A Trip around Launceston by Jim Edwards

The original Dunheved is said to have been a manor before 1066, Lawhitton, Dunheved, South Petherwin, Lezant, forming a part of the Bishop’s holdings in this area.. The vill of Dunheved is said to have been about a quarter mile from today’s town, to the south and west: I make this to be in the area beside the college, possibly the tennis ground and Park bungalow area. It was said to have been situated near three springs – the college has water beneath it, a stream runs from this area down to Woburn, crosses Western Road, and joins with ‘Harpurs Lake’ at Carforde, just below Chapple. On Dunheved Road, just previous to the college entrance was a reservoir, built in 1826, which was filled in in 1869 to allow the continuation of the road to Badash and South Petherwin. Stones are said to have been found in the area when Mr Lyne built his house and tennis courts here (dates uncertain – late 1600’s early 1700’s?)
There is also mention of a dwelling area on the hill near Chapple. The name Landrends is often mentioned in the priory cartularies – today this is a farm on the top of Chapple, overlooking the Kensey Valley.
(Dunheved – swelling hill – dark hill ? perhaps Don hafod – Welsh – summer pasture??)
Two brickworks supplied the Launceston area with building bricks from – possibly – early 1700. One at Lawhitton, near Wishworthy, one time owned by the Brendon family, the other near Dutson where the quarry is still to be found as a fishing lake. The White Hart Hotel, the front of which was entirely rebuilt in 1767, was built with Wishworthy brick, buildings at Scarne Farm were in the same brick. Parts of Castle Street are of Dutson brick.
Westgate Street – Near the junction with Windmill Hill – stone buildings with jewellers at one end, Bradford & Bingley the other – designed by James Hine, 1870’s. Launceston Bank erected by William Burt, possibly designed by Henry Burt. The Westgate Inn, once called the New Gate Inn, maybe due to the west gate being the last to be inserted. The Inn and of most of this side of Westgate Street upwards, was refronted in c.1840, and had a second part built on, with the kitchen being erected over a cistern, which is still in situ – it was used by the fire brigade to put out a carpenter’s shop fire in Western Road, and used to be emptied by the fire brigade each year as a pumping exercise (now illegal). Next door to the pub a bakery was inserted (no date).
The site of the fire station was once the Half Moon Inn, the first coach stop on entering Launceston from Bodmin. Some details of 1740’s. Became a residence, then a school by Dr Cope, again a residence owned by Eyre, chemist, occupied by George Mitchell Gifford, bank manager, uncle to Emma (who married Thomas Hardy), then several residences, parts removed to allow for the entry to Dunheved Road in 1869. Destroyed in 1958 to erect the fire station. On the other side the St John Ambulance Hall, designed by OB Peter’s son, erected with materials from seven different quarries in 1934. The Drill Hall, built on the site of Noahs Ark.
The granite steps need resetting; the lime trees are in need of trimming to allow views of the Ridgegrove area and beyond to be appreciated. Steps to Dockacre need attending to, slate is slippery.
Otho B Peter designed the building for Tavistock Bank, on the corner of Broad St and Church Street in 1883, erected by William Burt. Barclay’s bank and shop between also by Peter and erected by Burt, in 1885.
No 5 Southgate St, front rebuilt by Mr Nicolls in 1870’s.
The plaque on the Southgate Arch commemorates the saving of the arch from destruction by Richard Peter, who petitioned the king , then bought the shop outside, had it destroyed and gave the land to the council to improve entry and exit. The footpath, battlements, and roof were added by Otho, his son, when the rooms above were altered to contain the exhibits of the museum, which until then, were held in the Guildhall. The dated water outlet was erected to commemorate the opening of the reservoir at the top of Dunheved Road in1825. The reservoir, by the way, was 29 feet 2 inches above the door cill of the White Hart, from where George Clark, Penzance engineer and surveyor, took all the levels for water, drainage and sewerage from in 1849. [ 6’ 10” above St Mary’s Church base, 206’ 9” above the bed of the Kensey at the bridge.]
Mr Hayman’s Pianoforte Warehouse, was designed by James Hine, the rear entrance is off High Street, with decoration above, erected by William Burt; the charity shop next door was designed by OB Peter after a fire in April 1896. The London Inn, now Gillard’s confectionery, dates from Elizabethan times. Contains original newel staircase. The Turk’s Head, across the road of similar date, see cellars. Smith’s newspaper shop was two shops, one owned by Mr Slee, Savings Bank actuary in 1880’s. Farmer’s Union at end was Shuker, chemist, then Shuker & Reed, refronted 1880’s.
