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St Swithin, Launcells, Cornwall

(50°49′26″N, 4°29′45″W)
SS 243 057
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cornwall and Cornwall
now Cornwall
medieval Exeter
now Truro
medieval St Andrew
now St Swithin
  • Richard Jewell
16 May 1992

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Feature Sets

The church is of standard Cornish aisled type, a S arcade of polyphant and a slightly late N arcade of granite. Nothing remains from the Romanesque church except the font.


In the Domesday Book Launcells is written Landseu in error for Landsell, probably Lancellys - the church of Cellys - indicating the presence of a Celtic monastery on the site and perhaps the same name as Lansallos. Although secularized in the Conquest, by 1261 it was appropriated to the Abbey of Hartland in Devon, which received the great tithe of the parish at Forrabury. As it did at Launcells, this abbey possibly began to gain influence in the Norman period; and Matilda of Launcell granted all her wood in Launcell manor to Hugo, abbot of Hartland, in King John's reign (1199-1216). In 1382, a dispute between the vicar and the abbey, concerning who should pay to repair or rebuild the old chancel, was settled by the Bishop of Exeter.





In Sedding's day the font stood adjacent to a pier of the N arcade, and was nearly enclosed by old woodwork. Henderson considered it to be one of the earliest Norman examples, "probably fashioned by Saxon masons"; it could also be seen as very rustic version of the font at St Stephen's by Launceston. Date: last quarter 11thc.


P. Beacham and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Cornwall (New Haven and London 2014), pp. 283-84.

C. Henderson, The Cornish Church Guide (London 1925), p. 112.

A Complete Parochial History of the County of Cornwall, vol. III (Truro and London 1870), pp. 60-61.

N. Pevsner and E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England: Cornwall, 2nd ed (Harmondsworth 1970), p. 95.

E. H. Sedding, Norman Architecture in Cornwall: A Handbook to old Cornish ecclesiastical architecture with notes on ancient manor houses (London and Truro 1909), pp. 210-11.