Launceston Castle

Launceston Guide

Launceston - The Gateway to Cornwall.

From Celtic beginnings, Launceston has grown into one of the main market towns of Cornwall.

Launceston is rightly known as the gateway to Cornwall and is situated between Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor in the Tamar Valley, close to the Devon border. It boasts the ruins of a Norman Castle, which was built by William the Conqueror’s half brother Count Robert Mortain in the 11th Century, built probably because of Launceston’s excellent stronghold location on the side of a hill. Launceston is the perfect location for touring the whole of Cornwall, whether you are looking for country walks or days out at the seaside.

Where is it?
M5   -   Leave the M5 at junction 31, then branch left and merge on to the A30. Stay on the A30 until you reach the turn off for Launceston. At the turn off for Pennygillam exit left, then at roundabout take the 4th exit onto the A388 and follow the signs for the town centre.
By Train      The nearest mainline stations to Launceston are Liskeard or Bodmin Parkway.  See the National Rail for train times and fares.
By Air         Exeter International is about an hour from Launceston and has flights to and from most British and European cities.
                   Plymouth City Airport is also about an hour from Launceston on the A388 and has flights to and from most British cities.
                   Newquay Cornwall Airport is an hour along the A30 and has flights to and from most European and British destinations.

Brief History
Launceston was first identified as an early Celtic Settlement, but became an important market town by the middle of the 11th Century. Its importance as a market town grew in the middle ages grew because of its location close to the Devon border and also in the 12th Century became the first and only town to be protected by encircling town wall. The Church of St Mary Magdalene dates from the 16th century.
Just like most of the southwest of England, Launceston supported the King in the civil war between the crown and parliament, but the castle was captured by the roundheads in 1646. Since the 18th Century, Launceston has continued to be an important market town and indeed was the capital of the County until 1838. Today, as in most areas of Cornwall, this busy market town is helped by the tourism attracted to Cornwall throughout the year.
Attractions, Activities and Events
Trethorne Leisure Park
A family day out where children of all ages can hold and stroke some of the smaller animals in the special 'In Touch with Animals' sessions- including rabbits, guinea pigs,  pigmy goat and chin chilla. Other farm activities include: Lambs to bottle feed, Hand Milk the Cow, Ponies to Ride plus Tiny Tim our Shire Horse for adults to Ride, Rare Breed Poultry, Aviary, Goats, Pigs, Miniature Shetland Ponies, Red Deer. There are also indoor and outdoor play areas with crazy golf, bungee run, rotating climbing wall and lots, lots more to do.

Ellis Gardens and Nursery.
This is a family run Garden and Plant Nursery at Polyphant, near Launceston, Cornwall.
There are a large selection of Hardy Perennials and Euphorbias for sale. All plants are grown on the eco-friendly nursery using organic techniques.  
Visit the gardens - Winding paths lead you through wide perennial borders with a surprise around every corner. Large wildlife pond, white garden, willow walk, Euphorbia collection, drought resistant borders. The garden is full of colour and fragrance from spring to autumn.
There is also a tea-room for tea, coffee, delicious home made cakes and Cornish cream teas. There is wheelchair access to all areas.
The Launceston Town trail
The trail winds its way around the historical town taking in some of its memorable architecture and traces the events and stories of the town’s eventful past.
New Mills Farm Park
Based at New Mills, just outside Launceston, the park activities include: Pets Corner, Skittles, Games, Play Barn, Ball Pools, Toddlers Play Barn, Games of Yester Year, Museum, Air Ambulance Display, Trampolines, Swings, Giant Slide, Adventure Climbing, Frame, Swing Balls, Badminton, Football, Sand Pit, Cricket, Beach, Croquet, Horseshoes, Lots of Rides on Toys, Child and Adult Go-Karts Sandcastle.  A great day out whatever the weather! For refreshments there is the Hungry Farmer Cafe - Great value food, eat in or take-away (good sized portions)
Lawrence House Museum
The museum can be found on Castle Street and is a Georgian property built in 1753. The museum has three floors, with exhibits focusing mainly on local history. Exhibits include a model of Launceston’s southern railway station. Admission is free but donations, which support the work of the museum, are always welcome. There is Disabled access to the ground floor only ( 6 rooms )and there is a Disabled WC.
Launceston Steam Railway.
Victorian Steam Locomotives travel on the 5 mile round trip through the Kensey Valley. Passengers have unlimited travel on the day. There is a great deal going on at Launceston Steam Railway with Railway Workshops, an Engineering Museum, Bookshop., Refreshments and  Cream Teas.
Homeleigh Garden Centre
Homeleigh is one of south west Englands largest garden centres and is 1 mile outside of Launceston. Established in 1983 when it was a small working farm, this family run business started from a small greenhouse and can now boast over 40 different departments on the same site. Well worth a visit and is still run by the same family.

Sport in Launceston:
Launceston Rugby Football Club    National League Division 2
Launceston Football Club              SW Peninsula League Premier Division.
Launceston Cricket Club               Jolly’s Drinks Cornwall Cricket League County 1
Launceston Golf Club                    18 Hole Par 71 Golf Course, Visitors welcome. The first and Last Golf club in Cornwall!

Tamar Valley Discovery Trail - A walk through an unspoilt and river valleys.
Two Castles Trail – The walk passes through a number of small Cornish and Devon villages.
Tourist Information
Launceston Medical Centre, Landlake Road, Launceston, Cornwall, PL15 9HH. 01566 772131 Mon – Fri 8.15am to 6.30pm

Castle Rise Dental Practise, Madford Lane, Launceston, Cornwall PL15 9EB. 01566 772911

Launceston General Hospital,College Road, Launceston, Cornwall, PL15 9JD  01566 765650 Minor injury Unit.

St Mary Magdalene, 14th Century, Church Street, Launceston. A granite building with exterior carvings           Open daily between 9.00am and 4.00pm. Services held every day of the week.

St Thomas’s Church, Riverside, Launceston. Services at 11.15 am every Sunday morning.

St Stephen’s Church, Roydon Road, Launceston. Parish Eucharist 9.30 am every Sunday morning.
Brian Taylor
November 2010


Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015