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Wednesday, 29 June 2005
Major Rammer


We came across this gravestone on the top of Boxhill on Saturday. The inscription reads

Peter Labelliere
aged 75
an eccentric resident
of Dorking was buried
here head downwards
11th July 1800

The first thing that intrigued me was the Major’s name. What is a labelliere? Someone who makes labels? A good guy? I am still no wiser, but according to my Larousse, a bélier (masculine) is a ram or battering ram, while a Bélier is the zodiac sign Aries.

With a bit of googling I managed to find some more information about this character. According to the Boxhill website:

About 100 metres to the west of the Old Fort, a standing stone commemorates the eccentric life of Major Peter Labelliere, an officer of Marines, who for many years was a resident of Dorking. An early 19th-century book called Promenade round Dorking relates that ‘in early life he fell in love with a lady, who, although he was remarkably handsome in person, eventually rejected his addresses - a circumstance which could not fail to inflict a deep wound on his delicate mind’. Having accurately prophesied the date of his death in 1800, Major Labelliere left two express wishes in his will: that the youngest son and daughter of his landlady should dance on his coffin, and that he should be buried upside down on Box Hill. ‘As the world is turned topsy-turvy,’ he reasoned (quite correctly, it might be argued), he would be the right way up in the end!

There are also reports that Boxhill is haunted by several ghosts, including that of the Major.

Boxhill features in the novel Emma by Jane Austen, which was published in 1815.

Posted by bigblue on 29/06/2005 at 09:24 PM
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