Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mariager Abbey /Mariager Klosterkirke , Mariagerfjord Kommune

Mariager klosterkirke, Mariagerfjord Kommune, Region Nordjylland


Mariager Abbey  (Danish: Mariager Klosterkirke) was a Bridgettine abbey founded in 1430 which became an important pilgrimage site, in the present town of Mariager in northern central Jutland. The abbey was established in the rule of king Erik of Pommern in the period 1425-1432. The real founding year is regarded as 1446, where Pope Eugenius 4. confirmed a transfer of the two earlier Bridgettine abbeys in Glenstrup and Randers to the Bridgettines in Maribo. .

In the abbeys of the Bridgettines lived both monks and nuns, but in separated buildings on each side of the church. The nunnery consisted probably of 3 wings which formed a closed yard, where the church was the south wing. The monastery were several buildings south of the church and the north wing as an addition. Preserved till present is the church and the north wing of the monastery, while the other buildings were demolished once in the 1700s and the beginning of the 1800s.

Mariager abbey, (Mariager Klosterkirke) lies in the town Mariager by the beautiful Mariager fjord
Like in Maribo at Lolland a small town grew up around the abbey, but Mariager is still one of the smallest market towns in Denmark.

The abbey in Mariager was built as a three-naved church with a characteristic stepped east gable and a later added slende tower to the west. The reformation meant the final days of the abbey, although it was first abolished as late as 1588. The large church became the parish church of Mariager town - and during the next 200 years there were financial problems about maintaining the large building. The town management gave up in 1788, and the church was rebuilt in 1788-1789. The drastic rebuild was a demolition of the four eastern sections, including the choir, while the rest was rebuilt from a three-naved church into a cross-armed church, supported by outside pillars. At the cross arm was in the 1930s rebuilt a longhouse choir

Frescoe on the north wall of the choir is a fragment of a freso from the first building period,. a magnificent descriptions of persons, artistically some of the best frescoes from the 1400s. Upon a pillar in northern cross arm is a strange image, meant to show a coat of arms of Thor Degn from the 1200s, but it was obviously painted much later.

In the tower room are two famous procession- figures, the wooden sculopturres are realistic but also typical for the period ab 1500s. The figures are concentrated about Christ and his suffering and death.

The Renaissance pulpit is a simple work ab 1720s, the decoration is from 1724. The altarpiece is a fine Baroque woodcarving  from 1690. In the big field is the big supper which is the main motif with the crucified Christ above, surrounded by the nearest , Maria, Johannes and the apostles in woodcarved free-standing figures.

Upon the south wall of the nave hangs a large late Gothic crucifix . The baptismal font is in wood from the middle of the 1700s and given to the church by its benefactor etatsråd Matthias de Thestrup (+ 1769), whose burial chapel was abolished in 1931. From earlier burial chapels were Holger Eriksen Rosenkrantz from 1495, which was abolished in the 1560s when Jørgen Rosenkrantz of Rosenholm collected the bodies of his late forefathers in Hornslet kirke. Also the family Løvenbalk from the manors Tjele and Aunsbjerg had built and owned a burial chapel by the church.

by the kloster lake
The most famous headstone in Mariager belongs to the last Catholic Børglum bishop, the excessive Stygge Krumpen, who died in Asmild kloster in 1551,  a magnificent portrait stone celebrateds his memory,but he is not buried under the stone, his mummified body was shown to the public until 1871- 1873 in an open coffin, but common good manners demanded that the body was moved to the burial chapel of the noble family Krumpen. The bodies from this chapel were in 1931 buried in the church yard.

On the big church yard are kept pieces of pillars and some debris of graves from the abbey period. The church yard was extended in 1894 and is marked by the civil grave memorials of the market town Mariager. 

by the klosterlake.

Source: Danmarks kirker, Niels Peter Stilling, 2000; Nordens kirker ; National Museum; 

 photo: grethe bachmann

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hammer church /Hammer kirke, Hedensted Kommune.

Hammer kirke, Hedensted kommune, 20 km west of Horsens foto gb

Hammer church was mentioned in a document for the first time in 1457. The church lies in an open terrain, which slopes from north and west down to the river Gudenaa, which is a part of the border in the small parish. Hammer church is a small church without a tower, the orientation is not east-west like most other churches and it is not a village church. It lies very desolated and nothing indicates that there was ever a village here. It is most likely that it was built by a local magnate. The history of Hammer church is connected to a nearby, earlier main farm Hammergård, which lies  1/2 km east of the church. .
The church was probably built in the late 1100s. It was consecrated to Maria Magdalena and belonged to the Århus bishop during the Middle Ages. At the reformation it was like most other churches taken over by the Crown, which entrusted the income to the parish at the Chapter of Århus. Latest in 1553 Hammer church became annex to Linnerup church

