Dating back to Celtic times the whole of Launceston is steeped in
history and is dominated by its Castle built by Brian de Bretagne the
first Norman Earl of Cornwall in the 11th Century.
Once the site of the
Royal Mint and the only walled town in Cornwall the Launceston of today
has much to offer and to reward both business and leisure interests.
There is a town trail for visitors to follow which highlights the
ancient architecture and historical features including the 16th Century
Church of St. Mary Magdalene which has one of the most lavishly carved
exteriors of any Church in England. There are three other churches as
well as a Methodist Chapel and Kingdom Hall, three Primary Schools, one
private school and Launceston College, so both spiritual and secular
needs are well served.
Other places of interest include Lawrence House which has on display
an astonishing variety of historical artefacts and is recognised as one
of the finest museums in the South West, the Northgate and Prison where
the Quaker George Fox was imprisoned, Southgate arch which now
incorporates an Art Gallery, the Town Hall with its fine clock and
quarterjacks to chime hours and quarters and of course the Town Square
and surrounding narrow streets where Georgian houses stand in splendid
Lying below and to the North of the Town is the Parish Church of St.
Thomas which stands close to the ruins of Launceston Priory founded in
1126 by the then Bishop of Exeter and alongside the River Kensey over
which pedestrians can still cross by means of the ancient Clapper
Priory was at one time the wealthiest in Cornwall and after its consecration it
was dedicated to St. Stephen the Proto-Martyr and the Monks who were placed in
the Priory professed to the rule of St. Augustine.
the 14th Century the Priory had become a stately monastic building and by the
16th Century had achieved its peak in both influence and wealth but following
the dissolution of the Monastries it was razed to the ground and never re-erected.
site was rediscovered in the late 19th Century during the construction of the
railways and enough of the foundations were revealed to enable its size and
layout of the building to be determined.
Town Council, District Council and Local Archivists are at present time actively
engaged in securing the site, and preserving the remains thus ensuring that the
site will continue to be a place of important historic interest.