uwzględnij wielkość liter
dokładna fraza
zawarta fraza
You are in:
Tradition / Chopin Institutions / Sites / memorabilia / in Żelazowa Wola



Żelazowa Wola


I.   Situation and natural conditions

II.  The oldest times

III. Gentry manor houses in the nearest vincinity of the Skarbek family seat. Landowners in the Chopins society circle

IV. The times of the Skarbeks and the Chopins

V.   Late 19th century and recent history


I. Situation and natural conditions

The Mazovian lowland is a vast, flat region situated in the central part of the Vistula river basin. Fertile soil and a rather mild climate produce aboundant vegetation so everywhere there is arable land and meadows stretch out as far as the  horizon, surrounded by forests in places.

One of the most charming parts of the Mazovian plain is the valley of the river Bzura in the neighbourhood of Łowicz and Sochaczew. The river flows in picturesque meanders, heading for the nearby Vistula,  and collects the waters of six tributaries on the way. One such tributary, last but one, is a small stream by the name of Utrata. On its banks, the marshy land is covered with luxuriant meadows, cut across by country roads, and lined with rows of crooked willow trees.

Each season of the year brings changes to the appearance of that patch of Poland. It is at its most pastoral and idyllic in the spring when the fields are covered with all shades of green, when the orchards blossom in white and each free inch of the ground radiates with the yellow of the dandelions. Late autumn is the most melancholy. The colourful patchwork of fields disappears under the even ridges left by  ploughs, grey mist advances from meadows and woods, enveloping the willows looming here and there from afar, stooping like a ploughman used to bend over his plough.....

It is here, on the right bank of the Utrata, right where it joins the river Bzura, that a tiny village of Żelazowa Wola took up its abode about five hundred years ago.


II. The oldest times

Because the archival sources concerning the area are rather scanty and riddled with loopholes, long periods in the history of Żelazowa Wola remain practically unknown. However, they can be reconstructed if a certain similarity in the course of history of the village and the history of the region can be assumed. The neighbourhood was crisscrossed by  the main transport routes leading from the south in the northern direction towards the local river crossing on the Vistula, and the so-called east-west royal  route along the southern border of the ancient forest. As the history of Poland was invariably full of wars, so the area frequently witnessed armies marching to their battle fields. For this reason, the area around mouth of the Bzura River happened to be the stage of dramatic events, not entirely indifferent to the course of history.

Certain data, useful for the reconstruction, may come from the comparatively well documented histories of the families connected with nearby Brochów. At first, the area constituted the Crown lands, then it belonged to the Mazovian dukes, and since the 14th century it was the property of Jan Sówka, a knight who belonged to the noble clan of Prawdzic. During an inspection of the royal village Plecewice, carried out  in 1564, its location was defined as neighbouring on the estates of  Brochów, Chodaków and Żuków and two gentlemen by the name of  Zilazo were named as the owners  of Chodaków.1. Probably, they were the two well known noblemen Mikołaj and Piotr Żelazo of  the  noble clan of Prawdzic who, in 1579, appeared in the local documents as paying the land tax  for the Żelazowa Wola estate2.. The fact that their family coat of arms is the same as that of Jan Sówka is not quite accidental and allows of assumption that they also came from that knightly family. At the same time it can be presumed that Żelazowa Wola was founded by Mikołaj and Piotr between the above mentioned year 1564 - as it had not appeared in the sources before that date - and 1579. After that, the village disappears from the historians' horizon for over a hundred years.

In the meantime, the descendants of Jan Sówka, settled in Brochów, took the name of Brochowski in the 15th c. and had numerous offspring. They in turn married into noble  families living on close and not so close neighbouring estates which resulted in fragmentation of their estates and change of ownership at the same time. Around mid 17th c. the estates were deeply in debt. The Swedish invasion led by Gustav Adolf sealed the fate of the estate and in 1661 it was taken over by Olbracht Adrian Lasocki who married Agnieszka, neé Brochowska. Olbracht repaid the debts and enlarged the estate, adding to it the neighbouring villages, among others, Chodaków, which used to belong to the Żelazo family.3 History does not say anything about the vicissitudes that befell Żelazowa Wola and the degree of destruction it sustained during the war with Sweden.