During the Swedish wars in the 1600s there were plunders by the foeign troups (both enemies and allied)  all over Jutland. The parish of Hammer suffered much under this and many farms were destroyed. When Århus Chapter was closed in 1666 the Crown took over the church once more until 1745, where it was transferred to the nearby farm Hammergård. The owner of Hammergård announced in 1809 that the church was now taken over by the parish. In 1908 the church became formally freehold, and in 1911 it became annex to Tørring church as it is today. After this the parish belonged to Haderslev stift since 1971 (.Hedensted Kommune)

The original church is built in travertine with a cernel of field stone. Later were probably in 1400s used monk bricks for a thorough restore. Once in the 1700s was built a thatched porch, but it was replaced in 1867, and the present porch was built. There was possibly earlier a burial chapel on the northside of the choir. The roof is red tiles, earlier it was a lead roof.  The wooden ceiling in the choir was inserted in 1862 after the earlier late medieval vault was ready to be destrcuted. The triumph arch was probably extended when the vault was built.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fjelsø Church / Fjelsø kirke - Himmerland.

 Vesthimmerlands Kommune, Viborg Stift.

Fjelsø church, north of Viborg.

Fjelsø church is located high in the northern section of the Fjelsø village. It is a Romanesque parish church built in the 1100s. The Romanesque style is characterized by the large carved ashlars, the massive walls and the low round arches above doors and windows.  The original building consisted only of nave and choir until the 1400s where a Gothic tower was built, and later a porch in 1847.

In earlier times were two doors - a south door for the men and a north door used by the women. The north door is bricked up, but it is easy to see where it was.
In the brick-up section outside is a male head carved in a stone in the wall. A male head like this is carved in the south wall of the choir.
It is not known why they are placed  there.   

 My theory.: since the heads are turned upside down it might not be their first placement. They were probably valued from the beginning for some reason, but later considered heathen by the new religion, Christianity -  and the Catholic priests wanted to remove their "witchcraft" or humiliate their importance by turning them upside down.

church dike, fjelsø
Inventory: The altar table was originally just a large carved block of granite. This granite block is still in the church, but it is now enheightened and covered by wooden panels. The paintings in front of the altar were made in the beginning of the 1700s. Sections of the altarpiece goes back to the 1500s, but the main part is from the 1700s,  where it was given to the church by Christen Sørensen.  Two altar paintings  were painted in 1895 by Luplau Jansen

A chalice and a disc for the communion were given to the church in 163? (the last number is not visible) by the parish priest Jens Nielsen Brasen, whose name is also engraved in the candlelabres with the date 1666. On the foot of the candlelabres is also the name Jens Poulsen. It was said that he gave them to the church as a penance for some some damge he made by negligent burning of some heaths in Vesterbølle.

The present altar chalice and wafer box were given by parson Hans Nielsen Højgaard in the years 1916 - 1943.

The baptismal font is granite and probably as old as the church itself. The baptismal dish is new, but an earlier dish from the 1700s hangs on the wall of the choir.
The oldest sections of the pulpit origin from the 1500s with picture fields in two storeys. The decorations were made in 1736.

church dike, Fjelsø
The priest tablet is new and was made in 1944. Here are names of the parish priests of the church since the reformation. The names before the reformation are not known.
The ship model "Nordstjernen" hangs in the nave. It is borrowed from Gedsted church.

The altar carpet is from November 1983 and designed by the teachers Ruth and Holger Møllebjerg, Hvalpsund kirke, where it was placed earlier.

The church bell without inscription  is from the end of the 1200s. .

Sources: Booklet of Fjelsø kirke by Flemming Kloster. Erik Horskjær ( red). De danske Kirker, Gads forlag 1968. 

Landscape in Himmerland.

photo August 2015: grethe bachmann 

north of Fjelsø lies a beautiful rosepark in Aalestrup, Den jyske Rosenpark. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Engum church / Engum kirke, Hatting Herred, Vejle Kommune.

Engum kirke (foto Nordiske Kirker)

Engum kirke lies 8 km northeast of Vejle

Engum church was built in travertine ab 1150 and proably before. The white washed walls rise directly from the ground.

The church lies in the southern part of the small village with open fields to the south and west and with the vicarage as the nearest neighbour to the east. The church is surrounded by broad, double, granite boulder dikes.
At the main entrance by the main village road is a driving gate + small gate with wrought iron wing-doors, a lesser alike entrance to the west. In 1836 the grass covered church yard was being grazed by geese.

Only few Romanesque details are kept, on the northside are dimly seen the bricked- up round-arched windows and inside is kept the Romanesque choir arch with profiled corbels.

Engum church foto Google earth.
The Gothic vault was built ab. 1400 while the broad west tower and the porch were added in late Gothic period ab. 1500.

The choir's triumph wall and choir arch were decorated with Romanesque frescoes from ab. 1200, especially remarkable are the repainted frescoes on the choir arch.

