Eskilstrup Church built in the Romanesque style dates from the 12th century. It is best known for its frescos, said to be Denmark's oldest. At the beginning of the 16th century, the church was owned by the bishopric under the administration of its seat at Sørup on Lolland. In 1694, it was annexed to Ønslev Church, 3 km to the west. After the Reformation it came under the Crown until 1767 when it was sold into private ownership. It was, however, soon reacquired by the State until 1852 when its was sold to the farmers of the parish. It gained full independence in 1933.
The church consists of a Late Romanesque apse, chancel and nave and a Gothic tower and porch, all built of brick. Pilaster strips decorate the corners of the nave and chancel. The apse and chancel have a rounded foundation base. There is a three-sided wall at the east end of the apse while there are round-arched windows in the side walls. The toothed cornice is decorated a saw-toothed trimming which runs along pilasters to the chancel gabel. The nave walls are similarly decorated with cornices and pilasters. The chancel windows resemble those of the apse but they have been extended downwards.
The apse's original vaulting develops from a polygonal base to a quarter dome terminating in the rounded apse arch. During the Gothic period, the chancel ceiling was cross-vaulted while the chancel arch was widened and given a pointed top. The nave has retained a flat ceiling. The red brick tower on a fieldstone base has flat arched windows to the south and west. It opens into the nave through a large irregular arch. The Renaissance altarpiece (1617) is rather a rough piece of rural craftmanship. The large cornice is borne by two Ionic columns. The central painting by Stefan Viggo Pedersen (1926) depicts the announcement of Jesus' birth to the shepherds. Designed by Jørgen Ringnis, the intricately carved pulpit (1639) is in the Auricular style. With the four Evangelists in shell-framed panels, it closely resembles the pulpit in Lolland's Ryde Church. The pilasters have however been renewed during rebuilding work in 1805 although the cherub heads and ornamental decorations have been retained. The hexagonal canopy bears a dove at the top and angels' heads on the corners. The pulpit, staircase and canope are varnished but not coloured.
In 1893, frescos were discovered in the apse and chancel, dating to the second half of the 13th century. The chancel fresco, restored by E. Lind in 1942, includes scenes from Christ's childhood including the Flight to Egypt depicting Joseph, Mary and the ass. They are said to be among the oldest in the region.References:
The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.
In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.
The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.