Launceston is a beautiful and historic town, whose ancient core is filled with some of the most important architecture in Cornwall. This is perhaps unsurprising when one learns that this small, unspoilt town was once capital of the Duchy.
The Normans started work on a castle here soon after the Conquest. Its famously round keep was built in the 13th century by Earl Richard, brother of Henry III and one of the most powerful men in Europe.
Nearby Castle Street is home to what Sir John Betjeman called, “the most perfect collection of 18th century town houses in Cornwall.” One of them is now the Eagle House Hotel, whose twin eagle statues were written about by Charles Causley. Another, Lawrence House, is the town’s museum.
The town square is surrounded by listed buildings, dating back to Tudor times and beyond. The White Hart Inn has a doorway plundered from the 12th century priory.
Explore the narrow lanes and alleys leaving the square to view the treasures of the past. St Mary Magdalene Church, also written about by Charles Causley, is one of the finest churches in the country. Founded by Edward, the Black Prince, the church is noted for its unique exterior carvings.
A curious legend attached to the church, involves landing a stone on a statue and winning a new suit!
Guided walks, by local writers and historians including Arthur Wills, Jane Nancarrow and Robert Tremain will take place during the 3-day festival.
All guided walks are free, or enjoy a quiet individual stroll in the summer sun – a fine way to enjoy Launceston’s world-class architectural heritage. Pick up a town map at Launceston Tourist Information Centre.
The Causley Way: A Walk through his home town of Launceston
Charles Causley wrote many poems which were either directly about features in his home town of Launceston or which were set in specific locations within the town.If you are visiting Launceston, this walk, which is on good paths with a few gentle inclines (Launceston is not a flat town!), will take you about one hour, including stops to read the poems.
1. Mary, Mary Magdalene (CP 238) tells of a local custom.
At the east end you will find the relief of a reclining Mary on the wall. Go around to the main porch. Above the porch you will see the Trecarell family crest.