[Locarama] Designed by Henry Burt, Newport, for Mr Cook, grocer and confectioner, erected by James Broad, contractor: large cellars beneath. 1898. Next door [Laundry] built for Mr Trethewey as bakers and confectioners by William Burt to designs by OB Peter, with large oven room, still in use as workshop, on the site of Mr Maunder’s, and Mr Trethewey’s tenements. Next door: Butcher’s shop: was a tallow and candle makers, the rear was beside Church Stile House. Next to this was a building said by Mr Robbins, historian, circa 1900, to be ‘the second oldest property in Launceston.’
Sanford Tymewells Alley – next to the jewellers which was his glovemaking business until burned down when a fire began in Mr White’s bakery next door, in 1840. The bookshop opposite the church porch was the New Inn, still with cellars and other originals inside. The corner building opposite the tower was designed by OB Peter for Mr Barribal, grocer, placed on the site of his old premises, now The Learning Centre, in 1910.
Said to have been a guildhall/lodging house for the builders of the church from c1510, the Bell is recognised as the oldest in town (very doubtful), some of the fabric may be of that date, no date of it becoming a hostelry. Others go back to a similar period or beyond. In March 1771 it was announced Mr William Ford, landlord, was to extend the premises by the addition of another house, so that it would comprise fourteen lodging rooms, stabling for fifty horses, a slaughter-house, and large covered skittle ground, as described in 1847. Sold in 1869 for £330.
In Castle St: top left side: The Methodist Central church – designed by Norman & Hine, the first part was on the site of Mr O’Brien, tinplate worker’s, tenement. Mr O’Brien and wife and family moved to Race Hill (no connection with O’Brian, preacher). Next: “the coachhouse, stables, with living accommodation over” of ‘Hillside’ – ‘Hartley House’ – ‘Coupland House’ – No 1 Castle Street. Once occupied by a Dr and surgery, the Editor of the local paper, and several more. Possibly dated late 1700’s. Have only hard evidence from ‘early 19thC.’, listed GvII. Eagle House, built 1764, onetime called Lower Madford, when occupied by Cowlard, appears to have been Eagle House from Dingley’s time. Have sales notice of 1797, on Carpenter’s widow’s death.
Next the little cottage – said to have panelling of St Anne’s time. Roof obviously thatched, then raised and slated. Next house built on Dr Good’s garden in 1931. Next Lawrence House, oldest at 1753 as town house of Mr Humphrey Lawrence, lawyer, on his marriage, upon the site of old tenements. A tenement attached was left as his office. Around 1909 this tenement caught fire and damaged the house: it was rebuilt as part of the original with the bay window inserted. [the original house ended in the centre of the bay window]. The ceiling and doors dec0oration was inserted by ‘Italianate workers’, said by some to have been Napoleonic POW’s, but I believe more likely around 1776 when the Duke of Northumberland had Werrington Manor house refurbished. Several other houses had the benefit of those workers expertise, including Eagle House. The next cottage was built on two tenements purchased by Miss Caroline Pearse so she could build a house on it for her personal maid, married to her butler. This she called her ‘New Red Brick House’. It had been a vicarage – have sketch of Miss Pearse’s plans of the Vicarage House dated April 1877 (Now a dental surgery). Next door – the slate hung cottage – I believe was the Minister’s house for the Congregational church, or – the original vicarage of St Mary’s, and the old ‘Vicarage House’ would then have been the Minister’s house?? The stone-built premises next were the stable and coachhouse of Lawrence House. This was the end of Castle Street. On the other side is the site of, very possibly the oldest Congregational church in the county, perhaps the country –
“The New Room Chapel in Bristol (1739) was the first Methodist Chapel ever built” – John CC Probert – Cornish Methodist Historic Association. ??
Castle Street Congregational Chapel, Launceston: “In 1707 Edward Bennett of Hexworthy, conveyed a piece of land and the sum of £120, bequeathed by his father William Bennett, a worthy descendant of the Parliamentarian Colonel, to six trustees to found “a Presbyterian meeting house in or near Launceston. The ground on which the present Church stands in Castle Street was chosen as the site and a building was erected in 1712.” ??
