When people talk castles, we mostly tend to think of giant buildings, luxurious surroundings, and lavish lifestyles. Okay okay, all castles would have had a lavish lifestyle attached to them at some point but not all were giant. In fact, some were little itty bitty things. One could even say that a modern day comparison would be that some were like a little downtown penthouse condo and some were Hollywood-style mansions – both still expensive but clearly different in size. Launceston Castle, located in Cornwall, England, was such a penthouse.
Launceston Castle is of Norman origin and of motte-and-bailey design. It lies on a little hill in the town of Launceston and was built about 1070 by Robert, Count of Mortain, who was the half-brother of William the Conqueror. The castle was expanded somewhat in the 13th century. Records show that apparently, the castle’s annual maintenance fees were usually less than £20. A bargain.
Funny enough, when I got to the town of Launceston I realized that I’ve already been to another Launceston, this one being the second largest city in Tasmania (Australia). Aussie Launceston started back in the 19th century as a settlement and Cornish Launceston gave its name to it. People really aren’t imaginative when it comes to naming new things – why come up with a new name when an old one will do, I guess!
Launceston Castle is tiny but is worth a visit. Once you climb the stairs to the top of the tower, you’ll see the point of visiting – the view on the surrounding landscape. So bucolic and verdant, making you wish you were an ancient rich royal landowner, too.
Apparently nothing too exciting has ever happened at Launceston Castle. In 1086, the castle was recorded in the Domesday Book. The founder of the Quakers (George Fox) was held prisoner here in 1656. Some impacts from a few wars over the centuries. Oh and in 1973, Prince Charles was officially declared Duke of Cornwall, here. Lucky duck.
Launceston town itself was pleasant enough for a wander but your main reason for being here will be the castle. You can stretch out a visit to a couple hours by finding a grocery store or getting take away from a restaurant and then having a picnic on the pretty castle grounds. Other than that, once you’ve checked out Launceston, don’t forget to go visit the other Norman castles of Cornwall!