The church was a manor church for the manor Tirsbæk on the northside of Vejle fjord, and it is strongly marked by the aristocratic church owners. A fine portrait stone in early Renaissance is placed over rigsråd Ove Vincentsen Lunge (+ 1540). He was one of the most important landlords in Denmark and started shortly before his death the building of the present Tirsbæk manor.

 Oldest inventory:
The oldest inventory is the Romanesque font in reddish granite, of a simple type.
The communion table is late medieval in monk bricks, but is covered on three sides with a panel. In the table is a reliquary (found in 1979, contents only a piece of green silk) The reliquary was in the shape of a bærealter (an altar to be carried)

The inventory was new-furnished in 1759-60 into Rococo-style

The Rococo inventory is from ab. 1760, the givers were Maren Loss of Tirsbæk  and her second husband, the earlier manager of the estate Jørgen Hvass. He was enobled in 1761 with the pretty name Lindenpalm, which was celebrated by gifts to the parish.

Altarpiece, foto Nordens kirker
The altarpiece is from 1759, made by the Horsens-joiner Jens Jensen the Young. In the big field is a pretty carved crucifix. Jens Jensen is also the master of the other Rococo-piece in the church, the pulpit with a cherub. The pulpit is dated 1765, but behind the flowering Rococo is a simple Renaissance stool. The pulpit is decorated with seven women, symbolizing the cardinal virtues, but they seem  to be not the Christian virtues, considering the seven relaxed challenging graces on the sides of the pulpit.

After a thorough restoration the inventory now stands with the original colours and paintings from 1759-60 (red, blue and much gilding)

Cherub, foto Nordens kirker
Altar rails also from 1759-60 and two cherubs with flaming swords guarding by the choir arch.

Well-preserved pews with 35 interesting  emblem-paintings.

Altar silver from Jørgen N. Brosbøll, Vejle
Wafer box 1778 Matthias Winge, Vejle.

Church ship model: five-masted barque, the school-ship "København",  which disappeared in the South Atlantic 1928-29. 

Church bell: 1765 cast by Michael Carl Treschel, Copenhagen
Church bell 1836 cast by C. Frederik Weiss, Horsens.

Several grave memories ( owners of Tirsbæk )

Source: Danmarks Kirker, Niels Peter stilling, 2000,  Danmarks kirker, National Museet.

Photo: Thanks to Nordens kirker. and Google earth.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Spentrup church/ Spentrup kirke, East Jutland

Spentrup kirke , 9 km north of Randers.

The Romanesque church in Spentrup was built in the 1100s in granite ashlars. Spentrup is known as the church of the Danish author Steen Steensen Blicher, who was priest in Spentrup church for 22 years. He is buried on the north side of the church yard. By the village road, close to the church is a memorial house for Blicher.

Memorial house, Blicher, Google earth.
The church consists of choir and nave, built upon a profiled plinth. The men's door is in use behind the walls of the porch, the women's door to the north is bricked-up. The Romanesque windows are preserved on the northside of the church, while the large round arched windows on the southside were inserted in 1884. The church was extended to the west in the Middle Ages, and the Gothic tower was built ab. 1500 like a ridge turret above the walls of the extension. The upper section of the tower is monk bricks, the rest is granite ashlars. In the late Gothic period were built fire bays vaults in the nave with the tower room and one in the choir. The Romanesque triumph wall with profiled corbels is preserved. 

In the choir arch are some unique Romanesque frescoes, painted by one of the masters of the period The paintings were uncovered in 1880s, they are inspired by Byzantine art from ab. 1200s with lapis lazuli as the dominating colour. Those biblical scenes are very beautifully painted on the choir arch. On the triumph arch are some very damaged rests of a Romanesque decoration of Christ 

Spentrup kirke, Google earth.
The granite font is the oldest artifact in the church, it is a colossal font, carved in a huge monolitblock. They were probably so fond of this "pure" piece of stone that they avoided to decorate it.  The communion table is the old granite table wuith a reliquary. The altarpiece is Baroque and carved ab. 1700 by Lauritz Jensen Essenbæk, he was also known for the altarpiece in Budolfi church in Aalborg and Borup church near Randers. He also carved the altarpiece for Gassum church, given by Peder Rosenørn of Tvilumgård. The decoration is from 1734. The altarpiece in Spentrup was given by parish priest Hans Bröchner, because he was protected by God, when a tree fell over his wagon and crushed it without hurting him. The pulpit from 1705 with Evanlgelist reliefs in round arched arcades is a remarkable Baroque work. A Gothic crucifix hangs in the tower room.

