Church of St Martin, Żnin
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Church of St Martin

Żnin

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The church has its origins in the efforts of the archbishops of Gniezno, who had funded many similar developments in the Pałuki region; in addition, it also forms one of the few examples of a church which remained active for many centuries in the area around Żnin - a city where the archbishops had their place of residence. Despite having been modified and extended on numerous occasions throughout the ages, the church has retained its Gothic character, enriched by various Gothic and Baroque Revival influences as well as by the presence of the added tower up front.

History

The village of Góra, first mentioned in written sources in 1146, is known to have been donated to the archbishops of Gniezno during that time - hence the name “Góra Arcybiskupia”, or Archbishop’s Hill. In the early days of March of the same year, King Casimir the Great issued a document which confirmed that the village formed part of the Żnin ecclesiastical estate and remained under the ownership of the local archbishops. The village of Góra was chartered under German Law in 1396 and was only incorporated into the city of Żnin after 1963. The very first known references to the local parish of St Martin, founded by the archbishops of Gniezno, dates back to 1301. In the mid-15th century, the ecclesiastical estate of Góra was known to have been one of the most generously appointed ones. In 1596, the administration of the parish in Góra was taken over by the Dominican monks residing in Żnin. Until 1819, the proceeds from the village went to the monastery. Later on, the parish in Góra came under the administration of the local clergy once again. The very first church to be erected here was a small building with a two-bay nave and a chancel with a semi-hexagonal termination. The construction of this Gothic edifice began back in the late 13th/early 14th century. In the 17th century, the church was remodelled and is believed to have also been extended during the same period, i.e. between 1615 and 1619. Once the construction works were over, the church was consecrated in 1650.

In 1871, the upper storey of the tower was dismantled. In 1904, the church was consecrated once again. Comprehensive alteration and extension works followed in the years 1904 - 1906. During that period, the chancel was demolished, while the nave was extended by a single bay; a new, rectangular chancel with an adjoining sacristy was also erected. The tower was extended upwards, with the Gothic vaulted ceilings replaced by a flat, wooden ceiling. In 1939, the ceiling received its painted decorations, executed by Józef Oźmin. The partially destroyed tower was reconstructed during the same year, with the works culminating in the construction of a new cupola. Despite the fact that the church went through three phases of major alteration and extension works, it retains many Gothic and Gothic Revival features until this day.

Description

The church is situated in the eastern part of the city of Żnin, in the Góra district, not far away from the city limits. It is a free-standing structure, oriented towards the east, standing on a hill at the intersection of Janickiego and Pałucka streets. The church stands in the middle of a fenced churchyard with a stone gate on the southern side, surrounded by a stand of old lime trees. The rectory buildings are located east of the church.

Parts of the brick walls of the church stand on granite foundations; the brick structure is left exposed, except for the plastered window reveals and surrounds, blind windows and the frieze running below the eaves. The roofs of the nave, the sacristy, the chancel and the porch are all clad with ceramic roof tiles. The tower cupola and the steeple are clad with galvanised sheet metal. The chancel features pointed-arch windows, whereas those of the nave are topped with segmental arches.

The church was designed on an elongated rectangular floor plan, with a narrower, rectangular chancel at the eastern end. The single-nave main body of the church is rectangular in shape; it follows a three-bay layout with an organ gallery occupying its western section. A tower with a vestibule on the ground floor level is positioned on the middle axis of the church, western side thereof. The organ gallery is positioned in the western part of the nave. A side porch adjoins the southern side of the main body of the building, standing at its western edge. A rectangular sacristy adjoins the eastern and of the nave and, partially, the chancel itself. The sacristy section features a small vestibule positioned between the wall of the eastern end of the nave, the southern wall of the chancel and the northern side of the sacristy proper. A rectangular annex with narrow, slit-like windows and a single doorway adjoins the northern side of the tower and houses the staircase leading into the gallery above.

The main body of the church is covered with a gable roof; the chancel, lower and narrower than the nave, features a rectangular end section and is likewise topped with a gable roof. The walls of the four-storey tower in the western part of the church rise to the level of the roof ridge of the main body; the tower is crowned with a bulbous dome with an octagonal lantern with a series of louvred openings near the top, surmounted by a cupola which likewise features a bulbous outline. The annex adjoining the northern side of the tower is covered with a mono-pitched roof, while the porch adjoining the southern wall of the main body near the western end thereof has a tall gable roof. The sacristy adjoining the southern side of the eastern end of the nave as well as the westernmost section of the chancel is covered with a two-sided roof, one of the sections thereof being in fact an extension of the roof of the nave.