Next up is Castle Hill House: Built for Mr Thomas Jago, of an old Cornish family, who moved to Launceston and set up as a solicitor in the town. Thomas Jago married Catherine Bolt on 7th September 1774 – I believe this is around the date of the house. His grave is beside the porch of St Mary’s, covered with a large slate slab, now broken: – Thomas Jago, Attorney at Law – died August 13th 1814 aged 72 years – Mary Jago daughter of the said Thomas Jago died – May 15th 1818 aged 34 years. Wednesday 21st August 1833, the house was put up for auction: description: “All that Capital Brick Built MANSION House with the Coach-House & Stables, Fruit & Flower Gardens” by the widow of John Cudlipp, Esq, MD. The house was occupied by the medical profession for around 140 years, as well as being the accommodation for the Lawrences when they used Laurence House for their offices.
The last doctor occupier was Dr O’Conner who retired and moved to Prospect House [next to the Town Hall] in 1977.
The Congregational Sunday School was designed by OB Peter, erected by William Burt, in 1883. It contains a Japanese screen carved in Japan and presented to the chapel (I believe c 1980’s), and is positioned above the entrance door to the schoolroom. Next to this (adjoining according to Peter) is the remains of the Ring O’Bells, which also may have had the next building, late the Red Cross Shop, as a brewery, or extension to it.
At the top is the Liberal Club House, opened a month late due to the death of Gladstone. The date of opening was 17 June 1898.
Down Old Hill: at the bottom the cemetery of the Congregational Church: about 14 ex-mayors buried there: last interment 1944 – Mr Baskerville, of Dutson. Now to be used for car parking? Exceptional Headstones in there, carved by a Polyphant stonemason. Several very good old houses on the Hill – one of them an old school, now a nursery school. The Grammar School began on the parade ground, moved 1837 to the new Guildhall beside the church, then to Old Hill, then to new buildings in the garden, facing the new Station Road [St Thomas Road]. Foundation stone laid by ‘Slick Sam’, Mr Justice Haliburton, MP, in April 1861. OB Peter and brothers educated here.
St Stephens: Holy Well: the stream from the well was known as ‘St Stephen’s laca’, runs down the valley to the Kensey, mentioned as a land boundary in Priory records in 1245. The reservoir was built there with money from the Duke of Northumberland in 1817 to supply St Stephens with fresh water.
The old school was designed by OB Peter for the [then] new School Board, erected by William Burt, complete with Board Badge, OB Peter’s, and Burt’s masonic badge, it was opened at a cost of £1,000 in 1880.
Opposite the church, on the corner, was the Northumberland Inn, most probably on the site of an earlier one.
A Trades Directory: 1751 – Sampson Masters, Northumberland Arms, St Stephens. In 1827 Robert Burt.
After the bankruptcy of William Dick, Werrington Park, it is included in the sales catalogue of 1871: Cat No 302: Tenant Elizabeth Burt: The Northumberland Arms Public House, of recent erection, substantially built of Stone & Slate, containing Bar, Bar Parlour, Tap Room, Two parlours, Larder, Two Dairies, Kitchen: on the first floor a large Clubroom extending over the entire area of the Building; and on the 2nd floor Four Bedrooms, Lumber Room & Water Closet; with good Underground Wine and Beer Cellars, together with Stabling for Four Horses, Chaise House, and Cart Shed; Piggery, Brewhouse and Coal House, well built of Stone, Slated. 1 Rood 16 Perches. Included are Cattle Shed, Gardens and Meadows.
On the top road are six cottages, designed by OB Peter, erected for the Borough Council on land bought from Colonel Deakin, Werrington Park. Six cottages beside the shop opposite the bottom of Roydon Road built for Colonel Deakin in 1872. The houses opposite the Royal British Legion Houses, St Stephens, contained the Police House.
Cottages in St Stephens Hill – see separate sheet. Two large houses, etc, now a boarding and day school, [St Joseph’s] on St Stephens Hill – see separate sheet.
The White Horse, etc, separate sheet. Round House – built with Northumberland money to cover the old market cross, where results of polls were declared. Given to town by George Burt, The White Horse, in 1923, when seats etc, were added by Town Council. Penquite, Roydon Road by OB Peter.
Opposite the White Horse: The Horwell School: Designed by Mr Hugall, opened 1862, Measuring 40 ft x 25 ft, height 33 ft, the roof open to the top. Adjoining classroom 14 ft by 12ft. Gymnasium in the playground erected by public subscription. Endowed by Queen Elizabeth with the sum of £16.3.4d, paid from Inland Revenue Office.
