Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Loraine Monument (NZ011824)

In the shadow of Kirkharle’s small but rather famous church of St.Wilfrid’s (baptism of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, et al) sits a curious monument dedicated to the memory of one Robert Loraine. This prominent local landowner and dignitary lived in the troubled days of the Border Reivers, and was known as ‘a zealous Prosecutor of Robbers, Thieves & Moss-Troopers’. He lived in Kirkharle Tower, and maintained a number of alliances with other families (notably the Fenwicks) as well as a large stock of arms and horses to help maintain law and order as best he could.

On day in 1483, however, Robert Loraine let his defences slip and was killed by a party of Scots who ‘lay in ambush between his house and the church… & in his return home, suddenly surprised and dragged him into an adjacent Close’. The attackers, determined to make an example of Loraine, cut his corpse up into tiny pieces, stuffed them into his horse’s saddlebags and set it loose to wander home.

The monument we see today to the chap known locally as ‘the unfortunate gentleman’ was erected in 1728 by a descendant, Sir William Loraine (the first employer of Capability Brown, actually), and replaced an earlier stone which had fallen into disrepair.