Since the end of the 17th c. the estate was the property of the Paprockis. In 1772, Adam Lasocki, a great grandson of Olbracht Adrian, bought it from them. Then - as is confirmed by the Sochaczew municipal documents 4. - the village changed hands till the year 1787 when Piotr Łuszczewski became its owner. The above mentioned documents allow of a partial insight into the atmosphere of those years. On the river Utrata, within the Chodaków estate, there was a watermill about which the neighbours went to court as they did about the boundaries of their estates. It can be presumed that an atmosphere of claims and quarrels, generally prevailing among  the gentry, which earlier led to the first partition of Poland, did not differ much in this particular part of Mazovia from that of, for instance, Izbica in the Kujavy region, the former family seat of Kasper Skarbek from which he arrived in Żelazowa Wola.


III. Gentry manor houses in the nearest vincinity of the Skarbek family seat. Landowners in the Chopin family circle.

A closer look at the above mentioned municipal documents leads  to interesting conclusions. It turns out in fact that the estates in the nearest neighbourhood of Żelazowa Wola were the property of the representatives of  families whose genealogy points directly to close family or social ties with the Skarbeks and then the Chopins as well. Naturally, some of those ties started with the settling of the Skarbeks on the river Utrata, but some others definitely went further back.

Brochów at that time belonged to Adam Lasocki. His wife, Kunegunda, neé Mikorska5., came from a family connected to the Skarbeks 6. two generations earlier. She was a sister of Barbara Wodzińska, the grandmother on the distaff side, to Maria who was later to become Fryderyk Chopin's fiancée. From the same family of  Mikorski came Urszula, wife of Feliks Tykiel, a half-brother of Józef Kalasanty Jędrzejewicz.7. Adam Lasocki was well acquainted with the   Ciechomski family which was years later confirmed by Józefa Bichniewicz, neé Ciechomska.8. The son of Adam and Kunegunda, Michał married (1816) Antonina Łączyńska who was Mikołaj Chopin's pupil at the time when he was a private tutor to the children of the Łączyńkis at  Kiernozia.9.

The owner of the estates Chodaków, Gawłów and Żuków at that time was Jerzy Skarzyński. Around 1789 his daughter Marianna10. was born there. She later appeared in Chopin's letters as "Mrs Pruszak", mother of Fryderyk's friend from school "Kostuś" and his sister "Olesia". In Chopin's letters to Tytus Woyciechowski there also appear the names of  Wincenty and Walerian Skarzyński. They were representatives of other lines of the family, well known in Warsaw circles, especially so  with the families of  Pruszak and Chopin, and  consequently also acquainted with Woyciechowski.11. This explains why Fryderyk used to eagerly tell all the Warsaw gossip concerning the Skarżyńskis to his friend in Poturzyn.

Finally, lets us mention Ignacy Plichta who was a  local  judge in Sochaczew and adjudicated in numerous litigious matters concerning the local estates.  In later years, for his impeccable service, he was promoted to the post of judge in the Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court in Warsaw.12. Quite probably, the Chopins became acquainted with his family in Żelazowa Wola.


IV. The Times of the Skarbeks and the Chopins

Żelazowa Wola was purchased by Ludwika neé Fenger, a daughter of a Toruń banker and wife of  Kasper Skarbek, from Piotr Łuszczewski in the years 1798 - 99. A year later, she also bought his brother Ignacy's estate Orły that was situated  on  the other bank of the river Utrata.13.

Not far from that spot, the river Utrata spread picturesquely into an overflow area where there was a watermill14. that featured in the court cases between neighbours mentioned above. From the river bank a gentle rise led  to the manor house on the top of the  hillock where there also was a yard flanked by two outbuildings, and some farmhouses a small distance15.

The Skarbeks came to live here with five small children, Kasper's sister in law and her two underage daughters. Years later, Chopin, still a small boy, dedicated his first published composition, Polonaise in  G-minor (1817), to Wiktoria, the younger sister of the two. The Skarbek family was in serious financial trouble. In the years directly preceding the purchase of the estate, Kasper - widely known as a big spender, not only carelessly wasted his father's fortune but also mortgaged his family estate in Izbica. An attempt to run away from his debtors to Żelazowa Wola proved unsucessful and soon, in secrecy from his persecutors, Kasper travelled into the unknown, leaving his wife and children to their own fate. Ludwika had to file for divorce and from that time on she had  to both take care of her children and run the farm and manage the estate single handed.

