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