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Larnach's Tomb

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  • Larnach's Tomb

    This is a bit of a follow-up to my previous post in this forum. Larnach built himself a rather nice house, and when it came to building a tomb he didn't fool around any either. The mausoleum stands in Dunedin's Northern Cemetery in an area known as millionaires' row. They are big plots, and Larnach had to buy three of them to erect the monument. It was designed by architect R.A. Lawson as a partial replica of Dunedin's First Church.
    It could perhaps be described as Larnach's own personal "Taj Mahal", as he built it as a memorial to his beloved first wife Eliza, who died suddenly in 1880 and now rests within, along with Larnach himself and other members of the family. Over the years the tomb suffered through neglect, and, sadly, repeated acts of vandalism and arson. Stained-glass windows were smashed, mullions broken and some of the stonework destroyed.
    Now, however, after years of dedicated work by the Friends of Larnach's Tomb, assisted by the Historic Cemeteries Conservation Trust, the tomb has been restored to it's former glory, as can be seen in the video below.
    Last edited by albalad; 11 June 2014, 02:35. Reason: embed code didn't work

  • #2
    Re: Larnach's Tomb

    Is Larnach a sept of the Sutherland Clan? I noticed the inclusion of the Sutherland Clan motto "Sans Peur".




    • #3
      Re: Larnach's Tomb

      I believe part of the MacLaren clan.



      • #4
        Re: Larnach's Tomb

        Hugh, I believe Alastair is correct - in the clan lists I have, only one of them mentions the name Larnach and there they are claimed as a sept by clan MacLaren. I don't know of any connection with clan Sutherland. However you will have noticed that the interior of the tomb contains several other mottos including, as you point out, the motto of clan Sutherland "sans peur" (fearless) but oddly NOT the motto of clan MacLaren, "Creag an Tuirc", which looks like it should mean something to do with a rock (sorry, I haven't much of the Gaelic.) Larnach built the tomb for his wife Eliza whose maiden name was Guise, so if that family was associated with clan Sutherland there could be a connection there - I just don't know.
        My own opinion is that Larnach chose these mottos not because of any clan associations, but just because they sounded grandiose and "upper-crust" since these attributes (or a longing for them) were part of his mental make-up.
        Hope some of this is enlightening, Hugh!
        Regards, John.


        • #5
          Re: Larnach's Tomb

          Hi John, I enjoyed your link, rather a sad ending for the man and family. I wonder if the 'cause' was ever known ?

          Not a lot sneaks past Alastair.... lol

          From the ES top menu, have a look at 'Clans and Families' there is a wealth of links there..... enjoy



          • #6
            Re: Larnach's Tomb

            Thanks, Ranald - I have since followed up some of these links and found another clan list also giving Larnach as a sept of MacLaren. I also found that the Larnach family have their own webpage which is here:


            Apparently they are also associated historically (way back) with clans Stuart and McGregor. Just to confuse things the name Larnoch has about a dozen variant spellings, so I'll leave it up to a far better genealogist than I am!
            Unfortunately Larnach's troubles didn't end with his death. This should have been a part of the original post but I forgot to include it, so I'll add it here as a footnote just to bring the Larnach story to a close.
            In the mid 1960's the tomb was yet again broken into. The floor above the underground crypt was torn up, Larnach's coffin prised open and the remains removed and scattered about the cemetery grounds. A woman walking her dog in the cemetery was shocked to find some of the remains laid out on the path in the form of a skull and crossbones.
            The remains were gathered up by sexton Jack McLeod with the help of police and returned to the coffin, with one exception - Larnoch's skull was missing.
            A search was immediately underway, but there was no sign of the skull. It remained missing until 1972 when, acting on information recieved, police searched the flat of Dunedin historian Peter Entwisle - and there was the skull. It was identified as Larnoch's by the location of the bullet-hole; Larnach shot himself through the forehead, while his son shot himself through the jaw from below. Here is an extract from the Otago Daily Times:

            "I didn't steal Larnach's bloody skull, but people believe that I did, so that's the bottom line. And I certainly had a skull, that's for sure, and that's not a crime," he said in a recent interview... Although he had kept the remains, occasionally polishing them and showing them to friends, he had not mutilated them, so there was no improper interference."

            He said that he had been given the skull by a friend, who he declined to name. He was charged in the Dunedin Magistrate's Court, but the case was dismissed
            The skull was returned to the tomb by police (in a hatbox) and replaced in Larnach's coffin. The floor above the crypt has now been concreted over and a sophisticated lighting and security system installed, so now William Larnoch and his family can finally Rest in Peace.

            (Well, there's still the ghost at the castle...)


            • #7
              Re: Larnach's Tomb

              I must say the discussion is going well and Jhon has shared good information. I really like your way of posting because in this way I got many new things about Larnach's Tomb that was totally new for me.
              albalad ! Do you agree that there's still the ghost at the castle?
              Get more info on popular streets of the world.


              • #8
                Re: Larnach's Tomb

                Well, I have been in the "haunted room" many times and seen nothing, Jacky - but you could watch this footage and decide for yourself!

                - John.