To carry out all those duties was not easy, all the more so as some problems connected with the inheritance from her father called for her frequent visits to Toruń. Therefore, she nominated Franciszek Grembecki16., whom she used to know in Izbica, to be her plenipotentiary. For her children she employed a private tutor recommended by her friend, a starost's wife, Ewa Łączyńska on whose estate called Kiernozia he used to work in the same capacity. Mikołaj Chopin, for he was the person in question,  arrived in Żelazowa Wola in summer or autumn of 1802. It  is generally maintained that Ludwika was helped in the daily chores by Justyna Krzyżanowska, a daughter of the estate administrator in Kujavy, who came  from Izbica  together with the Skarbeks. However, neither the date of her arrival to live in Żelazowa Wola nor the reason why she came, are quite clear. It can probably be a fair assumption to think that a direct reason was the death of her father in - as has been recently discovered  -  1805  which must have resulted in a considerable worsening of the financial situation of her family17. What is also not known is whether her marrying the tutor was prompted by some deep emotion or Mrs Skarbek's realistic view of life. In any case, Mikołaj Chopin and Justyna Krzyżanowska were married in the parish church at Brochów on 2 June 1806.

The times were politically unstable and turbulent to the utmost degree. Across the territory that had once been Poland, Napoleon's army was advancing towards the centre of the country. It seemed safer to wait for better times in Warsaw than in a completely unprotected country estate, so all the  inhabitants of the manor house on the Utrata river moved to the capital. This explains why the Chopins' first child, daughter Ludwika, was born in Warsaw. When the threat of turbulent times subsided, Ludwika Skarbek with children and the young couple returned to Żelazowa Wola. It was here, that the Chopins' son Fryderyk was born in the winter of 1810. The mystery of the boy's  two dates of birth and of his godfather is explained in a number of ways.Generally however, it is assumed that the date of 22 February entered in the birth register as the date of his birth is incorrect, as the family always recognized 1 March. On the other hand,  the name of Franciszek Grembecki entered in the parish register who presented the infant for christening together with Anna Skarbek, Ludwika's daughter, gives way to Fryderyk Skarbek who was considered the real god father in both families although he was not present during the ceremony. It should be noted that the boy was given names after his both godfathers to honour them.

Several months later the Chopins moved to Warsaw for good. Therefore they did not witness the tragic events of 1812 when during the retreat of Napoleon's army the main part of the manor house, together with all the Skarbeks possessions,was destroyed by fire. Forced by these conditions, the family took abode in the modest  right side outbuilding which had to be adapted as living quarters. The roof was raised then which allowed space for several additional rooms. Before the entrance a porch was addedand the former outbuilding began to resemble a typical gentry manor house.18. Behind it there was an orchard and a vegetable garden separated from the river by an avenue of poplars running at an angle. Opposite the manor house, across the yard, there was the second outbuilding, untouched by the fire, and near it  there were several linden trees planted in a circle thus creating a natural garden house.19.

In mid-1818, Fryderyk Skarbek got married. Because of that, his mother made some decisions concerning their property: she named him as the sole  inheritor of the Żelazowa Wola and the Orły estates. She  secured an annuity for herself and the right to  live in the manor house, and she obligated Fryderyk to pay off her  second son, Michał. However, Michał within her lifetime, in 1825, bought the estates from his elder brother for a half their worth. Three years later, after their mother's death, the brothers divided the whole of the estate between themselves: Fryderyk became the owner of  Orły, and Michał got Żelazowa Wola.20.

The part of the property in Michał's possession was mortgaged with debts of Ludwika Skarbek. Of special importance among them was the sum she owed to Mikołaj Chopin of almost 23 thousand Polish zlotys. Admittedly, in 1830 the sum was entered in the books as repaid but the further development of events makes one doubt it whether  the debt was really settled. The facts suggest that the younger of the two brothers got into serious financial trouble and such fictitious repayment of the biggest debt was designed to partially clear the mortgage.21.

