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) :


No comments: