LAUNCESTON (/ˈlɑːnstən/ LAHN-stən or /ˈlɔːnstən/
LAWN-stən , locally /ˈlænsən/ LAN-sən or /ˈlɑːnsən/
LAHN-sən , (Cornish : Lannstevan; (rarely spelled LANSON as a local
abbreviation) is a town, ancient borough, and civil parish in east
The town centre itself is bypassed and is no longer physically a main
thoroughfare. The A388 still runs through the town close to the
centre. The town remains figuratively the "gateway to Cornwall", due
to having the
A30 , one of the two dual carriageways into the county
pass directly next to the town. The other dual carriageway and
alternative main point of entry is at
Launceston Steam Railway narrow-gauge heritage railway runs as a tourist attraction during the summer months. It was restored for aesthetic and industrial heritage purposes and runs along a short rural route, it is popular with visitors but does not run for much of the year.
Launceston Castle was built by
Robert, Count of Mortain (half-brother
of William the Conqueror) c. 1070 to control the surrounding area.
Launceston was the caput of the feudal barony of Launceston and of the
Two civil parishes serve the town and its outskirts, of which the central more built-up administrative unit housed 8,952 residents at the 2011 census.
Three electoral wards include reference to the town, their total population, from 2011 census data, being 11,837 and two ecclesiastical parishes serve the former single parish, with three churches and a large swathe of land to the north and west part of the area.
Launceston's motto "Royale et Loyale" (English translation: Royal and
Loyal) is a reference to its adherence to the
* 1 History
* 1.1 Civil War * 1.2 Later history
* 2 Geography * 3 Administration * 4 Economy
* 5 Culture
* 5.1 Places of worship
* 6 Education * 7 Notable buildings * 8 Transport * 9 Notable residents * 10 References * 11 External links
The Cornish name of "Launceston", Lannstevan, means the "church enclosure of St Stephen" and is derived from the former monastery at St Stephen's a few miles north-west (the castle and town were originally named Dunheved) and the Common Brittonic placename element lan- . Dunheved was the Southwestern Brittonic name for the town in the West Saxon period.
The earliest known Cornish mint was at Launceston, which operated on
a minimal scale at the time of
Æthelred the Unready before Cornwall
received full diocesan jurisdiction in the year 994 AD. Only one
specimen is known to exist. In the reign of
William the Conqueror
Launceston Castle , in good repair, is a Norman motte-and-bailey
castle , and was built by
Robert, Count of Mortain (half-brother of
William the Conqueror) c. 1070 to dominate the surrounding area.
Launceston was the caput of the feudal barony of Launceston and of the
In Domesday Book (1086) it is recorded that Launceston was held by the Count of Mortain, and that he had his castle there. There was land for 10 ploughs, 1 villein and 13 smallholders with 4 ploughs, 2 mills which paid 40/- (£2 sterling) and 40 acres of pasture. The value of the manor was only £4 though it had formerly been worth £20.
The Roman Catholic martyr Cuthbert Mayne was executed at Launceston — a legacy of memorials and a church exists.
English Civil War
In 1643, the Parliamentarian forces under the command of Major General James Chudleigh advanced in an attempt to capture Launceston from the Royalists. The Royalist commander, Ralph Hopton, 1st Baron Hopton , stationed his forces on the summit of Beacon Hill, a steep hill which overlooks the town. The Parliamentarians captured the foot of the hill, but were unable to dislodge the Royalist forces from the top. Hopton led a counterattack down the hill and, despite fierce fighting and the arrival of Parliamentary reinforcements, forced Chudleigh's troops to retreat.
Launceston has the only document in the UK signed by Mary II of
Viscount Launceston was a title of nobility created in 1726 (as
Viscount of Launceston) but is now extinct. In the early 19th century,
Launceston gave its name to the settlement,
Prior's Bridge over the River Kensey
Launceston is a market town, castle, recreational and heritage
railway visitor town and the main shopping centre for the adjoining
rural areas of west
The suburb of Newport is recorded for the first time during the 13th
century. The natural advantages of the Launceston district had been
recognised by the Anglo-Saxon monks of St Stephen and by the Norman
Launceston is connected to the
A30 trunk route, a dual carriageway
bypass carrying its road traffic south of the town. The bypass crosses
Launceston civil parish comprises the town whereas St Stephens by Launceston Rural civil parish covers all outskirts, save for those south of the town. These each convene to discuss events funding, recreational funding and general planning matters.
Stourscombe SSSI, a geological
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Town Hall the area included in the borough of Launceston was
considerably extended to enable the franchise to be opened up. It
finally lost its right to separate representation in 1885. It is now
part of the North
Launceston was once regarded as the capital of
The arms of the town are Gu. a triple circular tower in a pyramidical form Or the first battlements mounted with cannon of the last, all within a bordure Az. charged with eight towers domed on the second. A badge was granted on 26 Mar 1906, being the first ever granted to a civic body: A keep or castle Gold.
Launceston is twinned with Plestin-les-Grèves in Brittany, France.
The outskirts of Launceston host some large retail businesses with convenience, niche and fine weather tourist-catering commerce in the town centre. The three main industrial estates are Pennygillam, Scarne and Newport. The town has benefited from immigrants from primarily Eastern European countries. This has allowed the town to sustain its primary industries, which it might not otherwise have been able to support due to the low population.
Launceston is located on the
A30 trunk road into
The town has several restaurants, cafés, take aways and a number of pubs. There are fewer pubs than in the Victorian era, a national trend with the larger ones tending to survive which specialise in their food, others of which provide live music events on a weekly basis. Launceston has one nightclub located at Pennygillam.
