first, still wooden church in Brochów was probably founded at the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries. In 1331, the wooden temple was replaced by a brick one, which, according to legend, a German knight Andreas von Dinheim built, who resided in the village as a prisoner of war after the Polish-Teutonic battle of Płowce, and then fell in love with a daughter of Dobrzyń castellan named Sówka, and soon after married her. For the first time, documents mentioned the parish of Brochów in 1356.
VIEW FROM THE NORTHWEST, IN THE FOREGROUND WE CAN SEE REMAINS OF THE MOAT
fter 1551 Jan Brochowski of
Prawdzic coat of arms commissioned the church to be rebuilt by the Italian architect Jan Baptista Venetian (d. 1567), creator of, among others,
the barbican in Warsaw and
the new collegiate church in Pułtusk. The Gothic temple then received two side aisles and corner defense towers, which were connected by a shooting porch running above the aisles. After Brochowski's death in 1554, the construction work was financed by his widow Anna and his sons Jan and Stanisław, thanks to which it could be completed in 1561.
CHURCH HAS EXTERNAL FORTIFICATIONS, BUILT IN THE XVII CENTURY
resumably in the early 17th century the church was fortified by a defensive wall and moat. In 1661 Brochów passed to the ownership of Agnieszka Lasocka, née Brochowska, wife of Olbracht Adrian Lasocki of
Dołęga coat of arms (d. 1690), who renovated the temple and bequeathed part of the income from his estate for its maintenance and upkeep in the future. The parish enjoyed this income until 1863, when the tsarist authorities, as a sanction for the outbreak of the January Uprising, revoked this right, and from then on all repairs to the church were financed by local landed gentry, and later by the state budget.
CHURCH ON A MID XIXTH CENTURY ENGRAVING, "TYGODNIK ILUSTROWANY" 1860
The history of the parish church in Brochów is linked to the family history of the Chopins, who resided in nearby Żelazowa Wola. Indeed, it was here, on June 2, 1806, that the wedding of
Nicolas Chopin (d. 1844) and
Tekla Justyna, née Krzyżanowska (d. 1861) took place, and on Easter 1810 their son Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin (d. 1849), one of the most brilliant composers of all time, was baptized.
OUTBUILDING OF THE UNPRESERVED MANSION IN ŻELAZOWA WOLA, IN THIS BUILDING FRYDERYK CHOPIN WAS BORN
uring the Russian-Prussian battle fought over the Bzura River in 1915-16, the church was turned to ruins and its furnishings were irretrievably destroyed. Only individual sculptures, a few smaller paintings and stone memorial plaques managed to be salvaged from this catastrophe. After Poland regained its independence, in 1924-29 architects
Jarosław Wojciechowski and Tymoteusz Sawicki reconstructed the building in Gothic style with elements of the then popular art deco. However, this reconstruction did not include decoration of the interior, which remained austere and devoid of artistic charm.
INTERIOR OF THE CHURCH IN 1903
DESTROYED CHURCH AFTER 1915
n the late summer of 1939, fierce Polish-German warfare took place in and around Brochów, part of a huge battle remembered as
the Battle of Bzura. The church was bombed again, although this time the damage turned out to be much less than during World War I, and already in 1949, after a short renovation, the building could serve the local community. Later, however, during the communist era, due to the lack of necessary repairs, its condition underwent slow but systematic degradation: cracks appeared in the walls, plaster was falling off, and the roof risked collapse. All these defects and dangers were removed only in the 1990s, and before 2010 - as part of preparations to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Fryderyk Chopin's birth - interior of the temple regained the beautiful decor lost in 1915.
