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Kirchen im Alten Land


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die Orgel
Madonna auf der Mondsichel

The St. Nikolai-Kirche / Borstel
According to early accounts we gather  that  the first church in Borstel belonged fo the former Zesterfleth parish on what today is the island of Hanöversand. This parish carried the same name as the old , ancient marrow canal running past it: Borstel Fleet, mentioned for the first time in 1221.The original church was destroyed by a flood and a second one was re-located on the mainland in Kohlenhusen, an incorporated village belonging to Borstel. Floods in the 14 th century repeatedly destroyed the second church. At the end of the 14 th century another church was built on its present location in Borstel. In a document of the 15 th century there os mention of a “newly-erected parochial church in Tzesterfleth, named (designated) to Borstel.” This church and the adjacent cemetery was situated on a mound next to the former Episcopal “tenth” manor house, now-a-days known as the “Wehrt`scher Hof” to the north.

History of the Construction of the Church
The original, late Gothic, one-naved building dated from around 1400. It had an unusual five-cornered chancel front to the east. Only a few remains of the original walls still exist; notice the large-sized bricks on the outer west walls, inner eastern side and sections of the southern wall. The smaller-sized bricks in the walls and the supporting pillars of the south wall were entirely restored between 1770-72. In 1875 the brickwork of the north wall had to be completely re-named.The wooden bell tower, erected in 1695 is 40 meters high. It is set back one meter from the west end of the main church building. Originally the front of the tower was handsomely decorated with beautiful Gothic arches. There are two bells in the tower. The small one, cast in Hamburg in 1771 bears the inscription: “ I call the living to repentance and the dead to repose “. The large one cast in Hamburg in 1763 was melted down during the World War II. The present one was cast in Heidelberg in 1951. The little chime in the small oriels on the outside of the clock (bell) tower roof is one of the oldest church relics in the Altes Land. It dates back to 1200.

The Interior of the Church
A special feature common to most churches in the Altes Land is not their seemingly plain exterior but rather rich uniformity of the decoration on the interior furnishings. For the most part, the church as we see it today, acquired its present form during the major restoration between 1770 and 1772.During the restorations undertaken between 1974 and 1976 one of the main considerations was to preserve the above mentioned uniformity. Therefore, no great changes have taken place except for a very carefully executed alteration of the pews, making for a wider, more comfortable sitting-space. A wind-break in the traditional half-timbered style of this area was added to the front entry. The paintings on the main balcony pews have been completely restored. Most of them were done by the Hamburg Artist, Friedrich Nikolaus Schnibbe. The wall panels and the newer enclosed pews are the word of the Hamburg Painter Hans Förster. They were completed in 1924.

Between 1770 and 1772 the wooden « barrel” vault ceiling was restored. Biblical figures are depicted, under which is found the inscription from Matthew 5, 6: “ Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Choir loft and Organ
The “Priechen” or balcony pews were installed between 1770 and 1772, the same time as the choir loft at the west end of the church. The latter is decorated with pictures of the prophets, some of which ca be traced back to 1732.The organ is situated above the choir loft. It was built and improved over the course of four centuries; original parts date back to the beginning of the 16 th century. In 1637-38 Gottfried Fritsche from Altona-Ottensen rebuilt the organ followed by Arp Schnitger from Stade/Hamburg in 1677. Other parts were added by Johann Paul Geycke in 1770-72 and by Philipp Furtwängler from Elze in 1848-49.

The oldest pew is dated 1636 and belongs to the Dehmels family, who is the present owner of the “Wehrt’scher Hof”, a former manor house. The most recently built pew is dated 1733. The carvings on the fronts of the pews are in keeping with those traditional wooden chests made in this area at the time.

The Baroque altar in the chancel was made by Paul Spangenberg, the Borstel carpenter in 1771. In order to accommodate the chancel the middle choir window was walled up.

Crucifix on the Altar:
The crucifix (1520) is made of oak and still has its original mounting.

Crucifixion Group above the Altar (1520):
The crucifixion group is made of oak, but it has a new mounting.

Madonna and Child on a Crescent Moon:
This carving which dates back to the 14th century is the oldest treasure of the church. It is made of oak and still has parts of the original mounting.

Bronze Baptismal Font:
It is supported by four figures and weighs over 450 pounds. The bronze bowl bears the inscription: “ He who is baptized in this holy spring shall be cleansed”. To the right of the Altar is what was called the “legal seat” with its ornamental carvings. Behind it is the vestry.

The brass candelabra was cast in 1656 and restored in 1975.

The epitaphs in the church were written for the following ministers: Magister Joh. Conrad Reben (tenure 1648 - 78) and Ameling Köncke (tenure 1709-54).

It is hoped that modern improvements will not detract from the original atmosphere of the church, but will preserve and perpetuate the traditions, beliefs and hopes of this House of God.