Soon a new threat loomed over the estate and its owner. When in 1831 a Polish - Russian war broke out, Michał, as many others like him, joined the struggle on the Polish side. After the surrender of Warsaw he found himself in a large group of Polish landowners whose property was confiscated in revenge for insubordination towards the Tsar. Żelazowa Wola was sequestered and credit for the later annulment of the sequestration should probably go to Fryderyk Skarbek, a high ranking official in the tsarist civil service hierarchy.22.. His intervention, morally rather dubious, did not help much in view of a growing number of creditors.

On 25 July 1834, the situation culminated in a tragic finale. Michał, assailed by his debts and beset with grim thoughts about helplessness and loneliness, committed suicide. He left his will and two letters23., one of which was entitled To all: treatise on life and threw some light on the situation and the writer's state of mind. In his will he passed over his closest family completely and did not mention the sum that was owed to Chopin at all. Any attempt to explain such an attitude of the younger of the Skarbek brothers is problematic at present in view of his serious  accusations directed at the people neareast to him, some considerable  irregularities as regards the above mentioned debt, and the unclear matter of the division of the family property.


*                     *                    *

As has already been said, four years after their wedding the Chopins moved to Warsaw which however, did not mean a complete break with Żelazowa Wola. Both families were close friends and maintained quite frequent contacts, the traces of which can be found in the composer's letters.Their meetings took place more often in Warsaw where Fryderyk Skarbek also lived and worked. Because of a considerable distance - in those times - the Chopins visited Żelazowa Wola rather rarely. Not a single instance is known of the entire family travelling there. It seems that the visits of members of the Chopin family were always preceded by a precise invitation and concerned one, two or three of them.

As far as it is known, the first time was on 24 December 1825. Probably on that day Ludwika and Fryderyk were  guests of Mrs Ludwika Skarbek who invited them to a Christmas eve  celebration. Fryderyk wrote about it in his letter to Jan Białobłocki24. which was a real surprise to his friend. The enthusiastic tone may point to the fact that the visit was a special treat to Fryderyk.

Six month later, in mid-June 1826 Ludwika Chopin visited Żelazowa Wola again in connection with a joint journey of both families to Silesia. Apart from Ludwika, who accompanied the young Skarbeks,  the party was later joined by the elder Mrs Skarbek with Emilka Chopin.25.

In August 1830, Michał Skarbek played host to the Chopins. On his return from Poturzyn Fryderyk26. also set out on his way to join them, as if sensing that it might be his final farewell to Żelazowa Wola.

At the beginning of 1832, Anna Wiesiołowska, née Skarbek, paid a visit to her younger brother. On this occasion, Michał sent an elegant carriage to bring the Chopins, too. Due to some unfavourable coincidence the plan did not work. About the  last of the planned visits we learn from Ludwika's letter of 28 June 1832 to her brother Fryderyk in Paris: " we may go to spend the summer at Mr Michał's. We cannot go to stay at Mr Fryde.[ryk's] because he had already sold the Orły estate."[...]27. From this, it might appear that after the death of their mother the two Skarbek brothers maintained the tradition of inviting the Chopin family  to their estate. However, in the summer of that year, 1832, such a visit did not take place. But when a few months later, in November, the marriage ceremony of Ludwika Chopin and Józef Kalasanty Jędrzejewicz  was performed in the  Brochów church, then their wedding party was held at the manor house on the Utrata river.

Maybe there were more such visits  but in the existing and accessible sources no mentions of

them can be found. A certain exception is provided by an interview given to Ferdynand Hoesick, a writer, by Józefa Kościelska, a younger sister of Maria Wodzińska.28. She maintined that Fryderyk used to spend his holidays most often in Żelazowa Wola where - according to her words -  apart from the Skarbeks the Chopins had some other relatives from their mother's side. It seems that the Wodzińkis visited those relatives with Fryderyk on one occasion. But, as Józefa said, she was a small child at that time and did not remember the details of that visit. This hazily remembered event was taken up as a challenge by some specialists analysing the sources to the composer's biography. However, even the most persistent search has not allowed of definitely identifying those relatives so far.

Some other, chronologically earlier, account that confirms that Chopin spent his summer holidays in Żelazowa Wola comes from 1891 from the pen of Aleksander Poliński.29. He wrote down the reminiscences of Antoni Krysiak, a rather elderly peasant who lived on the estate all his life and - as he himself said - he remembered "Master Fryderyk". In Krysiak's opinion, young Chopin visited the squires, the master and mistress of the house very often. On beautiful summer evenings he used to play a clavichord(?) put on that occasion under an old, huge spruce.