Spentrup church was a valfartskirke (pilgrimage church) in high Middle Ages, which explains its size and the fantastic frescoes, later it was marked by that there was no manor in the neighbourhood, it belinged for a time to Dronningborg rytterdistrikt (a military district)

Source: Danmarks kirker, Niels Peter Stilling, 2000, Spentrup kirke. 

photo Spentrup: Google earth.

memorial, photo, wikipedia
From the 20th century is a special gift  with a historical perspective: a baptismal jar with an inscription on the footpiece: "Anskaffet til Spentrup kirke 1947 for en arvepart skænket kirken af Niels Nielsen Kjær, Hvidsten, der faldt for Danmark 29. juni 1944?". Niels Kjær was one of the members of the resistance group Hvidstengruppen who was executed by the Germans in Ryvangen in 1944 After the liberation in 1945 8 urns of the members of Hvidstengruppen were placed upon a memorisl place in the porch of Gassum church.


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Øster Hornum church/ Øster Hornum kirke , Himmerland

Øster Hornum kirke, 10 km south of Nibe.(Google earth)

The parish church in Øster Hornum is one of the big churches from the early Middle Ages. It was built in the middle of the 1100 and probably inaugurated in 1172. It is situated high in the landscape over the old village Øster Hornum which was once a herredsby  (district town)

The large Romanesque church in granite ashlars consists of apse, choir and nave from the first building and a tower from the 1200s. The tower was rebuilt ab. 1770, and the medieval details were destroyed,among those a fine gallery with pillars, which is traceable in the bottom room of the tower.

The Romanesque granite font is the finest inventory in the church. The magnificent font is from the building period, a "Fons Vitae" with lions and other creatures in high relief.  A Latin inscription is carved along the edge of the font from Davids psalms " I am the source of life - and in your light we see the light".

The choir arch with portal pillars is a rest of the magnate church's  Romanesque interior.  From medieval inventory are two very pretty carved oakwood-figures, an unidentified bishop and  Maria with baby Jesus. Both figures are from the 1200s. The choir arch crucifix with Evangelist medaljons in four corners is Gothic, from ab. 1300. The pulpit from 1604 is also one of the attractions of the church. The altarpiece is probably from the late 1500s, the pulpit, made in Aalborg, is dated 1604.
Altar candelabres from the 1500s.

Link , where you can find photos from the church:

source: Danmarks Kirker Niels Peter Stilling, 2000, Øster Hornum kirke

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Borbjerg church / Borbjerg kirke Vestjylland

Borbjerg kirke, Google earth

Borbjerg kirke lies 11 km northeast of Holstebro.

The big, partly whitewashed church in Borbjerg village is marked by rebuild and extensions in the 1400s. The original Romanesque church is built in granite ashlars in the second half of the 1100s. The choir and nave stand upon a bevelled plinth. From Romanesque details are kept both entrances, both with tympanons with a cross in high relief. The men's door is bricked-up while the women's door is in use via the northern porch. Two monolit-lintels from the nave's Romanesque windows are inserted in the cross arms

In the middle of the 1400s the church was extended with cross arms on both sides. They are built in granite ashlars and in the upper sections in monk bricks. Later came the Gothic tower to the west with north-south gables. According to West Jutland custom-the porch belongs like the tower to late Gothic and it is like the tower built in monk bricks.

During the extension of the choir and the cross arms were built Gothic vaults. They are whitewashed with no trace of frescoes. The  nave is covered with a flat beamed ceiling with a striking and well-composed painting from 1913 in winding decorations on red and grey ground.

Borbjerg kirke, Google earth

The altar decoration consists of two very special sections, a frontale on the communion table with wooden reliefs from the middle of 1200s. The front is carved in three oak-planks put together in one. It is a remarkable work and it was probably made by a joiner- master once in the 1200s. He had seen the golden altars in Sahl and Stadil church, but made his own work in wood with multicolours and metaldecorations. After a restoration of the frontale in 1926 it now stands with a powerful gilt. The motifs are biblical and some of the reliefs follows closely a section in the golden altar in Sahl church.

There are three styles in the frontale and the altarpiece, the front of the communion table is Romanesque, the altarpiece is high Gothic alabast placed in a Renaissance frame work.
Borbjerg kirke, wikipedia

The pretty decorated altarpiece is a brilliant carving from the beginning of the 1600s with pillars, angels, hermer and everything else from the Renaissance, but in the frame work is inserted a very unique alabast altarpiece from the beginning of the 1400s. It is an English import-work, probably from Nottingham  Seven reliefs show the legend about Sct. George (DK: Sct Jørgen)
Three pretty wooden figures in the arcade field in the upper section of the altarpiece are from another late Gothic altarpiece from the 1400s.

