The construction of the collegiate church was probably begun around 1120 in relation with the then existing bishopric in Kruszwica. In 1148, it was moved to Włocławek. It is also possible that the church initially had a monastic character, as mentioned in the document from 1185. Location of the church away from the castle and marketplace, recommended by the Benedictine rule, also emphasize the monastery’s original character. In 1547, a lightning struck the church tower, which was then rebuilt in brick and given its Gothic style. From the 16th century, at the central portal, there was a wooden porch, which in the 17th century was replaced with a new, bricked in the baroque style.
The period of the Polish-Swedish war of 1655-1660 caused the destruction of the church. However, the archives of the Kruszwica chapter survived, hidden in the collegiate cellar. In the years 1678 – 1679, the tower destroyed by the Swedes was rebuilt and crowned with a baroque dome. In 1730 the presbytery of the church was plastered and bleached, and the collegiate roof was covered with brick tiles. In the nineteenth century, the Prussian authorities carried out the renovation of the church in the neo-Gothic spirit. Fortunately, after the Second World War, in 1954-1956, the collegiate was reromanized. Work on restoring the medieval character of collegiate church was under the direction of prof. Jan Zachwatowicz, General Conservator of Monuments from Warsaw.
The collegiate church is made of sandstone and granite blocks, while the architectural and sculptural details are made of sandstone and granite. It is a basilica, orientated, three-aisle structure with transept. The chancel is separated, square, single-bay, ended with a semicircular apse. On both sides there are rectangular annexes, from the east closed with apses. Apses are also on the eastern wall of the transept. From the west, there was originally a two-tower facade with a matroneum in the inter-tower space. In the 16th century, the original shape of the church was distorted, by lowering the towers to a level slightly higher than those of the side naves, and on the axis of the church raising one brick tower. In the south elevation, three portals were placed: two in the southern aisle and one in the southern transept. Another portal was on the north-west side.
Although the building seems to be uniform, a few changes were made during the construction. One of the most important was the introduction of presbytery chapels. They were not provided in the original project, as indicated by the collision of roofs with apse windows at transepts. An important modification was also the reduction of the wall thickness in the transept and naves parts above the arches of the portals, which resulted in a fault at the window sills level.
Originally the nave and the chancel were covered with a timber ceiling. There are cross vaults in the ground floor of the northern tower and in inter-tower space, whereas the apses were vaulted with semidomes. The grund floor of both towers and the inter-tower part opened into the interior of the church with small, semi-circularly vaulted openings. In the upper storey there was a gallery between the towers, open by wide arcade to the nave. It was connected to the floors of both towers with small portals. It is not known what function the vaulted room in the northern tower had.
The church referred to patterns shaped in the Saxon region, especially in the area associated with the movement of the monastery reform, as indicated by its plan, restrained decoration and details of the portal columns. After the addition of the eastern annexes, the church’s shape gained the form of the so-called stepped choir, characteristic of the Hirschau’s churches (Paulinzelle, Thalbürgel).
Dzieje budownictwa w Polsce według Oskara Sosnowskiego, t. 1, Świechowski Z., Zachwatowicz J., Warszawa 1964.
Jarzewicz J., Kościoły romańskie w Polsce, Kraków 2014.
Tomaszewski A., Romańskie kościoły z emporami zachodnimi na obszarze Polski, Czech i Węgier, Wrocław 1974.
Website kolegiatakruszwica.pl, kolegiata śś Piotra i Pawła.