Sunday, April 05, 2009

The tombs at Skt. Petri Church

Last April I visited Skt. Petri church in Copenhagen. The oldest part of the building dates as far back as 1450, making it one of the oldest buildings in Copenhagen, and the oldest church. One of its most striking features is the mausoleum connected to the church. It is is strange and wonderful feeling to walk around in this necropolis - the city of the dead.

Tombs like these are found all around Europe. The first tombs found at Skt Petri kirke go back to the time when the chapel was established in 1681, and is the only one, of its kind in Scandinavia. Three different wings enclose the herb garden, which used to be the old cemetery, where there were many graves. The identity of most of those buried here are unknown. The extended part of the southern wing was built in 1740 on the grounds of an old chapel that had burned down.

You may wander around in the halls of the entire complex. The sarcophagi are placed in three to four layers in the subterranean chambers. Most of the monuments at Skt. Petri were created by contemporary masters as Quellinus and Widewelt.

Some of the most extravagant tombs were made as side chapels in the large southern wing. Here large costly sarcophagi stand on the floor. The largest and most exclusive of all tombs at Skt. Petri is found at the end of the western wing. In a separate building you find to large marble sarcophagi and a baroque epitaph.

Grave of Sir Walter Titley

Why Sir Walter Titley, an English peer, decided to rest in a tomb at Skt Petri, will never be known. A few German poems are stored in a a small urne in one corner. Titley himself is buried in an extravagant ornate marble sarcophagus under a 5 meter monument with a Latin inscription and a portrait made by the sculptor Johannes Wiedewelt (1731-1802).

Titley was born in Staffordshire, November 28th 1700, and arrived in Denmark as "Resident et Envoyé Extraordinaire" in 1729. He served as British ambassador under three Danish kings, Fredrik IV, Christian VI and Fredrik V.

Titley ended up as an admirer of Denmark, and even bought his own country residence by Lyngby Church, where he held his receptions. He decided in his will, to be buried in his second fatherland, Denmark, and chose to rest at Skt. Petri Kirke.

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