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Mniszków Manor

The manor is situated in the southern part of the village of Mniszków, just above an escarpment and a few dozen metres to the west of the main country road. The building’s genesis remains unknown, despite its elegance clearly distinguishing it from the surrounding rural buildings.


The author of a historical and architectural study determined that the building had been either a manor, because of the grandeur of its form and the décor (although it lacks outbuildings), or a minors’ guild house – the “miners’ house” – due to the mining operations carried out since the 12th century in the vicinity of Mniszków and nearby Miedzianka. The mural on the beamed ceiling in the reception hall on the first fall also suggests this. It portrays Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Reden, the Royal Prussian Minister of Mines, in the dress of a mining supervisor bearing mining hammers in his hands, against the backdrop of the mining settlements of Mniszków and Miedzianka. Friedrich’s wife is standing next to him, holding the Miedzianka coat of arms.
The manor was erected in 1728 (the date on the portal).


According to verbal accounts from pre-war village inhabitants, King Frederick the Great of Prussia visited and stayed at Mniszków manor in the 1750s, supervising the Prussian forces during the Seven Years’ War. What is certain is that nearby Dobromierz was the site of a battle between the Prussian army and forces of the Austrian emperor (the Battle of Hohenfriedberg).
Following the collapse of mining in the Jelenia Góra valley, and also Mniszków, weaving (linked to linen production) began to develop. In the second half of the 18th century the house was in the hands of the Geier gamily. The register of the Mniszków urbarium lists Johann Ch. Geier, a weaving merchant, as the property’s owner in 1786. He managed three horse teams for transporting linen fabrics to nearby markets held in Miedziana, Jelenia Góra and Kowary.
In 1908, the house – in a highly dilapidated state – was acquired by Count Albrecht von Ledebur, personal secretary to the Count Hermann Stolberg (owner of Janowice Wielkie and other landed estates in the vicinity). In the years 1909-1910 the new owner, with the assistance of a crew of local carpenters (from Paul Goldmann’s company), carried out extensive building work. Above all the steep-sloping thatched roof was removed, and the house was topped with a so-called ‘Polish’ two-storey mansard roof. Damaged flooring was also replaced in some of the chambers, and tiled stoves were installed in the attic. The new roof was surfaced with shingles. Albrecht’s sister, Matylda von Ledebeur, learned lace-making from local lace weavers, while the younger sister Julia – a well-known painter and later wife of pastor Fritz von Bodelschwingh – visited her brother and is ascribed with the painting over of the baroque ceiling in the south-east chamber. The building’s main entrance was also changed, and transferred from the western side (its baroque portal bearing the year of construction) to the eastern side (glazed entry doors and with adjacent windows); more daylight was thus provided for the spacious hall on the ground floor.
The well-known architect and journalist Paul Schulze-Waumburg is presumed to have participated in the manor’s conversion plans. In 1923 it was acquired by Baroness Christa von Renthe-Fink, and remained in her hands until 1945. The two-storey entrance porch was added on the east side during this time (the date 1933 is given on the structural beam), along with an extension on the north, enlarging the former stables. This resulted in a balcony on this side, with a view of the Ołowiane Hills and Miedzianka.


In 1934 (following a small fire) the ceiling above the south-eastern chamber was renewed, painted in stylised baroque ornamentation.
A garage was erected in the garden to the south-western side of the manor for a 6-cylinder car, a convertible used by the baroness’s family and guests for touring the neighbourhood. In the 1930s the house’s ground floor was rented out to the farmer Wiesner and his family, who managed a farm on the land adjacent to the building; two Polish women, forced labourers from the East, worked in the farm during the War years).
After the baroness left the manor in 1945, a small field hospital was organised here for a few months to treat injured escapees from the advancing front. There was also a delivery room for the local population of Janowice Wielkie, Mniszków, Miedzianka and Trzcińsko. From 1947 to 1951, following the plundering of the manor by the Soviet army, it housed the management of a group exploring for uranium in Mniszków (comprising Russians only). Using prisoners-of-war, this group bored exploratory uranium drifts nearby. Because the exploration was unsuccessful, work was discontinued in 1951. For many years to follow the manor gradually fell into ruin. It was bought in a ruinous state in 1980 by a private person, and now serves as a family-run holiday home. Construction and restoration work was conducted in 1980-88, thanks to which the building has survived in good technical condition, fit for use.
Architecture
Today’s manor is rectangular in plan with the hall on its axis (originally open at both ends) with two extensions: a porch on the east, on the axis, and an asymmetrical extension to the north. The north-western corner used to house the stables. The building is compact in form, with two main storeys, the ridged mansard roof additionally housing usable attic space. The elevations are crowned with a massive and profiled timber cornice. Simple stone framing partially surrounds the rectangular windows. Some of the woodwork originates from the 18th century, and features the original fittings. The front elevation comprises five bays, the central bay emphasised by the porch supported on the ground floor by two timber pillars. Stone steps lead up to the entrance, flanked at the base with two pedestals bearing stone cones. The building is rendered yet more picturesque by the  framework structure on the first floor, creating symmetrical decoration formed by the horizontal timbers and diagonal braces. The external timber framing is typical of German building. The severity of the layout and flatness of the elevations contrasts with the rich décor.


The interiors have entirely retained their historical character, with numerous aspects of the original décor. The western section of the hall houses the staircase. The beamed ceiling of the first-floor hall is adorned with exceptionally colourful painting. In the central portion of the ceiling, in volute frames of ribbons interlaced with acanthus, are genre manor scenes as an allegory of the five senses.
Apart from these depictions there are also scenes of country life, scenes with miners, a mannerist scene and others. The fragments presented embrace an enormous repertoire of decoration distinctive of the Late Baroque. The ceiling painting in the large front chamber has a purely decorative programme featuring very refined colours. This room’s décor is completed by the wooden wainscoting with alternately arranged recessed panels – bearing baroque pseudo-marbling and architecture painted against a landscape background, as well as fragments of polychrome murals and polychromised carved-out banisters in the staircase’s balustrade plus ornate wooden doors on the first floor.
Mniszków manor is the best surviving example of a rural courtly residence in the Jelenia Góra valley area.
 
Literature:
Kapałczyński W., Napierała P. „Zamki, pałace i dwory Kotliny Jeleniogórskiej”. Fundacja Doliny Pałaców i Ogrodów Kotliny Jeleniogórskiej. Wrocław 2005.


Translation Jonathan Weber

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