The stone Assumption Church was built in 1804 “at the initiative of the local parish (with the support of the Most Righteous Emperor Alexander I and with the blessing of the Most Reverend Metropolitan Gavriil of Novgorod and St Petersburg) on the site of a run-down wooden church.” The church had three side chapels, a summer (cool) side chapel dedicated to the Assumption of the Mother of God, and a warm chapel with two altars, in honour of St Nicholas the Wonderworker and St Paraskeva Pyatnitsa.
Mother Liya Vasilyeva laid down the history of the church in an article titled “The Assumption Church in Pogost Sablyo of the Batetsky District”, published in the Sofia magazine, the first issue of 2012: “According to the hierarchy approved at the highest level on 15 May 1843, the church was assigned the 3rd class and was directly supervised by the Novgorod Consistory. In 1915, the church had two priests, one deacon and two psalm readers. The church property included 154 desyatinas and 96 square sazhens of land, a school, a two-storey wooden house, a guard house and a firewood shed. The parish “originally consisted of landowners and the majority of local peasants, or 1,500 men and 1,600 women residing in the local villages traditionally included in the parish.” The parishioners made generous donations to maintain and improve the cathedral. Colleagiate councillor from a noble family Alexander Zelenin donated large sums and expensive gifts.
In 1899, the warm side chapel was rebuilt thanks to the help of local landowners and parishioners. The Assumption Church itself remained unchanged.” The warm and cool side chapels were “connected to the belfry on a single foundation and covered with a pitched metal roof.” A passage was built from the summer chapel to “the more spacious” winter chapel. On 15 July 1900, Archbishop Theognostus of Novgorod and Staraya Russa visited the rebuilt church, after which, on 16 August, the Novgorod Spiritual Consistory issued an order of gratitude to priest Yevgeny Ostroumov for his hard work to expand the church. The Assumption Church comprises the main building, a refectory and a belfry with a spire, all connected together. The main building, a cool church, is a two-storey quadrangle with an octagon on top and one lowered altar apsis. The partitions of the octagon have built-in windows to let in daylight. The octagon has a faceted dome with a lantern topped with an iron roof. “The roof is adorned with a cast-iron gilded cross on an ‘apple’.” The Assumption Church has a simple and neat architectural design. Porticoes are attached to the main building on the northern and southern sides. The refectory walls are “decorated with protracted cornices and semi-circular recesses over windows. The brick walls are whitewashed without plaster.” The winter side chapel is heated with four furnaces and connects to the two-level belfry. Almost unchanged since the late 19th century, this is the Assumption Church we know today. The interior of the cool section of the church is particularly noteworthy. “In the eastern part of the main building, there is an altar separated from the rest of the space by a bearing wall and an iconostasis.” The carved gilded two-level iconostasis has been fully preserved until today. This type of iconostases shaped like a triumphal arch are known to be especially grand and solemn. The colourful icons have generously decorated gilded frames. The Holy Doors with six medallions are framed by carved gilded pillars with Corinthian capitals. The life-size images of the Saviour and the Theotokos are placed on each side of the Holy Doors, with feast icons above them. The first level of the iconostasis is separated with a cornice and consists of patron and feast icons placed between the gilded pillars. Icons of the Deesis tier on the second level are placed at different heights forming a pyramid. At the top of the iconostasis, there is the Crucifix of Jesus icon, with oval compositions in carved cartouches on each side. The middle part of the altar partition has a recess. The cornices visually support a semi-circular arch with three icons depicting the Passion of Jesus: The Way of the Cross, the Last Supper and the Agony in the Garden of the Gethsemane. There are no exact records of when the main iconostasis was created. It is known that the icons were retouched by Novgorod icon painters in 1850. The framed iconostases of the St Nicholas Chapel and St Pareskeva Pyatnitsa Chapel have a simpler design than the main iconostasis. These iconostases have three tiers, for patron icons, feast icons and the Deesis tier. The icons were repainted in 1847.
Persecution of the church resumed in the 1960s. The Executive Committee of the Batetsky District Council of Deputies of the Novgorod Region issued a decision on 25 August 1961 to shut down the Assumption Church. At a general meeting of the Put Lenina Collective Farm, where the active Assumption Church was located at the time, it was decided that the church would be turned into school workshops. But thanks to active resistance of the religious community, the Assumption Church has been preserved until our time in its full grandeur. Today it is one of the most visited churches in the area.
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