For understandable reasons, both these accounts are burdened with a probability of an error and therefore are not entirely reliable. Objectively, the possibility of Fryderyk Chopin's sojourns at the Skarbeks during summer holidays was rather restricted and in principle - except the two stays described above - the other ones might have taken place most probably only before 1823. For it known that in the years after that, Chopin used to spend his summers in other places.


V. Late 19th century and recent history

After the tragic death of Michał Skarbek, the last member of the Skarbek family to own Zelazowa Wola, the estate was inherited, in accordance with his will, by some Franciszek Kwiatkowski. He questioned the reliability of all debts reported to him by the creditors, and also that he owed to Mikołaj Chopin which was mentioned above. All those matters were adjudicated in court but it is not known how the lawsuit ended, except that the estate was probably put up for auction. It can be presumed that the unfortunate owner would retain only a small fraction of the real value, which was indirectly confirmed by his quick sale of the remaining former Skarbek estate in less than a year. It was bought by Józef Wiśniewski and it became his responsibility to repay the sum owed to Mikołaj Chopin .30.

Till the end of the 19th c. the estate changed hands six more times. In the years 1856 - 1859,  the owner was Paweł Jaworski,31. a justice of the peace from Warsaw. It was probably his son, Bronisław who took a photograph of the manor house which later became a prototype of a famous wood engraving created  by Ignacy Chełmicki in 1870.

Jaworski sold Żelazowa Wola to Adam Towiański, the son of Andrzej - a mystic, well known to Polish émigré circles in Paris and in Switzerland, who started a movement called ‘Towianism'. The members of that movement tried to win over also Fryderyk Chopin to their cause but the composer viewed the world in realistic terms and refused involvement, instead he sometimes mocked the phantom plans of the Towiański followers. That brought unfavourable opinions upon Chopin from the adherents of  "master" Andrzej, and the composer also met with some criticism from Adam Mickiewicz, the great poet, who otherwise was friends with Chopin. Towiański's son, the new owner of Żelazowa Wola, as a young man was a supporter of that movement for self-evident reasons, and served his father's cause. On the other hand, he also had practical interests which motivated him to complete his study of agronomy32. and engage in farming on the estate he bought from Jaworski. Interestingly, he also made some efforts to bring back from oblivion the connection of the estate of which he was now the owner, with the "ungrateful" Chopin. Namely, he had a plan to set up a chapel in the outbuilding facing the manor house which would be used to hold church service for the local people who would probably  be slowly "converted" to the ideas of "Towianism". Behind the chapel there was to be another room containing a bust of Chopin. Juxtaposed with the liturgical function of the chapel, that second room was supposed to fulfill the role of a kind of  commemorative room. In the end, the plan was not carried out but the unusual character of the idea  (as far as we know none of the previous owners cherished similar ambitions) induces one to pose a question about a possible inititator of the idea. It seems that it might come from the family of Noskowski who maintained close relations with the Towiańskis and brought up Adam and his brothers and sisters when their own parents went to live abroad.33. A Polish composer, Zygmunt Noskowski, also came from that family, and he retained some memories from his childhood and adolescent years connected with Żelazowa Wola. Years later he again appeared in Żelazowa Wola's history for a moment.34

The subsequent history of the locality was partly recorded by the press of the day. Some of it was connected with a visit to Chopin's birthplace paid by Mily Balakirev who was a Russian composer and an enthusiast of Chopin's music. He found the former property of the Skarbeks in a pitiful state and alerted the musical circles of Warsaw on that account. That was yet another paradox after the intitiative of Towiański. Polish cultural elites reacted with embarassment and made considerable efforts to raise funds to buy the manor house out of private hands and turn Żelazowa Wola into the Chopin cult centre. Despite genuine commitment to public collection of funds, the sum turned out to be insufficient and as a result the funds were alloted for construction of a monument to commemorate the composer. Balakirev took it upon himself to obtain the necessary permission of the Tsar. Balakirev's political mission proved successful and on 14 October 1894 a modest monument, an obelisque carrying the bust of the composer, was erected right in front of the Chopin outbuilding. The event was marked by a ceremony at which Mily Balakirev was a special guest. Also present were many represenatives of the musical millieu of Warsaw including Zygmunt Noskowski in his capacity as a composer of an occasional cantata performed by a choir. Moreover, an improvised recital of Chopin music took place featuring Mily Balakirev, Jan Kleczyński and Aleksander Michałowski. Even the picturesque character, the old Krysiak, made an appearance and in answer to some guests' request, told his story of  the times of the Skarbeks and Chopin's visits.35

