The village was formerly named 'Herle' (recorded 1177) The element 'Herle' comes from the Old English "Herela-lea" which means "Herela's Grove" or "herg-leah" which means "temple-grove". Other early forms included Kyrkeherle (c.1250), Kyrkherll (1346) and Kirkehirle (1428). Its church has gained it the prefix 'kirk'.
Kirkharle Hall was a country house at Kirkharle, the former seat of the Loraine family, now much reduced and in use as a farmhouse.
A mile to the north of Kirkharle is Little Harle Tower, an 18th and 19th century mansion which incorporates a 15th or 16th century pele tower.
The current church, dedicated to St Wilfrid, was built in the fourteenth century. Among the quaint epitaphs in the church upon departed Loraines is the following:
Here lyes the Body of Richard Loraine, Esq., who was a proper handsome man of good sense and behaviour : he dy'd a Batcheler of an Appoplexy walking in a green field near London, October 26th, 1738, in the 38 Year of his Age.
Kirkharle's most famous son is Capability Brown the notable landscape gardener whose father was employed by the Loraines at Kirkharle Hall. The artist and fox hunter Charles Loraine Smith was born to a Loraine and adopted the name of Smith whist a boy.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- The Place-names of Northumberland and Durham, Cambridge University Press, pp. 128
- Beckensall, Stan. 'Northumbrian Place-Names: A Guide To The Meaning of Town And Village Names'. Butler Publishing 2004. ISBN 0-946928-41-X. Page 37
- Little Harle Tower - British Listed Buildings
- Robert Hugill (1931). Road Guide to Northumberland and The Border. Newcastle upon Tyne: Andrew Reid & Company, Limited. pp. 157–8.
- The surnames of Scotland: their origin, meaning, and history, George Fraser Black, New York Public Library, 1946, P.344