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Launceston Castle

Visited May 2013

Location Launceston, Cornwall
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes-in town
Facilities Toilets, Gift shop







Built high up above the town of Launceston, this Norman castle is a good example of a circular (shell) keep. The high mound is semi artificial- a natural hill was further raised with soil and clay additions on top . The original  keep built by Robert of Mortain- William the Conqueror's half brother was remodelled in the thirteenth century. The castle today retains its 'triple ring'- the circular shell keep, a round tower inside it and a stone fighting platform running around the outside.







The entrance to the castle is through the ruins of the original gatehouse. This leads to a public park where some of the ruins at ground level can be viewed for free. It also affords a good view of the motte & keep. Should you chose to go into the castle grounds, there is the entrance booth with a small exhibition area attached, this displays the history of the castle. There is a very short children's activity sheet available, which involves a couple of small activities such as brass rubbing. These displays take about 10-15 minutes  at the most to view, then it is out through the door to the castle itself.


The main draw here is the huge motte and keep, which has steep steps up to the top. Half way up you can stop and observe the old castle well.  The keep consists of a circular stone wall, with a round tower inside it. The tower has a staircase leading right up to the top, it was very windy the day we went so beware of inclement weather!  The tower is open to the air now but at one time would have had some rooms in it. These were probably never actually lived in, but used as a look out area instead.  The stone fighting platform around the keep can still be accessed today. Make sure you walk around every bit of this castle that you can, as the entry fee is expensive when compared to the amount of castle there is to view. Unless of course you are a member of English Heritage and so get in for free.







Once you are back down on ground level, walk in the direction of the north gatehouse, where there is a plaque to commemorate the time which Quaker George Fox spent imprisoned at Launceston. Through the gatehouse is a row of townhouses, one of which is Lawrence House Museum. It has free entry and is well worth a visit, especially for its children's room, filled with displays of toys from the past (some from the not too distant past- you know you are getting old when your childhood toys are now in a museum!) There are boxes of toys which children can touch and play with, including some dolls prams which amused our child for ages! If you combine the castle visit with a trip to the museum it makes a longer day of it and offsets the high entrance fee for the castle.


Find the link to Lawrence House on our 'other places of interest' page.





More info:  English Heritage Launceston Castle

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