Launceston (Cornish: Lannstevan; rarely spelled Lanson) is a town, ancient borough, and civil parish in the east of Cornwall, England. In the West Saxon period Dunheved was the Southwestern Brittonic name for the town.
19th Century Parish Mergers
Launceston became a municipal borough in 1835 and continued as such until the municipal reorgaization of 1974. Prior to 1835 it was an "ancient borough" in East Hundred.
In 1889 St. Stephen's by Launceston, St. Thomas the Apostle and Lawhitton were divided into "urban" and "rural" civil parishes. The urban parts of these three civil parishes were merged into Launceston Municipal Borough in 1894 along with St. Mary Magdalene and St. Thomas Street parishes which were merged in their entirety.
The rural parts (now known as St. Stephen's by Launceston Rural, St. Thomas-the-Apostle Rural and Lawhitton Rural) became part of the Launceston Rural District. St. Stephen's by Launceston Urban, St. Thomas-the-Apostle Urban and Lawhitton Urban continued to exist for ecclesiastical purposes separate from their rural counterparts. In WeRelate they have been redirected to Launceston.
The full title of the modern civil parish is Launceston-St Mary Magdalene. The population of Launceston-St Mary Magdalene parish in the 2001 census was 7,135. Ecclesiastically it is in the Diocese of Truro.
Launceston is built on the side of a large hill, which makes it almost immune to flooding, unlike the nearby suburb of Newport (redirected here), situated at the bottom of the hill, which is susceptible to flooding by the River Kensey. Launceston is a market town and the main shopping centre for the adjoining rural areas of west Devon and east Cornwall.
The suburb of Newport is recorded for the first time during the 13th century. The natural advantages of the Launceston district had been recognised by the Anglo-Saxon monks of St. Stephen and by the Norman Lord of Cornwall in the reign of King William I. At Launceston the River Tamar is joined by four tributaries within a short distance and its flood plain is relatively large, while further south the Tamar valley is narrow and meandering.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Launceston.
One of the many maps available on A Vision of Britain through Time is one from the Ordnance Survey Series of 1900 illustrating the parish boundaries of Cornwall at the turn of the 20th century. This map blows up to show all the parishes and many of the small villages and hamlets.
The following websites have pages explaining their provisions in WeRelate's Repository Section. Some provide free online databases.