.echo.siedlce.net/index.php?p=21&arch_iid=534

General information

  • Type: tserkva
  • Chronology: początek XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Żeszczynka
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district bialski, commune Sosnówka
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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