St Michael's Church, Skelton

Inside St Michael’s Church at Skelton, near Greystoke in Cumbria, are two large arches. The one under the tower is pointed; the one leading to the chancel, rounded. Rounded arches were fashionable before pointed ones; the former suggests a Norman, Saxon or even Roman origin; pointed suggests thirteenth or fourteenth century. Yet the rounded arch is made of smooth stones as though it were more recent, lacking the wearing that one might expect of a 900-year-old structure.

Historic England’s listing records speaks of a rebuilding project back in 1794; it is likely that those Georgian builders either replaced the older arch with something of the same style, or they wished to retain the chancel’s ancient heritage. Thus, the pointed arch is considerably older than the rounded arch, contrary to architectural norms.

Sometimes that which appears old is rather novel, and that which appears new is rather ancient. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ has a heritage that predates the human mind. All other theories, religions, salvations and philosophies are the product of manmade thought; they might appear sagacious, tried and tested, but they are lamb dressed as mutton.

Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Isaiah 46:10