Visit Launceston and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Launceston, Cornwall, stands on a hill crowned by the ruins of its castle; it is impressive at first sight from the east and north. Till 1838 it was the county's capital. Its fine site gained a settlement early, Celtic, then West Saxon. The present town is an agricultural centre with a weekly market and little other industry. It is attractive in an ancient way with narrow streets, many interesting, and a few beautiful, buildings, and is surrounded by picturesque rivers.
Most interesting features are within a short walk of the main square. Outstanding is St Mary Magdalene's Church, unique in that, except for the l4th-century tower, its outside walls are entirely covered with carvings.
It was built 1511-24, and contains a fine pulpit, probably early 16th-century.
What exists of the castle probably dates from the early 13th century, replacing an earlier Norman castle. Its main action seems to have been fought during the Civil War when, surprisingly, for it looks to have been almost impregnable, it changed hands four times. The view from the top is quite good. In a room close to its north gate George Fox, the Quaker leader, was shut up for eight months in 1656 for distributing “subversive” literature. On the greensward below, people were publicly hanged till 1821.
Just north east of the castle, in Castle Street, is one of the best rows of Georgian red-brick houses in Cornwall. One, Lawrence House, was a rendezvous for French officer-prisoners on parole during the Napoleonic Wars.
The grand South Gate, spanning a main street, is almost all that remains of the wall built round the town during Henry VIII's reign. The cattle and sheep market is about 100 yards outside it; just inside a plaque marks the birth-house of the Governor of New South Wales from 1800 to 1806, who caused Launceston in Tasmania to be so named.
In the Square, the wriggly building on the south corner was the home of the town's mayor in 1555, and the White Hart Hotel incorporates a doorway from the Augustinian priory that existed at the village of St Thomas from 1127 to 1538.
The 15th-century St Thomas's Church has an exceptionally large and fine example of a Norman font. A medieval footbridge crosses the river and leads to the village of St Stephen, thought older than Launceston itself. Its church tower is conspicuous from the castle top.
About 4 miles south is Trecarrel, the manor house of Henry Trecarrel, which has a 16th-century hall and chapel of great charm.
And about 4 miles north east is Wortham Manor, 15th-century with earlier parts.
Nearby cities: Plymouth
Nearby towns: Bodmin, Bude, Hatherleigh, Holsworthy, Liskeard, Okehampton, Stratton, Tavistock
Nearby villages: Broadwoodwidger, Cross Green, Davidstow, Egloskerry, Gunnislake, Lifton, Liftondown, South Pertherwin, St Giles on the Heath, St Stephens, Trebursye
Have you decided to visit Launceston or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Launceston bed and breakfast (a Launceston B&B or Launceston b and b)
- a Launceston guesthouse
- a Launceston hotel (or motel)
- a Launceston self-catering establishment, or
- other Launceston accommodation