The priest-chair on the left side of the altar has a funny openwork Baroque relief. "the apple pickers",  Adam and Eve surrounded by vigorous paradisetrees. From the other inventory is a simple granite Romanesque font from the start of the church building. The pulpit is dated 1625 and is decorated with very simple Evangelist-paintings. The church-connection to the manor Rydhave in the annex-parish Ryde north of Borbjerg parish can be seen on some manor pews, and in the tower room is established an open funeral with a distinguished sandstone sarchophagus for kammerjunker Gert Levetzau (+1791) of Rydhave.

A unique Baroque epitaph from 1683 hangs in the southern cross arm. The inscription is a memory of the priest Knud Poulsen's son, Anders Knudsen Borbjerg /1657-1683), who died in Copenhagen before he finished his studies. Two landscape paintings below show a vue over Copenhagen and a motif from France

Borbjerg kirke, wikipedia
The church has a very high situation and is surrounded by a very large church yard, which mirrors the old village's town-like development. The church yard is closely planted and surrounded by big trees. An avenue leads from the porch to the late Medieval portal with a driving gate and small gate.

You can see fotos from church and inventory:

Start with this link

Borbjerg kirke

then choose foto

Source: Danmarks kirker Niels Peter Stilling, 2000
photo: Google earth and wikipedia . 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Nørholm church / Nørholm kirke, Himmerland

Nørholm kirke(foto Google Earth) Add caption


Nørholm Kirke in Aalborg Kommune lies 9 km east of the town Nibe 

Nørholm church is one of the oldest granite churches in North Jutland . It was built ab. 1150 in well-carved ashlars above a bevelled plinth  The Romanesque section consists of choir and nave. The east wall of the choir is partly renewed with supporting pillars. The rebuild took place ab. 1400 in connection to the built of crossvaults in the choir and demolition of the original apse.  Tower and porch were added later. The Gothic additions and the choir gable are whitewashed, while the other ashlar walls stand exposed.

Nøholm kirke , Google earth
The altarpiece has a special attraction. It is a brilliant wood carving in late Gothic from ab. 1510,   richly decorated and gilt, probably from Claus Berg's Odense-workshop. One of the figures on the altarpiece is a kneeling bishop Jens Andersen Beldenak ab. 1468-1537) , who gave the altarpiece to the church.  His coat of arms is held up by a bearded barbarian who is quite different from the  other and very realistic biblical figures in the piece.  The women are dressed in the fashion from the early 1500s, and they are all looking very  healthy with fine red cheeks. Knud den Hellige  (Knud 4.)  is one of the figures in the sidewings, which suggests that the altarpiece came from the Odense workshop.Two wings kept on the National Museum belong supposedly  to the altarpice which then had five wings. The altarpice was possibly made for Sct Knud's kirke in Odense, and it is not clear why it ended up in Nørholm kirke.

The nave has a flat beamed ceiling contrary to the choir which has a Gothic vault. The choir arch has distinctive corbels.  The communion table is bricked. It had earlier a Renaissance front. The altar candelabres are from the 1600s. In the choir are frescoes with winding plants   In the northwall of the choir are built in parts of a late Gothic monstrance cupboard, the only of that kind in Himmerland. In the windows grows a wild plant. The granite baptismal font has very large  sepals. The round foot is newer.

The pulpit was given by Povl Nielsen Kraas and wife Maren Bertelsdatter Kierulf in 1632. According to the upper small fields it was decorated in 1643  The big fields are decorated with the Evangelists. The big fields are divided by hermer with downhanging fruit bunches. Upon the sounding board is a coat of arms of the families Krag and Høeg. The church has two chandeliers and two bells. One bell was made by an anonymous bell caster in 1645, it was given to the church by Niels Krag and wife Jytte Høeg of Trudsholm in gratitude for the peace-closing with Sweden at Brømsebro in 1645. The other and smaller bell was cast by Rasmus Lauridsen in 1585 It was given to the church by Ejler Grubbe of Lystrup.

In the west end of the church is a gallery from the 1700s with apostel-figures

view to Limfjorden/ the country road runs along limfjorden
From other inventory are two epitaphs of aristocratic families, one for  Mads Sørensen and Maren Povlsdatter. In the painting they are together with three daughters and two sons - and three dead babies. The inscription says that the epitaph was set up in 1664 "in his 52th and her 37th year of age" The other epitaph is set up for Søren Bertelsen Kierulf in 1659. It was given by the widow Maren Jensdatter, who was depicted together with her late husband and her new husband Urban Andresen Giedzmann whom she married in 1660. The last mentioned's gravestone of red granite  lies in the church floor in front ot the choir.

See fotos of the church and inventory. 
Start with this link:

Norholm Kirke

then you choose Eksterne Kilder Kort til Kirken
choose foto

source: Danmarks Kirker, Niels Peter Stilling, 2000; Aalborg Stift, kirkehistorie.  
photo: Google Earth

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hals church / Hals kirke, Vendsyssel

Hals kirke, 29 km east of Aalborg

Hals church (Aalborg Kommune)  was built between 1250-1300, it was extended with longhouse choir and tower in ab. 1500, the porch and chapel are from ab. 1600. A thorough restauration in 1741 and 1920.  It was said that it was built at the initiation of the bishop of Børglum. The original church was a small late Romanesque brick church which wallwork is partly kept in the oldest section of the present church Hals church is the biggest village church in Denmark.