A tucking mill was established in the 15th century by the Flemings in the north of the town (Newport), water-powered, continuing in use for corn until 1968. A manuscript left by Richard Robbins (died 1910) records eight tanneries in the town in the 19th century. A mechanics' institute was founded in 1847 at the Central Subscription Room. The gasworks was established as early as 1834 by Waygood & Porter of Beaminster .
The Duchy Originals company first manufactured its products in 2006 by opening a factory in Launceston making sweet and savoury pastry products but made a loss of £447,158 in the financial year 2006/7. During 2009 the bakery in Launceston was sold at a loss, contributing to the Duchy Originals company making a loss for 2009 - 10.
The Natural Fibre Company (TNFC) is a British wool mill based in Launceston and is the only small-scale full range textile mill in the UK. The main focus of the business is to add value to naturally coloured raw fleece which is bought from farmers, smallholders and rare sheep breeders.
Charles Causley was a native and long-standing resident of
the town where he was both born and died. He was at one time contender
Poet Laureate and died in 2003, aged 86. His grave is in the St
Thomas Churchyard near the house he lived in, which carries a blue
plaque. He contributed the account of Launceston to a feature in the
Sunday Times magazine called "Village England". He describes it as
Launceston annually hosted the "Castle Rock" music festival in July, which took place on the lower grounds of the castle which overlooks the town (within the outer walls). As well as a vibrant mix of local bands, the 2006 festival was headlined by Capdown which massively improved the event's profile. The first concert was performed in 2000 and featured a young artist who was unknown at the time, Jamie Cullum . The festival was headlined on two occasions by local Rock band Syrup, who were signed to Great West Records, which was set up by Big Country bass player, Tony Butler , and his long term friend, Luke Maguire.
The Cornish "> St Thomas's Church, St Thomas by Launceston
Three Anglican churches are in the town which has a united benefice and ecclesiastical parish covering Tregadillett three miles west, the same clergy alternating services to provide for a large attendance and operating a combined website.
The Grade I listed church of St Mary Magdalene was built in 1511–1524 by Sir Henry Trecarrel of Trecarrel near the town as a memorial to his infant son who died whilst being bathed. The ornate carvings in granite originally carved for the mansion he began to build at Trecarrel, Lezant have withstood the test of time. The tower dates from the 14th century, an earlier church and graveyard having occupied the site. Its grand organ was presented by a member of the Morice family of Werrington Park . The donor was either Sir William Morice, 3rd Baronet (1707–50) or his successor Humphry Morice MP (1723–85). The casework is elaborate, "a superb example of 18th century woodwork; the 18th century pipework is also of very high quality."
On St Stephen's Hill the main road through the north of the town is the Roman Catholic Church to Cuthbert Mayne (see #History ) designed by Arthur Langdon in a blend of Byzantine and Romanesque . It was built in 1911 by local mason F H Nicholls of Lewannick, with carpentry by J H Harry, the oak doors by Mr Clifton of Ashwater, and the copper dome by T Chapman (Junior) of Launceston. The Lady Chapel was added in 1933.
Five schools are in the town:
* Three primary schools (St Catherine's Church of
A former student of the last-mentioned college is actor Sir Roger Moore . In 1962, Horwell Grammar School for Girls, Dunheved Road, was merged with the school and in 1965 the former Pennygillam School was added to form the present day comprehensive school which is still known as Launceston College. Since the 19th century (exact date unknown) the College has been at the southern end of Dunheved Road, approximately one kilometre from the town centre. In 1966 H. Spencer Toy its principal published A History of Education at Launceston detailing the development of education in the town and surrounding area.
Launceston Community Primary School has the colloquial pseudonym Windmill Primary School, being situated adjacent to the site of the town's former windmill for grinding grain in Coronation Park.
Part of the town wall is still in existence including the South Gate of two arches. The White Hart Hotel incorporates a Norman doorway possibly removed from the Castle. New Bridge (early 16th century) crosses the River Tamar: it is of granite. Two old bridges cross the River Kensey: one mediaeval and one built in 1580. The Baptist chapel is late 18th century and a number of Georgian houses may also be seen.
Three nonconformist churches/chapels served the 19th century town: Wesleyan Methodist, Bible Christian, and Calvinist. North Cornwall and West Devon's Elim Pentecostal Church is in the town. A church built a Launceston site in 2010, Gateway 2 New Life at the Gateway Centre, having redeveloped a tax office.
Lawrence House , a
Grade II* listed
See also: Launceston railway station
Launceston is no longer connected to the national railway network,
but was for almost a century served by two railway lines. The Great
Western Railway (GWR) branch from
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Francis Vyvyan Jago Arundell was born at Launceston in July 1780,
being the only son of Thomas Jago, a solicitor in that town, who had
married Catherine, a daughter of Mr. Bolt, a surgeon at Launceston. He
was in later life the Rector of
Landulph , an antiquary and an
Charles Causley , poet
Mary Ann Davenport , actress, born at Launceston in 1759
James Ruse , a Cornishman from Launceston, arrived in New South
Wales aboard the transport Scarborough, part of the
First Fleet of
Australian convict ships, in 1788.
John McGeoch , seminal new wave guitarist
Agnes Prest , One of the "Marian Martyrs", was burned at the stake
* ^ "Launceston Town populations 2011 census". Cornwall.gov.uk.
Retrieved 7 February 2015.
* ^ "List of Place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel" (PDF).
Cornish Language Partnership. May 2014. Archived from the original
(PDF) on 29 July 2014. Retrieved 2015-01-11.
* ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 201
* Launceston Town