Arches of Westbury

An aunt of mine is a member of the Westbury Choral Society down in Wiltshire. I attended one of their rehearsals and was impressed by the wonderful harmonies. The leader was an exacting taskmaster, which is likely the chief cause of their pleasing quality. While enjoying their sounds, both religious and secular, I was able to admire the premises in which they met: the local Methodist chapel. Unlike many, it is both a twentieth-century construction and is still open for worship. Much as I find modern Methodism’s theological positions highly questionable, I can still admire its architecture, which bespeaks a better age and happier times.

Despite its modern provenance, the building boasts an unusually high number of archways, tastefully painted and beautifully lit. Medieval buildings make much use of this architectural feature, but for the 1920s it is more a luxury or flourish than an engineering requirement.

In Ezekiel chapter 40, when the prophet describes a new temple, the meaning of which is subject to much dispute, he mentions archways at least a dozen times. Whether this makes its markedly different to Solomon’s Temple, I cannot tell. Whether it describes an earthly temple used for the period of Christ’s future reign, or whether it is a metaphorical picture of the believers’ perfected worship of God under the new covenant, we can argue and debate. Suffice to say, this great temple with archways is even more impressive that Westbury’s Methodist chapel- which is impressive enough.

Heaven's arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

E.S. Elliot