Thursday, August 04, 2011

Fjenneslev church / Fjenneslev kirke, Alsted herred, Sorø amt.

Fjenneslev church, ab. 8 km east of Sorø

The church in Fjenneslev has a Romanesque apse, choir and nave. Above the west end of the nave were later, but still in Romanesque period, built two twin towers. The church in Fjenneslev is among our most interesting village churches. According to a reliable tradition was it built as a farm-church by Skjalm Hvide's son Asser Rig, who lived in Fjenneslev like his father. (Skjalm Hvide and his son Toke were buried in the church, but later moved to Sorø church). The wellknown legend that Asser's wife fru Inge built the towers, when she gave birth to the sons Absalon and Esbern Snare, while her husband was with the army in Sweden is not historic, partly because the two sons were not twins, partly because the bricks used for the towers were not used in Denmark as early as in the 1120s. Fru Inge might have built the towers, but earliest when Asser died, and it is more probable that they were built toward 1200.
The small original building with very high walls (nave 6,85 m) is built in small, raw, cleaved boulders with ashlars in granite and Fakse-limestone. The apse-window  is outside in the shape of a fourleaf clover , the two windows of the choir and the four east windows of the nave are original, but extended in the glade; a window in the north wall was blinded, when the towers were built, and the round arched door in recent times; the straight edged south door was remade.  The half cupolar vault of the apse and the choir arch are untouched.

The south, west and north wall of the tower-section rest upon the walls of the nave, its east wall upon three arcades, supported by two pretty granite pillars with polished shanks, palmette-decorated bases (similar the font in Kalundborg church) and cube capitals. Two groin vaults cover the two soutern bays of the tower room, and through the northernest leads a re-newed walled staircase to the second storey, which probably in the beginning was a gallery; it opens toward the nave in three arcades, each "square"-divided with three glazed, burnt-clay pillars with leaf ornament upon the capitals (familiar to a younger south portal in Sorø); only the northernest bay was kept until the restore. After a crash of the south tower were the two towers combined in 1561, and when the southern part of this tower crashed, probably in 1657, was a new tower built, which southeast corner rested upon the southern of two pillars, concluding parts of the old north tower.

The church stands now with a flat ceiling in choir and nave and a pyramid spire on the towers. It is completely marked by restorations from 1872-74 and 1898. In the first restoration were removed three cross vaults, which in the late Gothic period had been built in choir and nave, and which almost hid the pretty tower-gallery, the Romanesque windows were re-opened, the south tower re-built and like the lower equipped with south and north gables; furthermore was a medieval porch in front of the south door replaced by the present porch. In the last restoration achieved the two towers their present look with pyramid-spires, they were shaped according to the church-model on the frescoe founder-picture, which was found on the triumph wall (and like the related church in Tveje-Merløse). A chapel to the north, probably a grave-chapel for the farm Mørup in the 1500-1600s, disappeared latest in 1808.

From the valuable frescoes from 1150-1200 (restore 1947) are - besides rests above the vaults - only kept some on underside of the choir arch , two bishops, and on the west side of the triumph wall, the kings' worship from a Byzantine diagram, and under this the legendary picture of the founders of the church: the lord of the manor handing the church model up to God and his wife offering a ring behind him. It is uncertain if the figures depict Asser Rig and fru Inge or Asser's father Skjalm Hvide and wife, but it is probably the first mentioned, since the church frescoe shows the two latest built towers.

The communion table is probably the original table with an original cover plate in black-polished marble. The altar decotration is a late Gothic crucifix, ab. 1525, from Claus Berg's workshop and probably coming from Brahetrolleborg church, where the original cross is still kept. Chalice from ab. 1550 by the Køge-goldsmith Anders. Romanesque granite font in Roskilde-type. Baptismal brass bowl, given in 1779 by Joh. Henrik greve Knuth. Early Gothic choir arch crucifix 1250-75 on a contemporary cross. The simple pulpit with fluted corner-pillars in Renaissance from ab. 1590 was earlier placed as a "lektoriestol" in front of the choir arch. Bells: 1) 1589 cast by Matthias Benninck, 2) from 1614.

lektoriestol =   like a gallery.
In the church yard is a runestone. It was found in 1830, when the old dike was demolished, and it was raised in 1910. The stone is ab. 1,70 m long. The inscription is: "Sasser rejste stenen og gjorde broen". ("Sasser raised the stone and made the bridge"). In Slaglille parish is a bridge across Tuelå (river) south of Fjenneslev, called Sasserbro, probably built once by the Sasser, who's mentioned on the stone.

