Launceston Castle

Launceston Castle, standing proudly on a large natural mound, dominates the skyline of Launceston, a historic town on the border between Cornwall and Devon.

This Norman castle, with its imposing motte-and-bailey design, offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into England’s medieval past.

From its early beginnings as a fortress to its role as a prison and a law court, Launceston Castle has been an integral part of Cornwall’s history for over a thousand years.

Today, it invites holidaymakers to explore its ruins, learn about its rich history, and enjoy panoramic views across the Cornish countryside.

Discovering Launceston Castle

Once the administrative headquarters for the Earls of Cornwall, Launceston Castle features a striking circular keep built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, in the 13th century, which is a rare example of its kind in England.

The castle’s history is brought to life through informative displays and exhibits that tell stories of battles, royal visits, and everyday medieval life.

Highlights of Launceston Castle

The Tower: The centrepiece of the castle, the high tower offers an adventurous climb leading to breathtaking views over Launceston and the surrounding countryside.

The Exhibition: Located in the 13th-century gatehouse, the exhibition details the castle’s history from its Norman origins through its time as a county gaol.

Castle Grounds: The extensive grounds are perfect for a leisurely stroll, offering a peaceful setting to appreciate the architecture and imagine the castle in its prime.

Planning Your Visit

Getting There

Launceston is easily accessible via the A30 from both Cornwall and Devon, making it a convenient stop for travellers exploring the South West of England.

The castle is situated in the town centre, well-signposted, and within walking distance from local amenities and parking areas.

Public transport options include buses that connect Launceston with nearby towns and cities.

Admission and Opening Times

Launceston Castle is managed by English Heritage and admission fees apply, with concessions for members, students, and seniors.

Family tickets are also available.

The castle operates seasonally, typically open from April to October, but it’s advisable to check the English Heritage website for the most current information regarding opening times and any special events.


Accessibility: Due to its historic nature, access to some parts of the castle, including the tower, may be challenging for visitors with limited mobility.

Picnicking: Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy within the castle grounds, offering a scenic spot for a family lunch.

Local Amenities: Launceston town centre, with its array of shops, cafes, and restaurants, is just a short walk from the castle.

Maximising Your Experience

Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour if available, to gain deeper insights into the castle’s history and architecture.

Check for Events: Launceston Castle hosts various events throughout the year, from historical reenactments to family activity days, which can enhance your visit.

Explore Launceston: Take the time to explore the town of Launceston, with its historic buildings, the Lawrence House Museum, and St Mary Magdalene Church, known for its intricate carvings.

Tips for Your Visit

Wear Comfortable Footwear: The climb to the tower and exploration of the grounds can involve uneven surfaces.

Weather Considerations: As much of the visit will be outdoors, check the weather forecast and dress accordingly.

Photography: Don’t forget your camera; the views from the tower and the castle’s architecture provide fantastic photo opportunities.

Nearby Attractions

Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre: Just a short drive from Launceston, this wildlife centre offers the chance to see otters, owls, and other animals up close.

Trethorne Leisure Park: Offering a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, Trethorne is an excellent choice for a family day out.

The Hidden Valley Discovery Park: Explore interactive puzzles, trails, and miniature railways at this adventure park, perfect for curious minds and adventure seekers.


Launceston Castle serves as a gateway to Cornwall’s medieval past, offering a captivating visit for history enthusiasts, families, and anyone interested in exploring the heritage of the South West.

With its impressive tower, educational exhibits, and scenic grounds, the castle provides a unique opportunity to step back in time and immerse yourself in the stories that have shaped the region.

Whether you’re climbing to the top of the tower for unparalleled views or picnicking in the grounds, a visit to Launceston Castle promises a memorable and enriching experience.