Hals church in the village of Hals lies by the eastern  outlet of Limfjorden and close to the sea of Kattegat. It was built in the late 1200 in bricks. About 1500 the church was extended with a longhouse choir to the east and a tower to the west. Later in the same century were built a porch to the south and a chapel for the Family Skeel of Hals Ladegaard 

Hals Ladegård was  situated west of the church until 1950 where it was broken down. .

In the choir stands a fine granitefont with double lions with protruding heads. The font belongs to the Himmerland-section of lion-fonts, which finest example is in Stenild church. The sounding board above the font is a carved late Baroque woodwork from 1727. The initials SH refer to king Frederik 4.'s pious sister Sophie Hedevig, who was a collector of estates. The princess owned Hals Ladegaard from 1716 until her death 1735.

In the choir is an extremely rare piece of inventory from ab. 1300: an incense burner in early Gothic style. Another medieval piece is the late Gothic choir arch crucifix.  (hangs on the wall of the nave)
The pulpit and the altarpiece is a simple Renaissance work from ab. 1600. The altarpiece is dominated by a biblical painting from 1899,. one of the paintings by the mass-producing Anton
Dorph, who was a diligent church painter around 1900. He painted dark, moralizing paintings for many Danish village churches.

Source: Danmarks Kirker, Niels Peter Stilling, 2000
photo: Google Earth 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Glenstrup church /Glenstrup kirke

Glenstrup parish, Mariagerfjord Kommune, Aarhus Stift 
before  :
Nørhald herred, Randers amt.
Glenstrup church, 10 km south of Hobro.
The Romanesque church in Glenstrup was built in the late 1000s. The church is visible far and wide with its whitewashed walls and heavy tower. The nave, choir and tower were built at the same time which was unusual for a Romanesque church in Denmark.  The building materials are raw and cleaved granite boulder  with use of pale limestone and travertine, contrarily to most other and later built Jutland churches which were built in carved ashlars. The tower was originally one storey higher. It was a very impressive building work and it still bears witness of English-Anglo-Saxon  architecture, indicating that the church was built by English or Irish monks. The connection to England was fortified since the Danish king Svend Tveskæg in 1013 conquered England. 


There are various theories why a church this large was built in a small village society - it might be because Glenstrup had a great cultural importance during the Viking period. The church was built upon a a site of an earlier cult house. It might also be probable that the church from the beginning was to become a kloster church  A Benedictine  monastery was founded and built in Glenstrup in the beginning of the 1100s.

Outside in the north side of the nave are visible traces from a big portal which probably can be dated back to the first church. The womens entrance is seen longer to the west in the north side and is from a later date since monk bricks were used here. Monk bricks were not known in Denmark when the church was built in the 1000s. The womens door was found in the 1980s in connection to a cleaning of the chalk layers.  The north portal was probably the monks' entrance to the church indicating that it was no doubt a kloster church. In the tower room is a secret and intact staircase to the tower room. The staircase is built in the wall and led originally up to the upper storey where the church bell was placed. Close to the pulpit was uncovered an old oak plank which once was a lintel above a door. The oak plank has not been dated but it is possibly from before year 1000 and  older than the church. It might origin from the earlier cult house.

The Communion table cannot  be dated, but it was possibly built or reconstructed in the Gothic period when the eastern section of the church was built. It is bricked in heavy brick and shaped  symbolically as the open grave with a hollowness in the table-length. Two ore candelabres are Gothic. Upon the altar is a late Gothic crucifix with side figures from ab. 1500-1520. The crucifix is carved in oak.The earlier altarpiece was a copy from 1895 after Carl Bloch. The present gobelin is designed and woven by Esther Bovë Reintoft in 2003, a testamentary gift from Inga Houman Jensen (Skov). The large Romanesque granite font is atypical for this neighbourhood by being almost without decoration. It might come from the desolate church of Handest or Karlby church and then  transferred to Glenstrup church which after the monastery closure became an ordinary parish church. 
The baptismal dish is from 1731 and the jar was given by pastor Aage Steffensen in 1921. The pulpit is early Renaissance from ab. 1550. .It is built in monk bricks with Ionic pillars and caricature masks of limestone. An earlier decoration with fresco flowers were overwashed. The closed  pews are partly from 1622 - they bear Chr. IV's monogram.

