Stedum (Gr): reformed
church or St. Bartholomeüs
is a big church in Romano-Gothic
style, built in the 13th century, although the closure of
the choir dates from the 15th century. The big, massive looking
tower is as wide as the single-aisled nave. On top is a saddle-roof,
as is common for churches from this period. Originally the tower
stood free from the church, the connecting part between them
dates from the 19th century. The tower itself is probably younger
than the church and must have been built ca. 1300.
The walls of the nave and transept are divided in two zones;
the lower zone is decorated with pointed blind niches, with a
few gates in between, which often are bricked up. In the upper
zone are pointed windows. The gables of the transept have more
blind niches, of which those on the north side are filled with
decorative brickwork in different patterns. Traces of two demolished
apses at the southern transept-arm are visible. Most of the church
is covered by mellon-vaults, a typical feature of Romano-Gothicism.
The choir originally had a straight closure, which no doubt was
as decorated as the other walls. In the 15th century the current
Gothic closure replaced it. The entire choir is covered by a
Gothic star-vault. This part of the church now serves as a mausoleum
for Adriaan Clant, who signed the peacy treaty of Munster in
1648 as the representative of Groningen and surroundings. The
tomb dates from 1672 and was made by Rombout Verhulst, one of
the major sculptors of his time.
In the corner between the choir and the northern transept-arm
is a sacristy from the 16th century of which only the outer walls
survived a restoration in 1877-1878. It was this restoration
that determined much of the church's current look. Before that
the protestants had mutilated much of the church, enlarging windows
and plastering the vaults. In 1828 and 1836 enormous buttresses
had been built to support the tower.
It was the news about a planned further mutilation of the interior
that urged P.J.H.
Cuypers, in his function as a member of the national counsil
of advisors for monuments, to take action. He managed to convince
a majority of the members of the church-counsil of the need for
a more historically correct restoration, which would be paid
for by the government. Extremist elements in the protestant community
however protested, claiming that
a restoration lead by a catholic would be a first step towards
a new catholic use of the church. In the end however most people
were satisfied. The restoration, according to plans by Cuypers
and executed by his assistant J.J. van Langelaar, resulted in
a reconstruction of windows and niches on the outside as well
as the repainting of the murals on the vaults. The tower and
nave were connected by a new section. Of the sacristy only the
walls remain, the interior was completely renewed. Cuypers' restoration
in medieval style and the use of cement and paint to simulate
stone caused a controversy within the national counsil of advisors,
which as a result was disbanded by the minister in 1879.
A second restoration followed in 1937-1939 by architects Wittop
and Koning. This time the buttresses of the tower were removed.
The section between tower and nave was lowered and given a seperate
roof. The interior was partly spoiled by the use of modern cement
to plaster the vaults.