Former Norbertine’s Convent in Żukowo

Although Żukowo is the youngest Kashubian town, not taking Gdańsk into account, it is where tourist can encounter the oldest architectural monuments in Kashubia. The Norbertines were brought to Żukowo by Duke Mestwin I (died 1214 or 1215) to create a hinterland for the Christianisation missions in the area of Prussia. Since its establishment the monastery was generously supported by local noble families. Mestwin’s granddaughter Princess Damroka, a heroine of Kashubian legends about Chmielno and its surroundings, spent her last years of life there. Since its foundation the Convent was bound with a female school attended by young girls of noble origin and from the end of the 14th century a male school as well. Maidens were taught the needlework, including the embroidery as all the canonicals were made on the spot. Over time, they have established a separate embroidery school which centuries later gave birth to the Kashubian embroidery. Likewise the convent in Kartuzy, convent in Żukowo was suppressed in 1834. Finally, only the conventual church, part of the residential wing, the 19th century presbytery, the stable, the coach house and the figure of St. John of Nepomuk in the courtyard avoided demolition.

The Church of the Assumption of the BVM with its mainly Gothic architecture was erected in the 14-15th century, its vault and matroneum for nuns come from the 17th century and the tower was rebuilt in the 18th century. Above the entrance to sacristy is a crucifix dating to 1360, in a side chapel there is a small alabaster sculpture of the English school from the mid-14th century which depicts the Three Kings and on the northern wall of the nave is Mestwin I altar dating to 1515. From that period dates also an extremely rich Early Renaissance triptych on the chancel’s southern wall. Next to it is the main altar from the early 17th century with a painting connected the school of Herman Han. It is also worth paying attention to the Baroque pulpit and balustrade of galleries for nuns with images of saints and blessed. The choir has Baroque stalls for nuns and an elaborately decorated throne for the prioress.

Since 1990 the coach house building fulfils the role of a parish museum. On the ground floor there is an exhibition presenting the Kashubian culture from Żukowo area, as well as the Żukowski style of Kashubian embroidery. The last student of the monastery school, Marianna Okoniewska, taught her granddaughters Zofia and Jadwiga Ptach embroidery who during the interwar period basing on the golden embroidery motifs and liturgical style began to create and embroider colourful patterns. In such a way the Wdzydzki style of embroidery was created. On the first floor tourist can admire beautifully embroidered liturgical canonicals and old chronicles.

On a hill nearby the complex of post monastery buildings has been erected 14th century church of St. John the Baptist. Once is was located on the central square of the village. As a temple situated outside the convent walls, it was intended for the laity. Numerous reconstructions have somewhat blurred its Gothic character.