Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fanefjord church/ Fanefjord kirke, Mønbo herred, Præstø amt.

Fanefjord kirke, stig bachmann nielsen,

Fanefjord church is one of the most important cultural and historical churches in Denmark. It lies upon a hillside at the island of Møn with a beautiful view to the fjord, which gave it its name, Fanefjord. The waters of the fjord are a section of a sound called Grønsund. From the church is a view across the waters

to the island of Falster - and the large church can be seen far and away at the western part of Møn. The placement of the church at an unusual   distance from the villages must be due to that the original church was built on royal initiative. The parish itself lies over 2 km from the church like the vicarage in Vollerup.

In the bay downside the church it is supposed that the war fleet of archbishop Absalon and king Valdemar  met in the 1160s before their attack on the Wends on the other side of the Baltic Sea. Valdemar built a castle tower by Fanefjord which was never proved archaeologically, but the castle site probably hides on the south side of the bay. Here was a small, but international herring market at that time. The original church served the king and the merchants before it served the local population

Fanefjord church is famous for its frescoes from the late 1400s which are the main work of the artist known as the Elmelunde-master. The large church with two naves was built in the second half of the 1200s as a successor of a royal church (probably a wooden church)  at the castle and the market place at Fanefjord.

Fanefjord church was inaugurated to Sct. Nicolaus. It has a longhouse with  a triangular eastern finish, a tower to the west and a porch to the north, all in monk bricks. The western section of the longhouse is the over 7 m high nave from an early Gothic church from ab. 1250-1300; the longwalls are squared by slender supporting columns. In the westernest bay to the north was until 1931 kept a 3,18 m high point arched window in each wall, there were only three windows in each wall, since the next westernest bay is dominated by the doors, of which the southern is bricked-up, the northern has a pointed arch. The western gable, which is hidden by the tower, has three point arched glares, the triumph arch is pointed and upon the east side of the wall are traces from an earlier choir, which like the nave seems to have had an original vault. In three of the nave's corners are small corner columns and upon the longwalls, similar to the outer bay division, are small lisens, which do not belong to the present vault.

Considering the big broadth of the nave it is probable that it was two-naved like the church in Stege. The present 2 x 4 cross vaults, which are carried by three arcade pillars dividing the nave, are from the late 1400s - and the longhouse choir from the beginning of the 1500s. Its triangular eastern finish is possibly influenced by Stege church's latest choir plan, the polygon-corners have small supporting pillars, and to the northeast is a point arched glare, to the southeast a bricked-up window and to the south a point arched, but remade door. The polygonsides are finished by a common gable with a horisontal glare decoration. Contemporary to the choir is the remade porch and the tower, which "wrong" gables (south-north) have a mighty rise and a glare system,which reminds about the one of the choir. The vaulted tower room, which opens to the nave in two point arched arcades, has to the south a point arched window. The tower stairs lie to the north. The present round arched windows of the church origin probably from a repair in 1724. The possibly late Gothic fence-wall, which follow the edge of the church hill is broken to the south by a flat round arched portal.

The Frescoes:
When you enter the church room you are overwhelmed by the rich picture bible in the vaults and on the triumph walls. The frescoes in Fanefjord are some of the most important frescoes in a Danish church. Except the frescoes in the middle of the choir arch, which are from the 1300s, the rest of the frescoes are made by the Elmelunde-Master in the late 1400s - and the paintings in Fanefjord church are his main work. His other works can be seen in other chuches on Møn, Falster and Lolland, like in Keldby and Elmelunde etc.
His characteristica is the simple humoristic description of the biblical scenes with clothes and buildings from the 1400s - and contemporary types of people. Except for the dresses his image of people are without actual personal features. Common for each and everyone, both Christ and the simplest sinner, are the large wide eyes, which give the persons a rather simple-minded appearance. His colours are warm, especially the variations of red with details in green, yellow and black. 