Three large chandeliers are gifts to the church (from parish women 1917 , from Kraghs legacy 1917 , from Jens Mikkelsen and wife 1919) Menora candelabre given as a memory of Vilhelmine Barfod (the vicar's wife in Glenstrup) she died only 28 years old. Her grave was placed oustide the window so her husband could see the gravestone while he was preaching This memorial has been evaluated as worthy of preservation. On the backside of the priest tablet with all the priest names is an inscription saying: "In 1711 was a plague in Handest"
All frescoes were examined  during the various restorations of the church. There were frescoes from 15-19th century, mostly fragmentaric and not suitable for preservation -  and they were overwashed. The only exception is an oblatmærke (seal),  a socalled master mark (master brand) which was almost intact. This is seen in the choir vault and is one of the oldest frescoes among Danish frescoes.
Inside the porch is a runestone with the inscription "Toke satte denne sten efter sin far Ufla, en meget velbyrdig Thegn" The runestone was placed in the now downbroken church in Handest  Another runestone from Glenstrup is at the National Museum in Copenhagen.
The church bell was re-cast in 1766 by Caspar Kønig and paid by Hans Thorenson who was the owner of both Glenstrup and Skjellerup church at that point  The bell weighs 320 kilo. 
Upon the unmarked graves is placed a Romanesque gravestone with a carved cross. It was earlier placed as a treadstone by the church door. 

In the 1100s were built two more churches in the parish in Handest and Karlby which probably was implemented by the monastery. But after a few centuries the two churches ended up desolate in connection to the plague (the black death) in 1350, which in some places caused death for over 2/3 of the population. Handest church disappeared completely when Randers Vejæsen used the last rest of the church as gravel on the country road - but before that some parts of Handest church were used for Glenstrup church and for other places in the parish. Many are now doorsteps by farms and village houses etc.Rests of Karlby church was as late as in the 1860s reused to build the road bridge in Holmegård. The church site by Karlby has later been marked with stones. 

source: Glenstrup Kirke/Glenstrup kirkes historie mm. (seee link below)
 photo from 2003: grethe bachmann

More information about Glenstrup church and the monastery (in Danish) :

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fjelsø kirke / Fjelsø church Himmerland

Fjelsø kirke, Rinds herred, Viborg amt
ab. 20 km north of Viborg 

The Romanesque Fjelsø church is placed high in the northern part of Fjelsø village. The nave and the choir were built in carved ashlars in the 1100s, the whitewashed tower in the 1400s and the porch in 1847.  The north door is bricked up  In the brick-up section is a relief of a Romanesque male head, which turns upside down. In the southern wall of the choir is also a relief of a male head turning upside down. On purpose ? Superstition ? Or a coincidence!

male head upside down

Digitalis by church dike
The altar was originally a large carved granite block. The block has been en-heightened and covered with a wooden panel. The paintings in front of the altar was made in the beginning of the 1700s. Parts of the altar date from the 1500s, but the main part is from the 1700s where it was given to the church as a gift from Christen Sørensen.

Two biblical altar paintings were made in 1895 by the artist Luplau Jansen.

male head upside down
A chalice and a dish for the Holy Communion  were given to the church in the 1600s by the priest Jens Nielsen Brasen, which name is also engraved in the candlesticks with the year 1666. On the foot of the candlesticks is also the name Jens Poulsen. It is said that he gave them to the church as a penance for some damage which happened in a negligent burning of  heaths in Vesterbølle. The present altar jar and wafer box were given by parson Hans Nielsen Højgaard in the years 1916-43.

The granite font is probably as old as the church itself. The baptismal dish is rather new but an earlier dish from the 1700s hangs upon the wall in the choir. The oldest part of the pulpit origins from the 1500s with picture--fields in two storeys. The decorations were made in 1736.
The priest tablet is new and was made in 1944 with names of the priests since the Reformation. The priests before the Reformation are not known.

The ship model "Nordstjernen" hangs in the nave. It is lent out from Gedsted church. The altar gobelin is from November 1981 and was designed by the teacher-couple Ruth and Holger Møllebjerg, Hvalpsund. It was embroidered by local people

The church bell (with no inscription )  is from the late 1200s.

source. Flemming Kloster (Erik Horskjær (red.) De danske kirker Gads forlag 1968. 

photo and text August 2015: grethe bachmann 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Broager church, Broager parish, Sønderborg Municipality

photo wikipedia.
Broager kirke, Broager sogn, Sønderborg Kommune. 

The Romanesque church in Broager was built ab. 1200. The building is in monk stone, the apse, choir and nave are from about 1209, the late Romanesque broad tower is from about 1300, while the two Gothic spires are from about 1400. (31 m high)  A Gothic sacristy and two Gothic cross-arm chapels are also from the 1400s.The church is consegrated to virgin Mary, but it is more known for its connection to Sct. George.

The church in Broager is mentioned the first time in 1209, where the Slesvig bishop gives the tiende (=the tax-income) of seven churches in Sønderjylland to the monks in Ryd kloster (now Lycksborg/ Glücksborg).

