History

Keila Church is the biggest medieval country church in Harju county, which was obviously established shortly after the North-Estonias subjection to the Danish king. There is no information about the early years of the church, but at about 1280 there was established a spacious square chapel at "Keila hill", where today there is the chancel of the church. Fragments of the paintings at the chancel walls date possibly from this period already.

The main body of the church remained unbuilt at the beginning and was obviously established at the first half of the 14th century. As the influence of the Dominican order, the main body of the church was simple unvaulted box-like building. There where no windows at the northern wall. The only entrance was in the western wall and the ashlar-framing of the door is similar to the one in the Tallinn Dome Church.

There was a tetragonal console tower on the facade above the main entrance, which has inside the steeple partly remained until this day.

Until 1452 was Keila church a subject to Tallinn Dome Church, after that to Dome commandery. Change in relationship of subordination involved some bigger reconstructions at the end of the 15th, beginning of 16th century. Works were lead by stonemason Peter and bricklayer Merten from Tallinn.

First the massive west-tower was built. Three-sided ending was added to the chancel, it was re-vaulted and altar table of stone was made. In 1480 southern portal was established. In 1489 the church was vaulted and it became two-aisled, which is rather seldom in Estonian churches.

The first references to organ in Keila church date back to that period. There is a remark in an accounting book from 1472-1553, which has by wonder been preserved, that in 1482 there was payed 44 ½ marks to organ master Oly for the work completed. The accounting book consists also information about church property and of that we can see, that the church was very rich at that time. There were f. ex. four altars in the church; on the main altar there was the statue of Virgin Mary with Jesus child, they had velvet garments and golden crowns on. Church had also a tiny library consisting of three liturgical books.

The church of Keila was destroyed at the Livonian War in 1558 and the interior was stolen. Church was restored to the year 1596.

Interior of the church today dates back to much later period. Remarkable is the renaissance altar, which was made at the workshop of a master in Tallinn, Tobias Heintze. The altar was as a present from Saku and Sausti landlords Bernhard von Scharenberg and Anna von Rosen in 1632. Pulpit is also made at the workshop of T. Heintze; gifted by landlords from Klooga manor - von Klugen's.

On the wall of chancel unique painting "Jacobs Dream" is hanging, which is remembrance from pastor Morian from the 17th century and which was used in catechism teaching. Provost Antonius Heidrich wrote also a study-book to the painting, but it was unfortunately never printed.

There is interesting collection of chandeliers in the church, the most interesting one is hanging in front of the pulpit. There is German text on in telling: "Anno 1659. When Anthonius Heidrich from Tallinn was priest here, Kohna Iahn had to give this chandelier to Keila or St. Michael's church to the honor of God and remembrance of Lambapeh Ivrri whome he had killed by accident."

In 1839 new organ was ordered from Walckers workshop in Ludwigsburg in Germany, which was placed to church in 1843. The organ was the first Kegellade-system organ outside from Germany. Obviously the organ was rebuilt by August Terkmann in 1914; organ became twice as big and was placed from the northern balcony to the western balcony. In 1997 the organ was renovated, which was supported by the local government, companies and private persons.

The church got its external form no later than 1851, when a pseudo-Gothic rose window (author J. G. Exner from Tallinn, restored in 1991) was placed into the southern wall and the steeple was decorated with arch motifs and symbols of the evangelists. Internal reconstructions ended in 1939, when the still working air-heating system was completed.

In the church yard the peasant ring-crosses from the 17th century are most remarkable. Four of those have remained on their original place, two are placed into church entrance hall. Ring-crosses are witnesses of the wealthy life of Swedish-time peasants. To compare: there are no gravemarks from after Northern War in the yard, just from the second quarter of 19th century the first monumental lime-stone peasant crosses date back to.

There are several chapels in the graveyard, which have been built after 1772, when it was no longer allowed to burry into churches. Most monumental of them is the one of Vääna landlords, von Stackelberg's, which has followed the example of Greek tempel. Several important persons for the Estonian culture are burried to the graveyard. Littérateur Otto Reinhold von Holtz (1757-1828); translated peasant laws from 1816 into Estonian, published several didactic storybooks. Estonian conductor and componist Otto Hermann (1878-1933), was the musical manager of "Estonia" theatre in 1906-08. Carl Friedrich von Rehbinder, founder of Saku brewery in 1820.

The pastor of Keila in 1906-21 was Jakob Kukk, who was elected as the first Estonian bischop in Estonia in 1919.

Today the Congregation of Keila is a middle-size Estonian congregation with a little less than 600 members. Besides Sunday services there is children- and youthwork (Sunday school, youth group work and confirmation lessons are taking place) There are three choirs in the congregation. Bible-studies and tea-afternoons take place.