Gotland limestone font
Interior Freestanding communion table is built in monk bricks, the altarpiece was made in ab. 1630 by the jointer, who was also the master of the pulpit in Stege church, the original decoration was brought to light in 1934. A figure of Maria with child origins from ab. 1300, it is now in Stege museum. Late Gothic altar candelabres ab. 1550. An early Gothic baptismal font in Gotland limestone, a South German baptismal dish,  ab. 1550-75, a pulpit in same type as in Elmelunde church and probably by the same master, contemporary sounding board, a baldacin below it from 1934. Upon the northside of the nave and the choir are closed Renaissance pews  from ab. 1600, almost similar to the now destroyed pews in Keldby church, besides are some early and newer gable-planks from various pews, which now are in Stege museum. Iron bound moneyblock 1756, four money tablets. Bells: 1) cast 1495 by Olaf Kegge, 2) 1826 by J.C. and H. Gamst, Copenhagen.

Parish history:
In the parish was in the old days, according to a report of Hans Viborg in 1679, a chapel at Hårbølle, and here was a monument Pilgrimsstenen (Pilgrim Stone), formed like a coffin and with a cross upon each hollowed corner and probably also with a crucifix.

North of the ferry place in Hårbølle at Hestehaven is a rectangular castle bank or a fort, which to the south and east has rests of  surrounding moats.

North of Fanefjord lies the castle bank Borgsted which during 1. World War was reshaped ino a military site. It was until then only a flat oval rise (60x65) with traces of a surrounding moats, according to early descriptions there were towards land double moats with a bank between, a well was found and ceramic pieces from ab. 1300 and rests of a wooden bridge, which lead across the moat, but no foundations. This might have been the site of the castle Nyhus (Prince Vitslav's castle),  which was often confused with Stegeborg, it defended itself against the Norwegian fleet and Marsk Stig's attack in 1289. The castle was probably originally laid out for defense of the ferry place to Falster, and from the same reason was also the field-work, which is seen in the ferry-farm's garden . 

In Askeby is found a somewhat levelled castle bank Hovgården, which square castle bank 60x60 was once surrounded by moats  and probably also banks. Charcoal has been found, but no rests of buildings. According to the legend a "Kong Kat" lived here.

At the foot of the hill Præstebjerg was a sacred spring Blåkilden

In the border to Kokseby was a large carved granite boulder Pilgrimsstenen, probably the same as is mentioned in Hårbølle chapel above, to which was connected a legend about Truels' daughters from "Ridder Truels Borg" or "Kokseby Slot". It is certain that in Kokseby was a larger farm, and a farm in the village is still called "Slottet", where were found rests of walls etc. Fru Grethe Rebers (?) of Kokseby Slot was burnt on the stake in the 1400s.

In the parish was a village called Bredemad  in 1596, which in the 1600s was said to have 6 farms and 1 house. Besides is mentioned a village Pested in 1429.

Green Hunter's Hill detail.
Green Hunter's Hill (enlarge)
Listed prehistorics: south of Fanefjord church lies one of the largest long dolmens in Denmark Grønjægers Høj ( the Green Hunter's Hill) or Grønsalen (the Green Hall): 102 m long, 2 m high, with an almost flat surface , with 3 chambers, surrounded by 134 closely placed very large edge stones. According to tradition Dronning Phane ( Fane) and King Grøn (King Green) were buried here.  Upon Vollerup mark 2 dolmen chambers with cover stones , 13 hills most of them in the forests.

Destroyed: 4 long dolmens 6 indefinable dolmens, a passage grave and 73 hills.

In a moor east of Hårbølle were found 16 pretty flint daggers. In Hårbølle Hestehave was examined a burial place from late Bronze Age with ab. 40 graves.

Names from the Middle Ages: Fanefjord (ab. 1370 Fanæfyorth); Vindebæk (1513-33 Wynnæbæck, 1596 Windebeck); Hårbølle (1513-33 Harrebølle, 1596 Harbølle); Vollerup (1562 Vollerup); Kokseby (1429 Koxebye); Store Damme (1513-33 Damme, Dammæ); Tostenæs (1422 Tostenes, 1462 Tostnæs); Lerbæk (1596 Leerbeck); Askeby (1596 Askebye); Hovmarken (1429 Hovemark).

Source: Trap Danmark, Præstø amt, 1955

photo: grethe bachmann and stig bachmann nielsen,