The twin towers of Broager church were said to be important during the Preussian bombardment of Dybbøl in the spring 1864. A lookout post was posted upon a footbridge between the spires from where the soldiers could see the grenade rebates in relation to Dybbøl Mølle. And then the aim of the Danish canons could be corrected.
phoito: gb

The main nave of the church forms a cross where the side naves are cross-arms. In the Gothic period the flat beamed ceiling was replaced with high point-arched vaults. In this way there are two styles in the church, both the round-arched Romanesque and the point-arched Gothic style. The church room is one of the most integrated village church rooms in Denmark - there is a gorgeous light among the Gothic cross vaults.

The church is white washed and with many decorations, cornices, friezes,pilasters, three Romanesque round-arched windows are kept.The roofs are covered with slate, except the apse which has a lead roof. Women had their own entrance which is bricked-up. There is also a bricked-up door by the choir. The main entrance today is via the room under the tower. In a corner of the bricked-up north door are two logos, possibly the signature of the brick burner.

 Collection of frescoes

photo all frescoes: gb

There are many frescoes in Broager church from 4 periods, Romanesque from the beginning of the 1200s, Gothic from  ab. 1500 and Renaissance paintings from 1587. Supposedly the earliest frescoes are from the time when the church was built.  In the frescoes from the 1500s is a story about Sct George's martyrdom in divided frames.

photo wikipedia
Below the Sct George- frescoe stands one of the finest "Sct George and the Dragon" sculptures. (Sct George = Danish: Sct. Jørgen) in Denmark.

The sculpture of Sct. George is from the 1400s, while the funny fire-breathing green dragon with a horn in the forehead was renewed  in 1880.

photo gb

The church was changed and rebuilt several times through the centuries - in the late 1990s the frescoes were thoroughly cleansed and the colour-plan in the church was changed from dark to light shades. The pulpit and the baptismal font were moved and the altarpiece was moved ftom its place above the altar which made three southern windows visible. The restoration was in cooperation with architects Hans Lund og Alan Havsteen-Mikkelsen. The last mentioned designed the new altar railings and created the glass mosaics in the middle window of the apse..

photo gb

The altarpiece from 1717 had in 1993 a thorough restoration, made by Anthon Günther Lundt from Sønderborg. The style is Baroque with accanthus foliage. The pulpit is renaissance from 1591 made at one of the fine local joiner-workshops in Flensborg. The baptismal font origins from the first building period of the church together with the communion table. The font - a socalled Funen-type -  is  put together by two granite types, a reddish basin upon a greyish foot. Upon the foot are four carved male heads, two with pageboy haircuts and no  beard and two with center parting and beard. The lid of the font is a wooden crown from 1787. The baptismal dish is brass from the same period.
The font shows the Broager connection to the south Funen district. 

Other inventory:
A Gothic crucifix from second half of the 1200s. The large organ is decorated with a Rococo gallery  from 1746- The nine painted fields in the gallery refer to texts in the bible. In the church are also four pretty chandeliers, where the earliest is from ab. 1700.

photo; wikipedia

Upon the eastern section of the church yard stands a large wooden bell stable/belfry, built in 1650 in heavy oak. The bell house measures 7x7 m in basic plan and is the largest in Denmark  The church yard is one of the most interesting in Denmark. A  medieval custom is still used. Graves are divided north south east west in direction of the villages.

As for a view of Danish history the church yard is a monument to Danish-German conflicts  or cooperation during the latest 150 years. The Preussian army-batteries shot down the Dybbøl position  in April 1864  before the decisive attack on the 18 April. The highplaced Broager landscape was always of a strategic importance which is also is also reflected in the church yard.

Dybbøl , photo gb

The warrior graves from the Three Year War 1848-1851 are like in other places in this disttict a memory of a war without winners - but the large grave site from the war in 1864 is a manifestation over Danish and especially German warrior deed as is seen in the long inscriptions of the memorials.. In front of a common grave among the German graves is an obelisk for 73 Danish soldiers, who were killed at Dybbøl in 1864 in a losing battle to keep the land on Danish hands.

The tragic war-history's ultimate monument is seen just outside the expanded church yard:  A giant hill, built as a memory of the killed soldiers from Broagerland. The hill was plant with nine oaks for nine owner associations . In front of the hill are 165 field stones, one for each affected family , with carved names for 190 killed soldiers from WWI in 1914-1918. In 1920 the land of Broager came together with the other part of North Schleswig back to Denmark. The socalled Gendarmestone opposite the giant hill was erected in memory of two Danish policemen who died in German concentration camp in WWII.

Niels Peter Stilling, Politikens bog om Danmarks Kirker, 2000,
Danmarks Kirker , Nationalmuseet.

photo: Broager kirke, grethe bachmann
photo: wikipedia