Namysłów – St Peter and Paul Church

History

   The first mention of the wooden church of St. Peter and Paul comes from 1278. At that time, the parson was the priest Dietriech, and the patronage over the church was held by the city council. At the end of the first half of the fourteenth century, a new nave was erected, using the perimeter walls of the older basilica, which was built in the thirties of the thirteenth century. In the 1370s, vaults were established in the completed building, while at the beginning of the 15th century the demolition of the old chancel and construction of a new one in its place began. These works started in 1401 or in 1405 after the tower renovation, then recorded. The church was completed in 1441.
   During a fire in 1483, the building was partially destroyed. Initially, it was provisionally rebuilt, thanks to which it could be consecrated again in 1485, but further expansion continued until the beginning of the 16th century. In 1495 the vaults in the nave were supplemented, and in 1526 the date was placed on the sacristy portal, probably related to the moment of completion of the works.
   In 1525, as a result of the Reformation, the church was taken over by Evangelicals, who a year later added the sacristy. In 1655 the building again passed into the hands of Catholics. In the 17th-19th century, the church was repeatedly renovated and renewed (among others, a southern porch and a portal to the tower were erected at that time).

Architecture

   The church was built in the north-eastern part of the town, east of the market, close to the city’s defensive walls. At the end of the Middle Ages, it received the form of a three-aisle hall building, with three-side ended aisles from the east. The total length of the church (without polygonal parts) was 47.2 meters, while the height was 14.5 meters. The central aisle, 7.2 meters wide, received the same height as the 4.2-meter wide side aisles. The presbytery was not separated from the outer body of the church. In the northern part there was a three-bay sacristy and three chapels between buttresses. On the west side, there was a four-sided, four-storey tower dating back to the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries (later raised above the ridge of the roof), with elevations fastened with buttresses and decorated with blendes was placed on the west side, originally crowned with decorative battlement. Four chapels were built from the south side of the church, two on the west side were higher than the others, similar in height to the nave.
   Outside, the church was surrounded with buttresses, between which ogival, mostly three-light windows with brick shafts, were pierced, without tracery in the nave and with stone tracery in the presbytery. Only in the narrow eastern walls of the closures had two-light windows. Above the windows there was a frieze made of bricks arranged diagonally, and above them a horizontal plastered blende and cornice.
   The nave received a three-aisle, hall arrangement with an uneven number of bays, because in the central aisle three almost square bays were made with two pairs of pillars, while the external walls were divided into four bays. Most probably it was the intended composition, not the layout resulting from the adaptation to the earlier building, from which the division into four bays remained. The presbytery received a similar division into bays and height as in the western part.
   Inside, the central aisle was covered with a four-pointed stellar vault, while on the aisles there were five-supporting vaults in the central bays and appropriately modified vaults in the extreme bays. The chapels were crowned with cross-rib vaults, net and three-support vaults, while the sacristy was crowned with a rib vault. The central aisle bosses include, among others Christ’s head, St. John the Baptist, the Silesian eagle, or a shield with a lion. The corbels were also given various forms, e.g. in the shape of delicate floral decorations, masks or human heads, and even entire persons. In the aisles, the ribs were not supported by corbels, but penetrate the wall, cut with a horizontal line.
   Pillars supporting the vaults in the western part received a rectangular form with bevelled corners, with pilaster strips. The pillars did not receive bases or capitals there, they were finished with horizontal plane, on which arcades with three profiled stepps were based. In the eastern part, the pillars were placed on pedestals, with profiled corners composed of shafts and concaves. The central aisle was opened to the side aisles with ogival arcades, and similar arcades separated the aisles from the chapels. The three arcades also separated the eastern part of the church from the west side, resting on pillars of greater length than the others, as made up of halves of presbytery pillars and halves of nave pillars.

Current state

   To this day, the church has retained the form of a Gothic hall, erected with the use of the walls of an older thirteenth-century basilica, and enlarged by the eastern part and chapels at the end of the Middle Ages. Early modern changes include, first of all, the tower’s helmet, the southern porch at the presbytery, or the portal leading to the tower. Unfortunately, the main gothic entrance portal to the church has not been preserved, only modest portals leading to the sacristy and the southern chapel have remained. The layout of the roofs of the southern chapels also changed, and they lost their gothic gables during the transformations.

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bibliography:
Kozaczewska-Golasz H., Halowe kościoły z XIV wieku na Śląsku, Wrocław 2013.
Kozaczewska-Golasz H., Halowe kościoły z wieku XV i pierwszej połowy XVI na Śląsku, Wrocław 2018.

Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Górnego Śląska, Warszawa 2008.