This event revived the memory of the Chopin manor house in collective consciousness. From that time on, it started to function as a tourist destination and one of the first guests was Antoni Jędrzejewicz,  the son of Ludwika neé Chopin.36. However, the owner of the estate did not want to sell it and only the WW I military activities in 1917 - 1918 changed the situation. The former Skarbek manor house was burnt down and the estate was parcelled out. After Poland regained independence in 1918, the matter of the purchase of  Żelazowa Wola was recognized as one of top priority tasks. A nation-wide collection was started then to which Ignacy Jan Paderewski offered a considerable contribution. With the money the collection brought, the outbuilding was bought in 1928 together with a large adjacent  area. The credit for that went to several organizations established on the occasion, which had their seats in Warsaw and in Sochaczew. About 1930, a decision was made to undertake general repair work on the outbuilding, and three years later a plan was lauched that stipulated the laying out of a large park sourrounding the house and stretching out to the banks of the river Utrata. Those plans were supported by professor Franciszek Krzywda-Polkowski, an eminent specialist in garden architecture, who fully committed himself to their accomplishment. It is to him that the credit goes for the reconstruction of the 18th c. estate buildings together with the sourrounding garden, the tree-covered areas and the nearby farm buildings. The plans were prepared by Polkowski on the basis of the outline of foundations and other remains discovered during earth works conducted on a grand scale in preparation for the laying out of the park.37.

According to Polkowski's concept the park was to be designed - generally speaking - in an English style that would provide the main feature of the whole plan, that is the Chopin manor house,with a natural frame created by some freely planted clusters of trees complemented with multicoloured flower beds and elements of  small garden architecture such as paths, steps and pergolas. The idea had as many supportes as it had adversaries. The supporters, able to keep pace with the innovative concept of the author, stressed its unique character. The adversaries maintained that it was in conflict with the idea of the Polish gentry manor house as it really was at the beginning of the 19th c. However, the enthusiasts prevailed and soon from all over Poland, and then from abroad also, gifts and donations began to arrive in the form of various species of plants which went into the making of the park to be.Yet another decision was taken concerning the monument - obelisque. It was designed by two  artists, Jan Woydyga and Bronisław Żochowski, in a decadent style, characteristic of the 19th c., which in its appearance looked a little like a tombstone sculpture which did not correspond with the idea of presenting the manor house as Chopin's birthplace. Therefore, it was resolved that the monument would be moved a little further into the park and in the hollow left by the removed plinth a pond would be made whose surface would reflect the manor house and the surrounding greenery.38.

All that work, except the completed renovation and  partial alteration of the former outbuilding, was still in progress in 1939. Trees and shrubs planted earlier managed to grow and Polkowski's concept was slowly beginning to take shape. The official opening of Żelazowa Wola for tourists was to take place in May 1940. Unfortunately, the Second World War thwarted all those plans.

*                    *                   *

During the Nazi occupation the German army was stationed in the manor house. A considerable part of the furnishings went missing then, including a valuable Pleyel piano. The occupants devastated the young park: almost half of the trees were cut down and served as firewood. The interior of the manor house, which was painstakingly renovated, suffered destruction and serious damage made new renovation necessary.39.

It took place in 1948 under the supervision of Mieczysław Kuzma. The interiors acquired the form of modest rooms with whitewashed walls, floors made of  plain boards and ceilings with beams decorated with polychrome paintings of floral and foliar motifs. According to a general plan, the rooms were to be furnished to make up a museum of interior decoration. However, due to grave war losses it was very difficult to find pieces of period furniture and other elements of interior decoration. For the time being, glass show cases were put in their place containing museum exhibits and artifacts and the original plan was carried out towards the end of the 1950s.

