Bolków – St Hedwig’s Church


   Built around 1248-1252, the church initially had the call of Holy Cross. It was mentioned for the first time in 1298 and at that time received the call of the name of Saint Hedwig, given by the bishop of Wrocław, Thomas II. In the fourteenth century, the church was enlarged by a side aisle. In 1428, during the Hussites invasion and during the conquest of the town in 1444, the church was not burned, but the tower on which the townspeople had taken shelter was partially damaged. The Swedes made another damages in 1646, destroying the two upper storeys of the tower. It was rebuilt only in 1816, and a major restoration was carried out in 1846. Unfortunately, the Gothic gables were removed, the present hip roof was erected, and the early Gothic small windows were replaced by the present ones. Probably also then the porch was built from the north. Another renovation, giving the interior neo-Gothic features, was carried out in 1875.


   Originally, the church was a building on a Greek cross plan with a sacristy added to the chancel from the south and a four-sided tower on the south-western side. The form of the cross was made of: a nave, two arms of the transept and presbytery. Initially, the whole was covered with a high, intersecting gable roof. The length of the interior has reached 31 meters, the width of the nave is approximately 7.7 meters, and the width of the transept is 20 meters. The walls of the church were 1.5 to 1.8 meters thick. The original height of the church interior ranged from 9.7 meters in the nave to 10.2 meters in the chancel.
   The outer façades of the church were reinforced with buttresses, while inside all parts of the building, including the sacristy and the room in the grund floor of the tower were topped with cross vaults. In the nave and the chancel, its ribs were fastened with bosses of floral forms, whereas in the transept it received a decoration in the form of a figural sculpture. There is a bust of a woman with a miter, a bearded man and four male heads. Most probably, these bosses shows Princess Hedwig, her husband Henry the Bearded and their four grandchildren: Bolesław II Rogatka, Konrad I of Głogów, Henry III, and Władysław, the Salzburg Archbishop. Vault ribs also run on brackets and ancillary colums, that flow down to the floor itself. The capitals of the brackets received a large variety: from completely smooth to complexed floral motifs. One of the brackets carries a figural sculpture with three male heads, on which the artist sought to give an individual expression of the face. Of the bosses in the 14th-century northern aisle, two represent the shields of the Piasts of Jawor and Świdnica. A stone lavabo has been preserved on the southern wall of the presbytery. The entrance to the temple led through the pointed portal, enclosed by a rectangle cornice in the west façade. From the sacristy to the presbytery led a simple, pointed portal.
   In the first half of the fourteenth century, on the northern side of the church, a two-bay, vaulted aisle was added, and a passage between the transept and the room in the ground floor of the tower was pierced. In this way, the western part of the church created a kind of three-aisle hall structure. In order to strengthen the tower in its southern corner, two buttresses were erected.

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Czerner O., Rozpędowski J., Bolków i Świny, Wrocław 1960.

Grzybkowski A., Gotycka architektura murowana w Polsce, Warszawa 2016.
Pilch J, Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Warszawa 2005.