Ostaszewo – St John the Baptist’s Church

History

   The church in Ostaszewo (Schöneberg), initially probably timber, was built in the first half of the 14th century. It was supposed to function at the time of the foundation of the village in 1333, carried out on the initiative of the Great Commander of the Teutonic Order, Konrad Kesselhut. At that time, four free voloks were allocated for the maintenance of the church priest, which were free from the tribute out of all 60 voloks of the entire settlement. The brick church was built a bit later, closer to the end of the fourteenth century, and the works were carried out in two phases, the first of which was started from the eastern part of the building.
   In 1409, Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen donated the parish church in “Schonenberge” to the St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gdańsk, which was to happen only after the death of the then parish priest Andreas. Despite the transfer, Jungingen reserved the church’s patronage right, and the donation was approved in 1411, after the end of the war with Poland. From the church’s income, 38 fines would go to the hospital, and the rest to the vicar presented by the hospital. All the ecclesiastical rights of the bishop of the Pomesania were to remain unchanged, and the right of patronage to the Grand Master was to be reserved.
   The end of the relationship between the church and the hospital in Gdańsk probably took place in the middle of the 16th century due to the progressive Reformation. In 1556, there was a dispute between two hospitals: the Holy Spirit and St. Elizabeth, on the one hand, and the Gdańsk shelter for children, on the other. The parish of Schönenberge was also recorded as part of the joint property, but as early as 1616 the administrators of both hospitals stated that the church in Schönenberge had not been their property since 1571. At the same time, Protestant pastors were mentioned as its clergy, although by the end of the 16th century the church and parish were Catholic again.
   In 1851, the church tower was renovated. However, already in 1857, the oak shingle roof of the spire was replaced with a slate roof. In 1859, the eastern gable was connected to the roof truss with iron, in 1866 a general renovation of the roof, plinth and windows was carried out, in 1867 the old southern porch was demolished and replaced with a new one, and in 1910 the eastern gable was repaired. In 1945, the retreating German army burnt the monument, which has been in ruins since then.

Architecture

   The church was erected on a rectangular plan with the interior dimensions of 10.9 x 24.2 meters. It was an orientated building, although without the chancel separated from the outside, an aisleless, with a tower on the west side of the width same as the nave, the base of which was built of bricks on a rectangular plan, and the upper part was timber. A sacristy with an upper floor accessible via a spiral staircase and a small chapel were attached to the northern wall of the nave, while a porch probably adjoined the southern wall.
   Apart from the annexes, the entire structure was supported by buttresses, at an angle in the eastern corners, but rather anachronistic at the tower, at right angles to the axis of the church. The eastern wall was distinguished by a beautiful, pinnacle-blende gable, divided by friezes and pilaster strips into panels covered with tracery motifs carved and painted in plaster. The sacristy was also crowned with a slightly simpler gable.
   The interior of the church, despite being buttressed, was not vaulted. Its lighting was provided by two large, pointed, splayed windows with moulded jambs, placed between the buttresses in the southern wall of the presbytery, two narrower windows more or less in the middle of the southern façade, and a large, two-light, pointed window set on the axis of the eastern wall, flanked by two blendes. The stepped, single-light, pointed window was also pierced in the western wall of the tower, just above the ogival entrance portal, the moulding of which was lowered to the height of the tower plinth. The second entrance to the building was in the center of the southern wall of the nave. The northern façade of the nave, partially covered with annexes, was devoid of windows or entrance openings.

Current state

   The ruin of the church in Ostaszewo is now an object with fully preserved perimeter walls and, unfortunately, only a fragment of the once great eastern gable. The monument is secured, but not open to the public from the inside. The porch with a small apse on the southern side of the nave is an early modern addition from the 19th century.

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bibliography:
Herrmann C., Mittelalterliche Architektur im Preussenland, Petersberg 2007.

Schmid B., Bau-und Kunstdenkmäler des Kreises Marienburg, Die Städte Neuteich und Tiegenhof und die lädlichen Ortschaften, Danzig 1919.