Right across the manor house there is a hall with two exits: one of them leads to the porch, and the other one, on the opposite side, opens up into the garden. The hall divides the house into two-track parts. Each of them accomodates three rooms, furnished in the style of  the Duchy of Warsaw, ca.1815. According to  M.Kuzma's  design in the southern part of the manor house there is  a music room, a dining room  and the so-called hearth room, that is, a former kitchen. The rooms on the north side were symbolically allotted to the members of the family: the biggest one belonged to the mother and two smaller ones to the father and the children.

South of the manor house there is a terrace with an old well, a remnant of the old estate area. On the terrace, concert audiences find their seats during Sunday live Chopin music recitals in summer. Such concerts started to be organized in 1954 and became a local tradition.A path from the picturesque steps of the terrace leads to a bridge over the Utrata River. East of the manor house there stretches the most beautiful part of the park with the so-called  garden drawing room laid out in a circle, with a pond and earth terraces arranged in steps. In front of the manor house, several chestnuts over a hundred years old, surround a small yard that has a small pond in the centre. The vista from the river is framed by a pergola which  follows the outline of the walls of the manor house that  was burnt down in 1812. A path parallel to the river leads to the historical monument.

In the years after the Second World War, Chopin's Birthplace often witnessed important events. The first of them was the transfer of Chopin's heart from  nearby Milanówek, where it had been hidden since the time of the Warsaw Rising in 1944, to its rightful place in the Church of the Holy Cross. The ceremony took place on 17 October 1945 and the route led through Żelazowa Wola. Nearly 40 years later, on 7 April 1984, an agreement was signed which marked the creation of the International Federation of Chopin Societies. One more custom observed with pleasure consisted of joint visits to Chopin's birthplace paid by the participants in the Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competitions held in Warsaw.

For almost half a century, in the years 1946 - 2005, with a three year break, the same Fryderyk Chopin Society provided patronage to that historical monument, the  Fryderyk Chopin Birthplace: first as an Institute, then after a change of the name as a Society with the seat in Warsaw. Now that role is fulfilled by the Fryderyk Chopin National Institute.


Teresa Czerwińska

English translation: Magda Mierowska

1. Lustracje województwa rawskiego [Inspection of the Rawa voivodship], 1564, p. 66, ed. Z.Kędzierska, Warszawa, 1959

2Polska XVI wieku pod względem geograficzno-historycznym, [Geography and History of Poland in the 16th c.], vol.V, Mazovia, p.144, in: Źródła dziejowe, Warszawa, 1892

3.  F. Mincer, Lasocki Olbracht Adrian, in: Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. XVI, pp. 544-545. Wrocław 1971

4. Akta Żelazowej Woli z lat 1772 - 1790 [The Żelazowa Wola documents of the years 1772-1790], The Fryderyk Chopin Museum collection, Warsaw. Information about the Paprockis' ownership of  Żelazowa Wola, after: M. Wojtylak, Tajemnice dworu w Żelazowej Woli, in: Rocznik Mazowiecki, vol. XII, 2000, p. 215

5. A. Boniecki, Herbarz Polski, part I, , Wiadomości historyczno-genealogiczne o rodach szlacheckich, [Historic and Genealogical Information about Gentry Families], vol..XVI, Lasoccy herbu Dołęga, Warszawa, 1912

6.  A.Sikorski, P. Mysłakowski, Rodzina matki Chopina.. Mity i rzeczywistość, Warszawa 2000, p. 33

7 .  J. Siwkowska, Nokturn  czyli rodzina Fryderyka Chopina i Warszawa w latach 1832 - 1881,  vol. II p.199

8. Reminiscences of Józefa Bichniewicz from childhood years, photocopy, Photo Library of formerly Fryderyk Chopin Society, now in collection of Fryderyk Chopin National Institute

9 . P. Mysłakowski, A.Sikorski, Chopinowie. Krąg  rodzinno-towarzyski. Warszawa 2005, p. 139

10. as above, p. 179

11. as above, p. 189

12. J. Siwkowska, op. cit., vol.. I, Warszawa, 1986, p.389

13. Dobra Żelazowa Wola, powiat sochaczewski, [The Estate of Żelazowa Wola, Sochaczew district], land register (vol. I) and atachments (vol. II)], vol. I, book 3 [henceforth: Central Mortgage Register]. cf. P Mysłakowski, A. Sikorski, Chopinowie... op.cit., p. 162

14. The place is presented in a painting by Fryderyk Skarbek Birchtree and  Watermill in Żelazowa Wola, oil on canvas, 1823, collection of The National Museum in Poznań.