 Mørup manors history can be traced back to the 1500s. When Pont. Atlas III p. 78 and VI p. 321 mentions Hack Nielsen (or Hack Hacksen) and Christen Mikkelsen (+ 1609), who both are buried in the church, as owners of Mørup,  then this is hardly true. It appears from a royal letter from 1584 that Mørup at that time belonged to Sorø kloster and thus to the Crown. Reinholt Berckhus (+ 1585) earlier bailiff in Sorø kloster, was endowed with M., probably like some form of pension. He was succeeded by the king's stoker, above mentioned Christen Mikkelsen ( Reinholts widow), who had M. as a copyhold, not as owned. Hack Nielsen was probably in a similar position. A missive from 1633 says that M. was always ordained as the king's hunting farm, and that the king's servants were especially endowed with it. After Christen Mikkelsen succeeded in 1609-23 Magnus Lakaj, 1623-34 Hans Sørensen and then the king's saddle boy Rasmus Ibsen. Daniel Denov, Christian IV's livknægt( king's personal servant), who in 1644 had a letter for life on M., was probably only a copyhold farmer like the previous. He died 1666, and the life-letter was given to his second wife who still lived in 1672. The same years deeded the king M. to Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve ( + 1704), who sold it in 1678 to Frederik Gabel (+ 1708), who 1686 sold it to Niels Christoffersen  (+ 1691), from whose heirs (the son Christopher Ørnfelt Nielsen in Copenhagen and the sons-in-law, vicar of Svallerup, Jacob Fribert and manager at Sorø farm Johan Lange) it in 1695 was sold to major Frantz Christian Bonorden. He sold it on already in 1698 to Johan Haxen (+ 1704), whose widow married Niels Fogh (lived still 1710). This year was M. sold at public auction to Mads Nielsen Lind in Holbæk, who in 1711 sold it on to Otto Korff, who in 1716 sold it together with Fjenneslev church to colonel Christian Luxdorph (+ 1726). His widow Susanne Magdalene Worm left at her death in 1735 M. to her son, Bolle Willum Luxdorph (+ 1788) under whom the farm burnt down in 1743. He sold it in 1748 to Laurs Biørn, who in 1755 after having bought Gundetved (later Selchausdal) the same year sold M. to Holger Skeel (+ 1764) whose widow Regitze Sophie, née baroness Güldencrone (+ 1779) in 1772 sold M. to Eggert Christoffer greve Knuth (+ 1776),  who had it established as an entailed estate. After him it went to his son Johan Henrik greve Knuth (+ 1802), At his death went M. and the greve-title to a younger halfbrother Frederik Knuth  (+ 1818) Iin 1803 was the fideikommissariske band abandoned and M. was sold to Iver Amnitzböll (+ 1816), whose widow Dorothea Elisabeth in 1817 married Peter Diderik Ibsen (later parish priest in Kgs. Lyngby, + 1855). In 1825 was M. with farm estate sold at auction to Sorø akademi.

North of Fjenneslev church, in the northwestern corner of the church yard, were found rests of buildings, which assumedly belonged to Skjalm Hvide's farm. On this place was the largest farm in the village until the end of the 1700s, when it burnt down. After this it was relocated. The site was examined in 1826, and walls were found of a cellar room ab. 6 x 6 meter in a height of ab. 1,5 m. The material was small boulders and flint in a mortar of chalk  - only the inner of the room was in large boulders. In the western wall were two door-openings with rests of limestone-frames. The southern led up to a staircase ( it was supposedly made on the occassion of Frederik VI's visit), the northern to a smaller cellar room. The floor was in little stones         
doused in mortar. Furthermore were found rests of a strange gutter, made in burnt brick. According to the technique of the walls is the wall work contemporary to the church, but it seems too frail to have carried a stone building. Based on the examinations is it impossible to say something definitive about the age and character of the original farm-plan. Possibly are the out-digged rests only part of a large and not fortificated farm, which seems to hide under the road and west of this. The cellars have all been covered, and on the place is a small  park, where a memorial stone was raised for Asser Rig in 1903.

Names in the Middle Ages:
Kirke Fjenneslev (1201 Fialensleve, 1343 Fiænesløfflitle, ab. 1370 Fyælenzlef); Fjenneslevmagle (1347 Fiænesleffmagle); Mørup ( 1205 Møthorp).

Listed prehistorics: North of the church is Fjenneslev Bavnehøj with a passage grave, where the cover stone is missing. South of the village is a hill Stejlebanke.

Demolished or destroyed: 3 dolmens or undecided stone graves, 2 hills.

In Fjenneslev parish was born in ab. 1127 Esbern Snare, in ab. 1128 Absalon.

Source: Trap Danmark, Sorø amt, 1954. 
photo 2004: grethe bachmann

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