The rural market town of Launceston with it’s imposing castle high on the hill is home to attractions, markets, shops, arts and crafts. Known as Lannstevan in Cornish, meaning “church enclosure of St Stephen”. Famous for it’s architecture, narrow lanes & alleys, Launceston is also home to Castle Street, which Sir John Betjeman referred to as “the most perfect collection of 18th century town houses in Cornwall. It is roughly midway between the north coast of Cornwall (at Bude) and the south coast (at Saltash) This former capital of Cornwall is a great place to explore, and then unwind with a pasty.
From it’s excellent hilltop vantage point Launceston castle dates back to the Norman Conquest in the 13th century. Climb the top tower (via an internal staircase) for stunning far reaching views of the town and countryside. Launceston’s motto is Royale et Loyale for its faithfulness to the Cavalier cause in the English Civil War of the mid-17th century. It is run by English Heritage. Why not by a pasty from one of the many bakers in town and eat in the grounds of this heady piece of history.
Lawrence House Museum (currently closed 2021)
Spread over three floors and built in 1753 this intriguing museum has exhibits including a costume collection, a toy room (where children can play), and Launceston’s links with Australia. This is a child friendly museum with free admission. More details.
St Mary Magdalene Church
With it’s origins dating way back to the 12th century, this striking church is famous for it’s intricately carved granite exterior, which makes it one of the finest churches in Britain. There is a strange tradition at this church involving the carving of Mary on the exterior back wall. Visitors and locals have been seen throwing stones at Mary. The traditions states, that if you throw a stone and it lodges on Mary herself (depicted in a lying position in the carving), you will soon have new clothes given to you! We’ve tried, and sadly failed, it’s harder than it looks! There is a fun trail for children available inside.
Launceston’s Charles Causley Festival
The annual literary celebration of the poetry and works of this famous resident, is held in June. Living nearly his entire live in Launceston Charles Causley has been referred to as one of the very finest poets of the twentieth century. Here is the information.
Have a go at Launceston’s trail, hunt for clues as you follow on foot, by car or by bike. Suitable for all the family and a great wasy to explore and learn. Submit your answer online once you’ve completed it and win cash prizes. Check out the trail.
Launceston Castle is the starting point for two long distance walks, The Two Castles Trails between Launceston and Okehampton Castle, and the Tamar Valley Discovery Trail between Launceston and Plymouth
Launceston Tourist Information Centre is now located in the White Hart Arcade, Launceston. PL15 8AA