Kowalewo Pomorskie – St Nicholas’ Church


   The first church in Kowalewo Pomorskie (Schönsee) was probably built in the fourth quarter of the 13th century, after the town was founded in 1275. The brick, Gothic building was erected in the second quarter of the 14th century, during the period of the greatest construction activity in the villages and towns of the Teutonic Knights Order state. Perhaps its western part was extended at a slightly later stage, probably also in the fourteenth century.
At the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, the church was completely renovated and the interior transformed in the Baroque style. It received a chapel from the south and a timber turret on the west side, due to which the Gothic gable was partially destroyed. Around 1900, the top of the eastern gable was rebuilt and changed to a neo-Gothic one, and the sacristy was rebuilt.


   The church was built as a simple, very long (12.9 x 37.5 meters), aisleless building, without a chancel separated externally, but with a sacristy on the eastern side of the north wall. It was located in the north-west part of the town, at the end of the long market square, and at the same time in the line of the wall that separated Kowalewo from the Teutonic Knights castle. In the Middle Ages, the church area was surrounded by an oval perimeter of the wall, which limited the space occupied by the church cemetery.
   The walls of the church were made of large Gothic bricks. Originally, they were not supported by any buttress, but decorated with a moulded plinth and crowning cornice, and on the southern side with a row of ogival blendes and windows. The blendes were also created on the northern elevation, but without windows. There was one large, pointed window in the eastern wall, rising high into the gable part, flanked by plastered panels. The gable itself had a seven-axis structure, filled with long and narrow moulded blendes. The western gable was also divided with pointed blendes into seven axes. Apparently, it was originally supposed to have a stepped form with pinnacles at the corners of individual platforms. In the southern wall, from the side of the market, there were two ogival portals with double orders. A Gothic ogival portal with side brick shafts was also on the axis of the west gable wall and in the entrance from the nave to the sacristy. The interior was originally covered with a timber barrel, due to the high eastern window.
   Typologically, the church belonged to a group of elongated, not buttressed, aisleless buildings, with long rows of blendes and windows, although in Kowalewo their arrangement was less rigorous in arrangement and more delicate in detail. Many similar rural parish churches were built in the territory of the Teutonic Order, for which Kowalewo could be a model (eg Ostrowite, Żmijewo).

Current state

   The original spatial layout and the shape of the church were partially obliterated by the addition of an early modern tower on the west façade and a chapel on the south side. The crown of the perimeter walls with a cornice under the eaves and the upper part of the eastern gable were also renovated, and the sacristy was rebuilt. In addition, one of the southern portals is currently walled up, several buttresses were added to strengthen the walls from the north, the western gable was damaged by the construction of the tower, and the interior today has a Baroque decor. In the window recess of the eastern gable, in the lower zone, there are traces of polychrome, probably from the 16th century.

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Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler der Provinz Westpreußen, der Kreis Thorn, red. J.Heise, Danzig 1889.
Herrmann C., Mittelalterliche Architektur im Preussenland, Petersberg 2007.
Mroczko T., Architektura gotycka na ziemi chełmińskiej, Warszawa 1980.