Horton in Craven Congregational Chapel

Last weekend, I arranged to visit Horton Congregational Chapel. It’s located in a small hamlet east of Gisburn and north of Barnoldswick, a stone’s throw from the A59. The place is special to we Martin Toppers; it was the minister and members here that helped form our own chapel in 1816.

From the outside, it promises little, being something of a plain-Jane. Once within, however, one soon repents of any previous snobbery. A huge pulpit dominates the room with pews and gallery facing it from three sides. These were a people who desired to hear the Word. And well they might have been. The fellowship originated in the 1670s and would have been subjected to cruel persecution. Their first formal building was erected in 1710, the current one the same year as our own- 1816.

Over the pulpit are the words:

This Chapel Opened Anno Domini 1816

Let no base Hireling here intrude,

To feed Thy Flock with poisonous food,

Kind Shepherd For Thy Flock prepare,

Pure Living Streams and Pastures Fair.

Come in ye Thirsty don’t delay,

Drink Wine and Milk from day to day,

Sweet Jesus calls you come away,

Flee now to Him this very Day.

Clearly written at a time before the Temperance Movement, but an accurate rendering of the liquid refreshment Isaiah was offering. The words over Salem’s pulpit are addressed to God’s glory and a desire for spiritual blessing. Horton’s address the elect’s need for good, spiritual food, and for sinners to turn to Christ without delay. In the 200 years since these words were erected, the meaning is just as true and urgent.

The chapel was known as ‘Higher Paradise’, which is pleasantly unusual. Sadly, it is not open on Sundays, save four during the year, such as Easter and Harvest. The surrounding households look after the place and were happy enough to have me look around.