The church features exposed brick walls with plasterwork window reveals; some of the windows also feature plasterwork surrounds. The western (front) façade follows a two-axial layout, its dominant feature being the monumental, three-storey tower projecting ahead of the northern annex wall. An archivolt portal topped with a round arch is positioned in the middle of the front façade of the tower; a small window with a pointed segmental arch is positioned right above the portal. A pair of plain friezes circumscribed by two rows of projecting bricks run below and above the uppermost storey of the tower. Above the lower frieze rises a pair of segment-headed bell openings filled with wooden louvres. Each window is set into a single-stepped niche, topped with a semi-circular arch. The tower façade is topped with a smooth frieze with a plaster finish, surmounted by a pronounced, profiled cornice. On the northern side of the tower, the wall of the single-storey annex features a pair of niches topped with semi-circular arches, above which rises a triangular half-gable adjoining the body of the monumental tower. The wall of the half-gable is adorned with a trio of segment-headed blind windows rising above a smooth frieze, with the surface of both the frieze and the blind window featuring a plaster finish. The northern façade follows a five-axial layout, its eastern edge being slightly receded, forming a stepped section in the wall. The single-axial chancel wall features a pointed-arch window. The main body of the church is punctuated with segment-headed windows. The main body and the chancel are both topped with a plaster-covered frieze and a cornice running below the eaves. At the western end, the nave is adjoined by the tower, narrower than the main body; the northern side annex projects ahead of both the side of the tower and the wall of the main body of the church. The northern side of the tower is adorned with a frieze made up of irregular, rhombus-shaped recesses, positioned slightly above the cornice of the main body. The appearance of the upper section of the tower’s northern façade mirrors that of the front façade thereof. The northern wall of the annex features a single niche topped with a semi-circular arch and incorporating a pair of slit-like windows. A plain frieze runs above the niche, its surface covered with plaster. The single-axial eastern façade of the chancel is topped with a triangular gable and features a pair of pointed-arch blind windows, their surfaces covered with plaster. The gable itself is adorned with five elongated blind windows topped with segmental arches. On the southern side of the chancel lies the sacristy, its receded wall pierced with a segment-headed doorway occupying a shallow recess topped with a semi-circular arch. The nave gable, rising slightly above the chancel roof, is triangular in shape. The southern façade of the church follows a seven-axial layout and is similarly disposed to its northern counterpart; the single-storey tower is receded vis-à-vis the rest of the façade and features a small oculus with splayed reveals at the ground-floor level. Above the oculus there is a narrow window topped with a pointed segmental arch. The upper section of the tower follows the same pattern as the front façade thereof. A low porch topped with a triangular gable projects ahead of the western edge of the main body. The segment-headed door set into a shallow niche topped with a semi-circular arch is positioned on the middle axis of the porch. The two-axial sacristy wall, twice lower than the walls of the main body, features a pair of small windows, each of them positioned in the middle of a shallow, semi-circular niche. An octagonal steeple with a bulbous cupola can be seen jutting from the eastern end of the nave roof ridge.

The interior layout is arranged on the east-west axis, with the vestibule beneath the tower having a roughly square plan, its semi-circular arch opening towards the nave. The side entrance leading into the staircase is located in the northern annex, with the staircase itself facilitating access to the Baroque Revival organ gallery from the early 20th century as well as to the upper levels of the tower. The interior of the church follows a single-nave, three-bay layout, with a rood arch separating the chancel and the nave. The wooden ceiling features a board and batten cladding with a number of decorative, rectangular panels. Both the vestibule beneath the tower and the southern porch feature vaulted ceilings of the barrel type.

The monument is open to visitors. Viewing of the church is only possible by prior telephone appointment.

compiled by Mirella Korzus, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 10-12-2014 - 19-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet, Kościół parafialny pw. Św. Marcina, prepared by Derkowska Kostkowska B., 1998, Archive of the Regional Office for the Protection of Historical Monuments in Bydgoszcz; Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw
  • Aleksandrowicz Z., Inowrocław i okolice, Inowrocław 1969.
  • Rocznik Archidiecezji Gnieźnieńskiej i Poznańskiej na rok 1929. Poznań 1929, pp. 189-190.
  • Kozierowski St.: Szematyzm historyczny ustrojów parafialnych dzisiejszej archidiecezji gnieźnieńskiej, Poznań 1934, pp. 57-58.
  • Dubowski A., Zabytkowe kościoły Wielkopolski. Poznań 1956, pp. 58-59.
  • Zabytki architektury województwa bydgoskiego, Bydgoszcz 1974, p. 324.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, vol. 11, issue 21, Warsaw 1979, pp. 14-15.
  • Sikorski Cz., Zarys Dziejów Żnina. Żnin 1990, pp. 84. 94, 96.
  • Parucka K., Raczyńska-Mąkowska, Katalog zabytków województwa bydgoskiego, p. 230, Bydgoszcz 1997.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: XIII/XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Pałucka 1, Żnin
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district żniński, commune Żnin - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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