15. Żelazowa Wola ok. 1790 - 1810. A Map of estate buildings and farm reconstructed by F.Krzywda-Polkowski, Fryderyk Chopin Museum, Warsaw

16.  P. Mysłakowski, A. Sikorski, Chopinowie... op.cit., p. 150

17.  as above, p. 218

18.  Opis dworu z najbliższym otoczeniem sporządzony po śmierci Michała Skarbka w r. 1834 jako inwentarz majątku,  [Description of the manor house and its surroundings made after the death of Michał Skarbek in 1834 as an inventory of the estate]. Documents of the J. Sapinski legal office 1834, index 150, p. 1-8, collection of the State Archives, Łowicz

19. cf. footnote 15

20.  Central Mortgage Register, vol. I., cf. P .Mysłakowski, A. Sikorski, Chopinowie...op.cit., p..163 

21. P. Mysłakowski, A. Sikorski, Chopinowie... op.cit., p.163

22. see above, p.167

23. Samobójstwo Michała Skarbka, dziedzica Żelazowej Woli. Notariusze miasta Warszawy, Kancelaria J.W. Ostrowskiego, 1 VIII 1834, zb. [Suicide of Michał Skarbek, owner of Żelazowa Wola, Notaries  of the city of Warsaw, Legal office of J.W. Ostrowski, 1 August 1834], collection of State Archives, Warsaw, documents' nr 57, pp. 362-376. cf P. Mysłakowski, A .Sikorski, Chopinowie...op.cit., pp. 313-319

24. A letter of F. Chopin to J. Białobłocki, Żelazowa Wola, 24 December 1825, in: Korespondencja Fryderyka Chopina, ed. Zofia Helman, Zbigniew Skowron, Hanna Wróblewska-Strauss, Warsaw 2009, vol. I, p. 145 [henceforth: KFC 2009]

25. A. Clavier, Dusznicki epizod rodziny Chopinów i postacie z ich kręgu w materiałach źródłowych, Liege, 1993

26. A letter of F. Chopin to T.Woyciechowski, Warszawa, 21 August 1830, in: KFC 2009, op.cit., vol. I, p.377

27. Letters of L. Chopin to F. Chopin, Warsaw 24 February and  28 June 1832 in: Korespondencja Fryderyka Chopina, ed. B. E. Sydow, Warszawa 1955, vol. I, pp. 212 and 215

28. F. Hoesick, Słowacki i Chopin. Z  zagadnień  twórczości, Warszawa 1932,vol. I., p.129 and vol. II., pp. 287-288

29. A. Poliński, Co się dzieje z domkiem rodzinnym Chopina,  in: Wędrowiec, November 1991, pp.101-102

30. M.Wojtkiewicz, Dług Skarbków zaciągnięty u Mikołaja Chopina, in: Ruch Muzyczny 2008, nr 4, p..35

31. Central Mortgage Register, vol. I, as quoted above

32. J. Siwkowka, op.cit. vol. II Warszawa 1988, p. 432

33. S. Wasylewski, Pod wpływem mistrza Andrzeja, in: Wiadomści Literackie 1932 No. 17

34  Z. Noskowski, Pomnik  Chopina,  in: Wiek, 1894 No. 10, p. 223

35  J. Kleczyński, Pomnik Fryderyka Chopina, in: Echo Muzyczne Teatralne i Artystyczne, 23 April - 5 May 1894, pp. 215 - 216

36. I Księga Pamiątkowa Żelazowej Woli z lat 1894 - 1945, [I Visitor's Book of Żelazowa Wola, 1894 - 1945], collection of. The Fryderyk Chopin Musem, Warsaw

37. K .Hugo-Bader, O dawnej i nowej Żelazowej Woli, in: Chopin, 1937, booklet 1

38. see above

39.  K.Hugo-Bader, Documents concerning Żelazowa Wola in the years of World War II and in the years after the war, manuscript in the collection of the Fryderyk Chopin Museum,Warszawa.





Start : About us : Editorial staff : Contact : Site map
Copyright by TIFC 2008. Realizacja Rotos.