Victorian funerals tended to be grandiose occasions,
including processions of carriages, the hearse and many
followers, and, knowing Larnach's love of display, this would
probably have been no exception.
The coffin would have to have been stored somewhere cool,
perhaps at the undertakers' premises, until the vault was
ready to take it. The Larnachs' undertaking firm, H. Gourley,
was incorporated into the present day firm of Gillions but
they do not appear to have records of this time.
However, Derek Hope, whose family members have been funeral
directors in Dunedin for four generations, confirms this
would have been the case here as well. Prof Curl says it was
illegal to remove a coffin from the cemetery after the
funeral in Britain, although it is not certain whether this
was the case in New Zealand as well.
In British cemeteries coffins could be stored in a temporary
vault or a mausoleum, possibly at the undertakers' premises
or in a temporary tomb or catacomb until the family vault was
ready, he said. The record of Larnach's purchase of three
adjacent burial plots was dated December 8, 1880, although
the actual purchase may have been earlier.
Despite the 1972 brouhaha about the state of the tomb, which
had been triggered by a letter to the editor of the ODT in
the news doldrums of early January, it had obviously been
damaged "some considerable time" earlier, according to
In fact, the dilapidated state of the tomb had been mentioned
in Parliament as early as the 1920s. This sparked a flurry of
letters in 1927 between the Public Works Department on behalf
of the War Graves Division of the Department of Internal
Affairs and the Dunedin town clerk, about the work that
needed to be done, including painting, cleaning, repairing
broken stained glass and slates, and renewing fallen finials
and rusted downpipes.
It appears not to have been desecrated at this stage.
However, the city, which owned the cemetery, disclaimed
responsibility for the upkeep of private memorials, there was
no legal authority for spending public money on private
monuments, the Larnach estate had no funds to repair it,
there were no descendants in Dunedin, and the only remaining
son, Douglas Larnach, was not in affluent circumstances, so
nothing seems to have been done.
A report in the Evening Star (December 4, 1953)
reports damage to the tomb - broken windows, the lid wrenched
off one of the coffins and the railing outside badly damaged,
although it had not been done recently.
According to Margaret Barker, Larnach's granddaughter,
Colleen Pedersen, paid for some maintenance on several
occasions, but could not afford to keep up with the continual
damage caused by vandals.
She more than once paid for leadlight replacements of the
original stained glass, which had been "of the same quality
and style as the glass work in the castle", Ms Pedersen said
from Auckland before she died, according to stained glass
artist Peter MacKenzie, who has researched the tomb's stained
glass for possible restoration.
Lack of funds for upkeep and repair is a continuing problem.
Some work appears to have been done about 1950 or perhaps in
the 1960s, although details are hard to come by.