Launceston St Stephen church

Launceston St Stephen

St Stephens sits in the village of Lanstephan (‘holy place of Stephen’) or on St Stephen’s Hill. It is the mother church of the town but on a quite separate hill from the modern town centre clustered around the castle and St Mary Magdalene’s church.

Close by is a holy well and one can assume that the original religious foundation was here.

The battlemented roof does not look like an early church which suggests that there was still an active and rich community here even after the centre of influence had moved across the valley to St Mary’s.

Launceston St Stephen: an east end sculpture

From the outside, the south transept appears to have become absorbed into the south aisle (ca 1419) in an unusual way.

The main delights from the outside are two sculptures on at east end. These may well be Norman in origin in which case they must have come form an earlier church.

At St Mary’s they have the Magdalene carved on the east end. Here it is a seated Saviour and a Virgin and child. The wall around them is a study in itself, with what appear to be jambs or blocked windows, both of which would be unusual on an east wall.

The church was closed when we visited with no sign as to where the key might be found. It therefore enters our Hall of Shame.


A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall