About this church
Dedicated to St Wilfrid (634-709AD) most of the building dates back to 1336, when a chantry was founded by Sir William de Herle. Though small, St Wilfrid’s has much to discover.
This lovely church is essentially of one date, and is simply built with a chancel and nave. One of the most striking features is the excellent masonry, carefully squared and joints of the finest character. Many stones in the chancel have original mason’s marks, a direct link to the 14th century, and the craftsmen who built this church.
The chancel also has beautiful windows, three medieval sedilia (stone seats), a piscina (stone basin), aumbreys (recessed cupboards) and a priest’s door. There are also several monuments to the Loraine family.
Having fallen into disrepair, the church was restored in the early 15th century by the daughters of William Del Strother, owner of Kirkharle. When one of these daughters, Johanna, married Edward Loraine, ownership passed to him.
The 15th or 16th century font was rescued from the medieval church of All Saints, Newcastle and bears the arms on each of its eight sides of old Northumbrian families.
In the 18th century Thomas Loraine timbered the chancel with Irish oak and roofed it with lead. His son Sir William added the west gable, porch and bell cope, and covered the earthen floor with freestone flags. In the late 1780s, the lead roof was replaced by one of blue slate.
This period also saw Kirkharles most famous son born, there is a monument to him in the nave. Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was born at Kirkharle. His exact date of birth is not known but he was baptised on 30th August 1716 in St Wilfrid’s Church in Kirkharle, the fifth of six children born to George and Ursula Brown. He remained at school until the age of 16 and then learnt his trade working on the Kirkharle Estate then owned by the Loraine family, who seem to have been very supportive of the Brown family and encouraged their talent.