Newport: Post Office: erected by Mr William Burt, contractor, as his residence, together with his builder’s yard behind. Attached. Railway Inn – formerly the Bridge Inn – additions 1884 advert to builder to tender for building – New Stables, carriage house, &c. and for various additions and repairs at The Railway Hotel & Premises. Plans by Wise & Wise, architects: Tenders issued Feb 1884.
Campbell Cottages; erected in Mr Campbell’s time as owner of Werrington, including this area: Alexander Henry Campbell, cotton merchant, Werrington 1868 – bankrupted 1970 due to American Civil War.
The River Kensey rises on Davidstowe moors, runs for about ten miles, through Newport and in to the Tamar, a mile further down, near Polson Bridge and ancient crossing. On this river were about 22 mills of various ages and types, driven by water. The oldest I put at Treglum, the highest, and Ridgegrove, at the foot of Ridgegrove Hill; both were in the hands of the Priory at St Stephens – from around c.910 +.
In the Newport area were: Town Mills – Then called Court Gate Mills, just outside the court gate of the [new] priory. 4 waterwheels – producing grist, flour, spinning, and washing wool. Beside St Thomas church was a woollen mill. Up the valley – south- was a grist mill, with mill-pond, from 1300’s into 1500’s. On the little island beside Newport Bridge was a spinning mill [paying about £3,000 pa in wages], several tanning yards, in all about 9 mills. Just below was Ridgegrove grist mills. Beside this mill in 1800, a woollen mills was erected of large capacity, turning out serges for the East India Company. By about 1850 these were closed – part became Mr Box’s iron foundry, then altered to Bone mill for Mr Essary. When closed became a granary and cattle shed, with room for agricultural machinery to be stored therein. The grist mills was added to in 1830 with a second wheel, more modern machinery. Remains – Two iron water wheels cast in Launceston, almost all necessary machinery, with grain cleaner, sack hoist, etc. Privately owned – Listed. Three other mills were below this complex at some times.
The Treglum is still to be seen, I believe no machinery. The oak timber trade must have been quite large to supply the tanneries here also. There was a saw mill in Wooda Lane, rebuilt from a bone mill.
Priory House, St Thomas Road, was built for as the vicarage of St Thomas church, in 1859 occupied by Mr C Arthur. Later that year Mr Samuel Hicks, school principal was in occupation.
In 1870 Priory House was offered for sale by public auction the Drawing, Dining and Bed room furniture, Carpets &c. as Dr Farwell was about to leave the neighbourhood and the house would be for letting.
The Boots shop in the Town Square _ was site of Little White Hart – taken down in 1901, re erected by Mr James Broad, to designs by OBP, as Bakehouse and grocery stores for Mr Dunn. HSBC and TSB, designed by James Hine, after severe fire in 1874. Next shop also rebuilt then. Now the McKay’s store – was Exeter Inn – taken down – rebuilt to OBP designs as Castle Temperance Hotel, by Mr Ephraim Sharland, contractor, Launceston, for £1,112. 10/-. Plumbing by AG Wenmouth, 1895.
The Webbers Property Services shop in Broad Street was the birth-place of the Cornish & Devon Post, started by Mr Brimmel. It has been many types of shop since, including Mr Mules, tobacconist and hairdresser. Until c.1980’s it had much decoration of the front, but this disappeared under layers of plaster or was deliberately chopped off. It must go back 150 or more years.
In Western Road is the old hospital – now Potter & Baker, Accountants – it still retains the old operating theatre with its magnificent domed ceiling, which gave extra light – the doorways are surrounded in good woodwork, rounded to allow beds and trolleys to be moved around easily – the stairs, in two parts, are original, the second flight, of wrought iron are beautifully preserved, the first flight wide enough to carry patients over. The cellars are used as stores for the accountant’s
Next, lower down the street, is a small cottage which may have been intended for an Inn , but I believe never was licensed. The garage next was a carpenters shop in earlier times, the row of Cottages are old, with very old timber in the lofts. Much of No 1, is of lath and plaster as the others must be
Back up the street, the vehicle entrance was part of the building now occupied by Stags, made when it was an eggpacking station. In its early days it was the British School for Boys and The Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School.
Of its erection I know nothing, but it was part of the Werrington Estate put up for auction in 1871, as a boys boarding school. In 1875 the headmaster was Rev WS Johns, MA, Exeter College, Oxford, Vicar of St Thomas, Launceston, late headmaster of Newton Abbot College. Terms for Boarders £60, for Day Boys £12.
