Ordsall Hall

I recently called at Ordsall Hall in Salford. There, among modern council housing and light industrial units, sits an ancient medieval/Tudor mansion. As we walked to it from our bus stop, we began to doubt whether such a place could be located in such a busy, concrete metropolis. Sure enough, in modest grounds populated by the most vivid tulips, sat that venerable manor house. It was once the home of one of Lancashire’s two MPs, as well as several of the county’s High Sheriffs. Now it is a quiet museum, a queer relic, a refreshing contrast to the steel and glass of the neighbourhood.

A view of a housing estate from the sixteenth-century bay oriel window

Even the sleekest, most modern church buildings bespeak an ancient truth, a prehistoric principle, a timeless declaration older than the hills. This we call the gospel, the great plan of salvation wrought in the halls of heaven before ever a molecule or atom was willed into existence. Today, churches of whatever architectural frame are perceived as old fashioned and out of date, like the old Salford mansion nestling among the new housing estates and warehouses of Greater Manchester. Unlike the old house, however, the gospel is always relevant and necessary, and will be the talk of New Jerusalem for ages to come.

Lord, thou art made a help to us; from generation into generation. Before that hills were made, either the earth and the world was formed; from the world and into the world, thou art God. Turn thou not away a man into lowness; and thou saidest, Ye sons of men, be turned again. Thou hast turned people back to the lowness from whence they came; yea, thou sayest, Ye sons and daughters of men, return to dust. For a thousand years be before thine eyes; as yesterday, which is passed, and as keeping in the night. Psalm 90:1-4, John Wycliffe's translation.