History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 11th century Launceston Castle
HistoryOne of the earliest written records of Launceston comes from the reign of Ethelred the Unready, when a mint was established here. Launceston was the administrative centre for Cornwall from the 13th century, but it was never actually designated the county town.
Tradition suggests that Launceston gained importance because JPs and other government officials did not feel safe travelling any deeper into Cornwall. This seems unlikely, and it is much more probable that poor transportation made Launceston a more viable centre for administration. when roads improved in the 18th century government officials moved to Bodmin, which became the county town.
The great hall was used for centuries as an Assize Hall, and the castle was used to hold important prisoners. Perhaps the most famous prisoner to be held at Launceston was George Fox, founder od Quakerism, who was kept prisoner here for 8 months in 1656. During the Civil War the castle was occupied by Royalist troops, but the defences were in such a poor state that Parliament did not think it necessary to slight the castle after the war. It is now in the care of English Heritage.
Southgate ArchLaunceston was surrounded by a town wall in the medieval period. Three gates allowed entry to the town. Of these only one remains; Southgate Arch. In the 16th century a pair of rooms were added over the arch, and in the 19th century crenellations were added to the parapet to give it a more martial appearance.
St Mary Magdalene ChurchThe parish church for Launceston was built from 1511 under the patronage of Sir Henry Trecarrel of Trecarrel to replace an earlier 14th century building. Sir Henry was moved to pay for a new church when his young son died whilst in the bath. The church is decorated with ornate granite carvings originally intended for Trecarrel's new house. Just as elaborate is the 18th century organ, encased in a superbly carved wooden case. The oldest part of the church is the 14th century tower.
Address: Launceston, Cornwall, England
Attraction Type: Town
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Launceston Castle - 0.2 miles (Castle)
Lawrence House Museum - 0.3 miles (Museum)
Launceston, St Mary Magdalene Church - 0.3 miles (Historic Church)
Launceston Priory - 0.5 miles (Abbey)
Egloskerry, St Petrock & St Keri Church - 3.8 miles (Historic Church)
Bradstone, St Nonna's Church - 4 miles (Historic Church)
Tamar Otter & Wildlife Centre - 4 miles (Family Attraction)
North Petherwin, St Paternus Church - 4.4 miles (Historic Church)
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