In 1879 nearly the same advert, with the same headmaster but the Second Master was then Mr W Harvey-Jellie, Inter.Arts, London University &c., and the PE Instructor was Drill-Sergeant Musk, of the Volunteer Battalion.
Similar adverts appeared in 1892. In 1863 the Launceston Weekly News reported: At St Philip’s Church, Birmingham, December 25th, Mr P Wood, master of the British School, Launceston married Miss E Sandercock, daughter of Mr Sandercock, of North Hill. There is still a small bell cote on the roof, the doorway looks original.
A couple of doors down was the residence of Mr Horwell, son of George Horwell, Dunheved Foundry. Then is the Oddfellows Hall, designed by Mr Ernest Wise, architect, Launceston, in 1879. Just below was the residence of another son of Mr Horwell.
The Indian Restaurant was originally a Baptist Chapel, designed by OB Peter, as a chapel and school – “of Gothic architecture, several varieties of local stone were used, the front is of cut and dressed stone, a handsome 3-light window is in the front, the entry is through a small porch in the east wall. The seats are of pitch pine, open timber roof, and is heated by hot water, and lit by gas. There is seating for 120 adults. The schoolroom is below and is accessed by a door and steps. It was erected in 1892 by Mr GH Strike, builder.”
On the corner, opposite the Town Hall, the cottage at an angle was the shop and residence of Mr Horwood, plumber and Founder. Behind was a large yard with outhouses and the Dunheved Foundry. At the death of Mr Horwood, the two sons took over the business, but it was eventually sold to Mr Box, then to Mr Harwood.
The Willow Gardens were after this along the new King William Street, which is still New Road.
Exeter Street was built 1823 (called Eastern Road) Tavistock Road in 1834 (called Tamar Terrace Road), Race Hill was White Lane. The junction of Race Hill and Exeter Street and the area around held the town Pound, a brewery, three pubs, a bakers, rope-makers, a watch and clock makers and tenements and gardens. Just where, I know only of some.
The Pack Horse Inn was on the corner of Madford Lane, at one time standing on its own, surrounded on two sides by garden, one side by Madford Lane, and the other side by White Lane. This became also the workshop of Mr Pearce, well remarked clock and watch maker, and then of his son who carried on the business. 1700’s
Mr Lewarne carried on a brewery business, I suspect in Exeter St, next to the Launceston Arms. The Angel Inn was on Angel Hill from c1500’s, on the south side of the Hill, next to this were various tenements, orchards and gardens. One part of the Angel still survives, at the back of the Launceston Arms, which changed its name from Angel Inn around 1798/1800. In 1935, the electricity National Grid came to Launceston, via Scarne and five substations, one of which was built on the former steps of the Angel Inn. The Inn was on a 700 year lease of the borough of Launceston to Thomas Bennett from 29th September, 1585; Zacheus Sleeman was landlord in 1747: “by subsequent assignments and ultimately assignment by Thomas Eyre, Mary French, Jean Pierre Geiger and wife Ann, to William Dyer, 24 Feb 1817”. [from official documents relating to the premises] Jean Geiger was a French officer POW in Launceston, who married Anne, daughter of Silvester Harris, carpenter, of Launceston.
When Silvester died Power of Attorney was given: “[1] Jean Pierre Geiger of Dessenheim, Upper Rhine, officer on half pay, and wife Ann, daughter of Silvester Harris, carpenter, deceased [2] Thomas Pearse, gent, and William Harvey, banker, both of Launceston.
“Premises in Launceston called the Angel, left by Will of Silvester Harris to sister Mary and daughter Ann- -“.
A Street directory states: The Launceston Arms, landlord Wm Dyer, Angel Hill; later directories give the address as Exeter Road, then Exeter Street.
On Exeter Street the brewery, which later became The West of England Brewery Co., was in the yard and probably in the front of the Launceston Arms. [I am told certain signs remain inside]. In the 20th century Messrs Sprys built on part of the yard of the Inn.
At the eastern end of Exeter Street, on the left, is a large house; this was a farmhouse which originally faced north, long before Exeter St was cut. Around 1830’s it was purchased by Mr Charles Gurney, attorney, where he lived and used the premises as his offices for some years. He later moved to other premises in the town and the “Old House” became the official offices of Gurney and his partners. Cowlard, Lethbridge, then others. When the Bank House was built it was deliberately too large for the proposed business and some of it was rented out to Cowlard, Lethbridge.