The Ascension Church
The first mention of the Ascension Church, or rather of the "Voznesenskiy minister Boris", refers to1646. It was unknown whether the church was stone or wooden at this time. Its first parishioners were blacksmiths and suburban state-owned peasants.
In 1712, Andrey Fedorovich Volodimerov (there is the surname variant "Vladimirov") and other clergy funded the construction of a new stone building. Until 1744, the church was "in the prosperous strongholds, adorned with all the splendor of the Church". There wasn't only a side chapel to serve an early liturgy, and the clergy found it necessary to ask Right Reverend Savva to give them a church building charter to construct a side chapel in the name of the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple. Receiving a certificate and starting the construction of side chapel, the congregation found that the church building strongly seems decayed. In 1754, they reported to the Right Reverend Gavriil, that their church "is in a very dilapidated place concerning walls, vaults, and roof coating, so that service is done in it with great apprehension"; and offered to break the entire church with the unfinished side chapel and build a new two-storey one.
Construction of the current church lasted more than thirty years. In 1755, the altar was consecrated for the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple in the church lower storey. Due to lack of funds, the second floor and finishing continued until 1787. In 1774, the building under construction was damaged by a fire.
Such a long period of construction might explained a noticeable discrepancy of planar facades (in the classicism style) and sculpturesque forms of a light drum (in the Baroque style). The domes of the church were gilded, the roof was made of "white sheet iron". The upper church was consecrated in the name of the Lord's Ascension.
The church is about one and a half times less than the Nikola Zaretsky church, but it seems more monumental. This is facilitated by its high location, high pilaster (flat rectangular wall extensions), combining the main space into a single unit as well as a powerful dome on the high drum. Lush composition, facades decorative elements (ornamental decorations and angels), a faceted dome, an elegant crowning lantern, sophisticated architraves, oval windows of the second-storey level — all of these are Baroque motives. In the reference book "Vsya Tula i Tul'skaya guberniya [All Tula and Tula Governorate]" issued in 1925, in the section "Tul'skiye zdaniya kak istiricheskiye pamyatniki [Tula Buildings as historic monuments]", the style of the Ascension Church is defined as "the St.Petersburg Baroque."
Researcher of Tula architecture V. N. Uklein praised the church: "Without exaggeration and without discounts on provincialism, you can say that the architecture of the final part of the Ascension Church is the most beautiful one by forms, rich on sculptural elements, outstanding by the creative potential of its author among all extant monuments in Tula of the first-class Baroque."
General splendor of the construction, complicated plan, whimsical pilaster sides of trabeation, non-loadbearing columns and Baroque faceted dome could serve as an example of an ornamental Baroque techniques. Settled with a rare imagination and elegance, crowning lantern is amazing.
The icons of the church belonged to the paintbrush of the famous Tula painter of the time, merchant Gregoriy Ivanovich Belousov. The icons, which he wrote for the iconostasis of the Dormition Cathedral of the Tula Kremlin, have survived to our day.
In 1824, funded by the merchant Ivan Ivanovich Volodimerov, the side chapel in the name of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara was arranged on the ground floor.
During the terrible Tula fire in 1834, the iconostasis of the upper church with Belousov's icons burned and was rebuilt only in 1844. The former iconostasis was much richer than the new one as it had four tiers and was completely gilded with pure gold. The new one had only two tiers, and they were carvings and columns that were gilded. In the lower church, iconostasis was also replaced by a new one by merchant Pyotr Ivanovich Volodimerov's funds.
The church's most cherished shrines included: Icon of the Sorrowful Mother of God (an exact copy with wonderfully proclaimed icon in St. Petersburg in 1888), Icon of the Great Martyr Barbara and part of the relics of Great Martyr Panteleimon.
The bell tower, which was built at the same time as the church, was not as ornate as the church, quite simple. In Ascension parish, in an area called "Novyy Khopyor" there was a stone chapel built in 1878 by petty bourgeois Kutepov in memory of the liberation of the state-owned gunsmiths from compulsory labour in the Weapons Factory starting from 1867. The Ascension almshouse was mentioned in the cases of Tula department of public charities in 1782.
In 1863, the "Tul'skiye eparkhial'nyye vedomosti [Tula Diocesan Gazette]" reported that there was a stone almshouse in the Ascension Church, "rather shabby outside and poor inside."
In 1883, parochial school was opened in the church.
The Ascension Church was closed in the early 1930s. The bell tower was destroyed in the late 1930s. The Ascension Church is a monument of history and culture of federal importance. The building was placed under the state security in 1960, pursuant to a decree of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR.
In 1961, in the former church there was a workshop "Soyuzshakhtoosusheniya".
In 1992 Voznesenskaya church [Ascension Church] was returned to the Tula diocese.
Today's shrines of the church are a particle of the relics of Great Martyr Barbara, an icon with a particle of the relics of Reverend Barsanuphius, Confessor of Chersonese.
Since March 20, 2008, a city missionary centre has been operating in the church by decision of the Diocesan Council. The church operates the Center for assistance and rehabilitation of victims of totalitarian and destructive sects and cults. Ascension Church became the scientific and methodological center for the newly created institute of rural dean aides of Tula diocese for missionary service.
Source: N. Kirilenko, Tul'skiye eparkhial'nyye vedomosti [Tula Diocesan Gazette] No. 6 (95), June, 2009
V.N. Uklein "Tula – kamennaya letopis'[Tula is a stone chronicle]", 1984.