Petitions Column (Kolomenskoye)

The column, an architecture monument of the XVII century, stood near the main façade of the originalPalaceofTsar Alexey Mikhailovichthat has not been preserved. According to legends it was the place where petitions were put such as complaints or requests written to the Tsar as well as announcing the Tsar’s orders and verdicts. During theSoviet Uniontime a sun-clock was installed there, that is why it was alternatively known as the Clock Column.

The Petitions Column is a cylindrical structure built of big blocks (31х14.5х8.5 cm). It is103 cmhigh, the diametre of the central part is75 cmand the height of the socle is23 cm.

The construction of the Petitions Column is associated with the construction of thePalaceofTsar Alexey Mikhailovichin 1667-1670. Scientists presume that the Petitions Column was built at that time closer to the south-eastern part of the palace.

The Petitions Column was first noted on the Tsar’s Courtyard plan made presumably in the 1740s by Friederich Berkholz, gentleman of the bedchamber in the retinue of the Duke of Holstein. In the plan legend translated into Russian this column was mentioned as ‘pole for orders and announcements’. Though some mistakes were made in translation, the functions of the column were given right.

On the extant archive plan made in the second half of the XVIII century the location of the Petitions Column is noted.

The only written evidence proving the existence of the Petitions Column is the register of the Kolomenskoye estate made in the 1760s that was referred to by restorer Igor Makovetsky as an archival resource. A drawing of the petitions column made by Friederich Gilferding, theatrical decorator fromGermany, belonged to the same period. The extant engraving in two variants is the only genuine picture of thePalaceofTsar Alexey Mikhailovichmade from nature not so long before its deconstruction. In the south-eastern part of the palace, by the window of the Tsar’s rooms, Gilferding depicted the Petitions Column, a not very tall flowerpot-shaped structure with steps and a round top surrounded by a row of poles. Scientists presume that at that time the column was no longer executing its functions but was preserved more like a monument of the past times.

During the Patriotic War of 1812 French troops deployed on the territory of the present Kolomenskoye and caused significant damage. It is at that time that the column could have been destroyed.

In the mid-1820s, a revival period started in the history of the Kolomnskoye estate. Beautification of the estate territory started together with new construction works. At that time, a new Petitions Column was installed, but it was made of another material and in a different shape. A watercolour drawing of the XIX century stored at the museum-reserve and attributed to F. Solntsev (the authorship is disputable), as well as an anonymous blueprint of the same period stored at the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts, both depicting the palace of the XVII century, must  be reproducing the modern version of the Petitions Column that differs from that on the engraving by Gilferding: it is a cylindrical brick structure that has a bigger round plate on the top and stands on a multistep pedestal.

In 1872, historian Ivan Zabelin who was working on a great research Family Life of Russian Tsars in the XVII and XVIII Centuries and was often visiting the Kolomenskoye estate supposed that this monument of the XVII century was built not for petitions but for installing sun-clock as it was built in the Tsar’s Courtyard where common people were denied access (Streltsy watch-guard was located near the Front Gate). This hypothesis was supported by a famous art historian Vladimir Zgura and was popular during theSoviet Union period. At the end of the 1920s restoration and examination of the ancient monument of the estate started under the supervision of Peter Baranovsky. During the reconstruction of the column Baranovsky used extant drawings, in particular, a picture made in 1905 by I. Medvedev, a citizen of thevillage ofKolomenskoye. This picture shows the monument in a dilapidated state, with a missing top and significant destruction of the brickwork.

At the beginning of the 1930s Baranovsky brought to life the idea of Zabelin about the sun-clock. Unfortunately, graphical documents of that period have not been preserved. The picture made in 1956 indicates that the restoration works were held, however, no serious changes were made in the appearance of the Petitions Columns.

During the restoration works of the 2000s the front surface of the brickwork was restored and a paving of artificial white stone was made along the perimeter of the column. This appearance of the column has been preserved till our days.