Launceston Castle

Launceston Castle, Cornwall
Launceston Castle, Cornwall
Launceston Castle, Cornwall

English Heritage castles and monuments in CornwallLaunceston
Cornwall PL15 7DR
Tel: 01566 772365

Picnics welcome. Access for visitors in wheelchairs to outer bailey.

How to get there
Road: The castle is in the centre of Launceston
Bus: Western National 76 Plymouth - Launceston; Tilleys from Exeter.

Map Reference SX331848

The castle at Launceston dominates the surrounding landscape - perched on top of a large, natural mound. The Castle was the ultimate status symbol of Middle Age wealth and power. Originally known as Dunheved. It was an impressive and strategically important building that controlled the river crossing in and out of Cornwall. The castle at Dunheved was first built as an earthwork castle, after the Norman conquest. Located high on a grassy mound overlooking nearby settlement of St Stephens. The location meant that it became the administrative headquarters for the great Earls of Cornwall - where they could control the vast estates that they owned throughout the area. The castle remained with little development, apart from an inner keep added in the 12th century. During the 13th century, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, a younger brother of Henry III began a transformation of the castle, rebuilding the edifice in stone.

Richard of Cornwall, Henry III's one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in England during the thirteenth century, improved the defences by building a curtain wall that skirted the original mound and rebuilding the gatehouses adding the latest design of drum towers. He rebuilt the central free-standing tower within the existing twelfth century keep. The tower improved the accommodation at the castle and gave the occupiers a much higher fighting platform for defence. Later the space between the tower and the 12th century keep was roofed over to create a series of concentric platforms to aid in the defence of the tower.

The tower itself was constructed from a darker stone than the rest of the castle, with two rooms -the upper apartment featured a large window complete with window-seats and a large impressive fireplace. A new Great Hall was constructed within the confines of the 12th century Bailey - a structure that remained in use until the early 1600s as an Assize Hall. The strategic importance of the castle and the town of Launceston that developed around it (the only example of a walled town in Cornwall) declined when in the late 13th century, the administrative centre for Cornwall was moved from Launceston to the Duchy Palace at Lostwithiel. The castle fell into disrepair, despite still holding the local Assizes and the jail. The castles role as a prison continued with George Fox, the founder of the Quakers being confined there for eight months in 1656. During the Civil War, the castles walls and defences were in such a poor state of repair that the Parliamentarian army did not bother to damage them when they gained control of the castle from the supporters of Charles I.


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Cornwall Online has one Character propertie offering Accommodation in this area

Neptune Lodge Holiday Cottage
Upton Cross

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Neptune Lodge Holiday Cottage

Self catering Neptune Lodge sleeps up to 7 people offering holidays on the eastern edge of Bodmin Moor in a sheltered spot. - the holiday Lodge is set in a peaceful position with far reaching panoramic views over rolling hills towards the Tamar Valley and Dartmoor National Park,
We are able to enjoy an exceptional dark sky, our visitors from towns or cities are amazed at how many stars are visible from here. Bodmin Moor is nearby and can provide more extensive walking and is a World Heritage Mining site. Approx. one mile away at Upton Cross is the Sterts Open Air Theatre
Neptune Lodge Holiday Cottage   Inspected by Quality in Cornwall   Tel: 01579 364044

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