Kirk Clough

Kirk Clough is a discreet little farm by which one passes when walking from Barnoldswick to chapel. One saunters by the house over field or past its driveway if going on Brogden Lane. The modern name stone has always intrigued me; I do not know if the stylised figure is meant to represent an alien or a more ancient form. The earliest reference to the farm I can find is 1766 though of the house’s architecture I could see little on account of trees planted about its border; neither can I find an online description, such as a historical listing. Curiously, there are some references to there being a domestic nuclear bomb shelter in its grounds. Still, the name intrigues me.

Kirk is an old work for church and is still in common usage in Scotland, especially when referring to Presbyterianism or the Church of Scotland. Clough refers to a ravine or a steep valley. It is sometimes used interchangeably with glen or gorge. So why did the two words go together? Why name a farm after ‘Church in the valley’. I doubt such an ecclesiastical institution ever met here. I suspect the land there belonged to the church before the reformation, and tenants farmed it on behalf of the abbots of Sawley, Whalley or Kirkstall.  

Valleys are attractive places to view and visit as well as sheltered, fertile places to farm. The rivers and streams on their bottom often carry rich silts from which the farmer may harvest an abundant crop. Valleys, however, are not always positive places in the Bible. In Numbers 14:25, we read 

Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valley.

David speaks of walking through ‘through the valley of the shadow of death’. Joel describes the ‘Valley of Decision’, a place wherein God judges the nations. I wonder if that hidden little farm betwixt Barlick and Middop is an apt picture of the Kirk of Jesus Christ. Among the death, shadow and darkness, she dwells. Among the Canaanites and Amalekites, she suffers. In the place of coming judgement and destruction, she proclaims gospel mercy and saving grace. So before we receive our summons to Mount Zion, may we dwellers of the dark valley say with David:

“I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” Psalm 22:22.

And may we sing:


I’m pressing on the upward way,

New heights I’m gaining every day;

Still praying as I onward bound,

“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”


Lord, lift me up, and let me stand

By faith on Canaan’s tableland;

A higher plane than I have found,

Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.