The first place we visited was the Launceston Steam Railway. Founded by Nigel and Kay Bowman to house a Penrhyn Quarry locomotive that Nigel had bought, it opened in 1983, built on the trackbed of the former London and South Western Railway to Padstow. The day we visited, this first locomotive – Lilian – was in service. Nigel was driving the locomotive when it came into the station with an earlier train. Having met Kay before (on a previous visit and at the Ffestiniog Railway), I was lucky to be invited for a footplate ride from Launceston to Newmills.
More on the Launceston Steam Railway from Wikipedia
Our next port of call was Launceston Castle. This castle is looked after by English Heritage. Located on a natural mound to the south of the town, the castle is a typical Norman motte and bailey earthwork castle. It was raised by Robert, Count of Mortain, half-brother of William the Conqueror shortly after the Norman conquest, possibly as early as 1067. George Fox, founder of the Quakers, was imprisoned in the North Gate in 1656.
More on Launceston Castle at Wikipedia
From the top of the castle, we saw the statuettes on top of the Lawrence House Museum. Lawrence House, Launceston, is Georgian house built in 1753, located in a street which John Betjemen described as ‘having the most perfect collection of 18th Century townhouses in Cornwall’. It is owned by the National Trust and leased to Launceston Town Council, who use it to house the town museum, and as a civic centre. One area that really caught my eye was in the basement – were the kitchens were located.
Later in the afternoon, we visited St Mary Magdelene Church. This is a Tudor church built between 1511 and 1524 by Sir Henry Trecarrel 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. The tower of the church dates from the 14th century, an earlier church and graveyard having previously occupied the site.
During our visit the features that caught our interest included the reredos and rood screen. The east window in the side chapel is currently removed for restoration. Like many church buildings, a considerabe amount of money is required to maintain and restore the building.
- More about Launceston – Town & Visitor Guide
Over the holiday, we maintained a pictorial record:
- Pictures from Day 1 of our Devon 2010 holiday
- Pictures from Launceston Parish Church
- More pictures from our Devon 2010 holiday