VIEW OF THE CHURCH FROM THE NORTHWEST, AS IT STOOD IN 1916 AND TODAY
he church is a basilica built on a rectangular plan with a medieval central nave and 16th-century side aisles. The austere exterior of the building is accentuated by two cylindrical towers placed at the western elevation. The eastern elevation of the temple is completed with an apse and a round tower rising from it, which is rarely seen in Poland, but quite popular in the architecture of northern Italy. All church towers are topped with conical roofs covered with sheet metal. Communication between them is provided by corridors above the side aisles featuring shooting windows. There are also shooting holes in the western façade at the main entrance, and in the ground floor. The church is surrounded by a wall with bastions, probably erected in the first half of the 17th century, which, given the times of its construction, had a primarily symbolic significance.
PLAN OF THE CHURCH ACCORDING TO J. ŻABICKI: 1. MAIN NAVE, 2. SIDE AISLES, 3. CHANCEL,
4. PORCH, 5. TOWERS, 6. DEFENCE WALL WITH BASTIONS
VIEW OF THE CHURCH FROM THE WEST
nterior of the church was covered with a barrel vault with
coffered decoration in the shape of square and circle. Vaults of the side aisles, in contrast, received decorations shaped like interpenetrating octagons filled with polychrome. The interior of the temple is illuminated by wide Gothic windows, which originally (before the 18th century) were probably more slender.
THE MAIN NAVE, IN THE PHOTO ABOVE: DECORATION OF THE VAULT AFTER RECONSTRUCTION IN 2008-2009
he current appearance of the church deviates to some extent from that of the 16th-century and is a result of historically unreliable restoration work from the early 20th century and the 2008-2009 revitalization, which brought back its former colorful decoration. The church's furnishings are almost one hundred percent contemporary (altars, benches, stalls, the sculpture of Christ from the rainbow beam are copies made on the basis of archival photos from before the First World War) - the few exceptions include 18th-century statues of Dominican saints. Original fireplaces for cooking food (useful during the long siege) have also survived, and in the basement - graves of the Lasocki family - owners of the village in 1662-1931.
NORTH ELEVATION OF THE CHURCH: BEFORE WORLD WAR I, AFTER WORLD WAR I, TODAY
Every third Sunday of September, the Brochów municipality organizes historical reenactments commemorating some episodes of the Battle of Bzura (1939). It is actively attended by at least several hundred enthusiasts dressed in Polish, German and Slovak uniforms, also cavalry and historic armored vehicles and even aviation.
CHURCH IN BROCHÓW, WITH THE BZURA RIVER IN THE BACKGROUND
The church serves a religious function and is not open as a tourist facility. Admission to the inside is generally only during church services. On a daily basis, the interior of the temple can be viewed only from the porch, which is separated from the nave by a solid grating.
There is a platform for wheelchairs at the stairs leading to the main entrance.
Around the church you will find a lot of free space and great conditions for taking aerial shots.
rochów is located 13 km north of the town of Sochaczew, near the western border of the Kampinos Forest. From Sochaczew one should take the road no. 705. After about 10 kilometers there is a crossroads with a chapel - here one should turn left, following the signpost with inscription Malanowo 0,6.
We can leave cars and bicycles in the small parking lot adjacent to the church on the north side, or directly along the road in marked parking spaces. Parking is free.
1. M. Kozarzewski, A. Karolczak: Polichromia kościoła w Brochowie..., Renowacje i zabytki 2010
2. M. Przygoda-Stelmach: Bractwo parafialne św. Rocha..., Saeculum Christianum 2013
3. Z. Skiełczyński: Dawny Brochów, Leszno 1993
4. A. G. Turczyk: Brochów i Chopin, Ziemia Sochaczewska, 7/2000
5. J. Żabicki: Leksykon zabytków architektury Mazowsza i Podlasia, Arkady 2015
A TYPICAL PART OF THE LANDSCAPE OF THE MAZOVIA REGION ARE OLD WILLOWS
Castles nearby: Sochaczew - ruins of ducal castle from the 14th century, 12 km Łowicz - relics of bishops' castle from the 14th century, 40 km Płock - ducal castle from the 14th century, 49 km