Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sjørring church/ Sjørring kirke, Hundborg herred, Thisted amt.

Sjørring church was probably built by the king, which explains its special position in the district of Thy. Its  important connection  is the big castle bank Sjørring Volde close by, one of the biggest and strangest castle banks  in Denmark  - the rests of a strong medieval royal castle. The old name "Syrændæ" is mentioned as an estate of the Crown in Valdemars Jordebog. The castle was from the 1000s - and there was probably a wooden church in Sjørring at the same time. The present Romanesque church has replaced the wooden church in the 1100s.

In about 1630 and 1666 the church was still owned by the Crown, but in April 1699 it was deeded to fru Cornelia Bickers of Vestervig. It was later owned by the family Steenstrup from 1775. In April 1918 it was transferred to freehold.

The pretty Romanesque church lies upon a hillside about 300 meters northeast of Sjørring Volde. The terrain falls down from the building from all sides. The church was one of Thy's most esteemed churches, and the names of the hills nearby, like Galgehøj and Tingbakken indicate that the Thing of Hundborg Herred was held here.

Sjørring church/wikipedia
Sjørring church is the biggest and richest decorated church in Hundborg Herred, but it is strongly marked by restorations in 1875 and 1890. The church has Romanesque apse, choir and nave, all built in pretty carved ashlars upon a superbly done double plinth. Two very pretty pillar portals were partly renewed in 1875 and 1890, but they are still the only pillar portals in Thy. At the bricked-up south door stands a magnificent portal with double free-standing columns with richly profiled bases and capitals with animal- and flower decorations. The north portal in the porch has two columns formed as wooden columns, probably meant to be copies from the original wooden church.

In the south wall of the choir is a 98cm broad priest-door with a strange lintel. The north window of the choir is the best preserved of the original windows. In the north wall of the nave are three original windows. The windows have monolith lintels. There are several ashlars on the wall with stone mason-fields, also on the walls inside. The church room has flat, beamed ceilings and whitewashed walls, the triumph wall stands with the original  pretty ashlars, side altar niches and corbels. Some Romanesque frescoes were discovered in 1890, and some in1928 but no frescoes have been restored.

About 1500 a late Gothic tower and porch were built. The tower was demolished before 1769, in which year the church was mentioned as towerless ("kullet"). The present tower was built in 1929. At the building of the new tower the rests of a spiral staircase was found. The porch is built in yellow bricks, it has a cross vault. Both tower and porch are whitewashed. The roof of the porch is tiled, the rest of the church has lead roof.

The church yard is surrounded by granite boulder dikes. In the 1870s was still a groove called Pestkulen (the plague pit), which was said to origin from the time of the Black Death. This place was avoided and not used as a burial site.

Romanesque font/gb

The altarpiece is late Renaissance from 1640 with profiled frames and a middle field flanked by Corinthic pillars, in the middle field a dark double-painting from the same time. The pulpit has biblical reliefs. It is dated 1639. The panels in the choir are the original organ-gallery from the beginning of the 1600s. The panels were placed here after the building of the tower in 1929. The Romanesque granite font is a typical Thybo-font in two parts with a slightly profiled plinth and a round-stick at the foot of the basin. A beautiful high Gothic crucifix is from about 1350.  Silver chalice from 1739 by Jens Kjeldsen Sommerfeldt in Aalborg; sygekalk (silver chalice for the sick) from 1775 by P. Knudsen Lund, Aalborg;  silver candelabres from 1608. 

Two medieval wooden figures in Sjørring church. .
The female figure is late Gothic It might origin from an earlier altarpiece. It reminds about a figure in a Gothic altar cupboard in Hillerslev church. In a photo from Danmarks Kirker from 1936 it is seen that the figures have been placed together with the crucifix in the church, as if they were Mary and John. The male figure is probably carved by another carver. It has a rougher face and very big hands, but at the same time it has been carved in order to be similar to the female figure. Maybe the female figure was used at the side of the crucifix after the reformation, and then they needed a figure of John, and a new was carved.


Bishop's Grave/gb
The Bishop's Grave.
The socalled Bishop's Grave south of the apse consists of three  granite memorials. It is one of Denmarks most potent Romanesque grave memorials, dated to the end of the 1100s. It is probably only the middle stone which lies in its original place. Upon the north prism stone is a pretty carved relief of a bishop's figure, but although it is called a bishop's grave it is proably not the burial of a bishop at all, but it is sooner a figure of Sct Nicolas of Myra.  On the opposite is another pretty stone with a high relief of an angel, while the other  prism stone has no reliefs, but by both stones stand typical gable stones with Romanesque crosses in high relief.

Several traditions are connected to this burial place. According to a legend it is the grave of an English bishop who was ship-wrecked at the west coast of Jutland. Another tradition says that bishop Mogens of Vestervig was buried here after he in vain had fought for bringing his bishopric to Thy. The third theory is that it was the first bishop of Børglum, Sølves/Silvester's grave.

Sjørring Volde left, the church right/ Google Earth

Sjørring Volde
In connection to a visit in the church it is a good idea to visit the castle bank Sjørring Volde.  From the church yard is a fine view across the magnificent landscape, which was a waterway in the Middle Ages. The royal castle bank by the lake shore was surrounded by water on all four sides and with the king's road through Thy east of the plan. The big fortification is a so-called Motte-Bailey plan, consisting of a front castle with the civil residenses, and behind double moats the fortification itself, which was a wooden tower upon a steep earth bank. The type is known already from the 1000s, shown on the Bayeux tapestry. 

Source: Danmarks Kirker Thisted amt ; Politikens bog om Danmarks Kirker, Niels Peter Stilling 2000.

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