Station: [10] The Old Church

F: We don’t know exactly when the first church was built in Lette. But excavations have provided evidence for the existence of a small Romanesque church. It was about twelve metres long and six metres wide – equivalent to forty feet by twenty. The church may have been built in the late 12th century by Hermann the Second, Prince Bishop of Münster.

M: Hermann  the Second is known to have established a great many churches. He’d granted a fiefdom in Lette to Varlar Monastery a few years earlier. The earliest record of the church as an independent parish dates to 1260. A particularly striking feature of the old church was its spire – locally nicknamed the Piepenprüörker.

F: The old church was demolished in 1919. Lette had simply grown too large, and the old church could no longer accommodate the congregation. Archaeological excavations later uncovered a great many finds: darning needles on one side of the building, cuff links and pipe cleaners on the other. Skeletons came to light along with bones displaying charring, and there was also a gold medallion with the initials AE. The excavations also preserved part of the 500-year-old clay floor.

M: There’s a legend linked to the history of the church. It tells of a hermit called Johannes von Merveldt, who’s said to have lived in a hermitage in a local moor called Letter Bruch. Every Sunday, he would attend mass in Lette, accompanied by two white wolves. It’s said the wolves later brought the hermit’s coffin to Lette – and so Johannes was laid to rest in Lette’s old church.

F: One of the most prized features of the old church was its tympanum, which dates to the 12th century. We have a faithful copy on display here at the Local History Museum. The original has found a new home in the cloister of Münster Cathedral. A tympanum is the triangular surface enclosed within a gable. This surface was usually embellished with ornaments, figures or scenes. In this instance, the tympanum shows John the Baptist baptising Jesus Christ – and subsequently being beheaded on the orders of King Herod.

Fotos: © Heimatmuseum Lette