First of all, we’re in Cornwall. There is also a (significantly larger) Launceston in Tasmania that was named after our Launceston.
We’re only just in Cornwall – the River Tamar that forms the boundary between Cornwall and Devon is just one mile to the east. So Launceston is the Gateway to Cornwall. Most travellers to Cornwall will arrive on the main A30 road. Launceston is the next turnoff after you’ve crossed the river via the Dunheved Bridge.
Launceston was an important town as long ago as the 10th century. Following the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror’s half-brother, Robert built a motte and bailey castle here, and it is this castle (rebuilt in stone in the 13th century) that still dominates the town’s skyline. Launceston was the seat of the Earls of Cornwall and later county town of Cornwall before losing that status to Bodmin in the 19th century.
Living in Launceston
The town has a population of just under 12,000. It is surrounded by open countryside, notably the Tamar Valley (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) to the south and the wild upland of Bodmin Moor (made famous by literary works and TV series like Jamaica Inn and Poldark) to the west. The sea is only a few miles to the north of Launceston.
The town and surrounding area have several primary schools and one secondary school, Launceston College. Launceston College’s former pupils include the poet Charles Causley and the actor Sir Roger Moore.
Causley is one of Launceston’s favourite sons. The poet lived almost all of his life in Launceston. He gives his name to the Charles Causley Festival, a major literary festival held in the town every summer.