SPEND 24 HOURS IN LAUNCESTON
Home to poet Charles Causley and The Launceston Agricultural Show, The Cornish town of Launceston has plenty of places to eat, see and stay
Celebrated poet Charles Causley sat here at the foot of England and tickled its toes, according to one of his greatest fans – and for those in the know the festival which takes his name in his home town of one of Cornwall’s best.
But it’s not only the Charles Causley Festival in June which makes Launceston such a great place to be in the summer.
This year Cornwall’s Launceston’s agricultural show celebrates its 125th year with a fantastic array of traditional rural pursuits as well as more modern additions, such as celebrity chefs and live music. Taking place on 24 July there will be classes for cattle and sheep, horses, driving, agricultural horses and working hunter. There will be displays of falconry, pygmy goats, sheepdogs and racing ferrets. The South Tetcott Hunt Parade and hound puppies will also entertain the crowns.
Alongside trade stands of the best in Cornwall and Devon’s food, there will be arts, crafts and a chance to meet small businesses. There will be a floral art exhibition and the Women’s Institute and Young Farmers Club will also be there.
The Launceston Agricultural Show has always been a traditional agricultural one-day show and 2014 is no exception. As previous years, the horse, cattle and sheep classes look to be well attended and the quality of exhibits will be as high as ever. 2014 sees an increase in the size of the Food Demonstration Marquee due to its huge success last year. This will see demonstrations by local boy, Andrew Rice from Homeleigh Garden Centre together with celebrity TV chefs James and Chris Tanner, who will be challenging each other to a Ready Steady Cook style competition. Visitors with four-legged friends can enter the fun dog show on the day.
The Theatre Tent will be buzzing with local talent from Launceston Town Band, Launceston Pop Choir, Bude Jive Club and a children’s steel band. The show was established in 1887 – and due to the cancellation of shows during the Foot and Mouth epidemic and 2012’s appalling weather, this year will mark the 125 milestone.
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Show president Philip Warren says: 'From a young boy attending the show when it was held at Hurdon in the town, where I gazed in wonder at the livestock and tractors, through to the marvellous show last year, where I noticed the children staring in wonderment as I did, the same basic thread holds sway: community coming together through agriculture.
'Livestock is about renewal and progression; we hope that the Launceston Agricultural Show renews the progresses for another 125 years.'
Tickets are available on the day, Adult £10, Child £3.
Where to eat
Think Cornish cuisine and fish and chips is probably top of the list.
At The Launceston Fryer Fish & Pizza Bar you can eat in or take away many types of fish, all sourced from sustainable stocks. Not a fish fan? They also offer freshly-made pizzas and burgers along with award-winning ice
cream made by a family-run business in Launceston.
Finding a place that serves a decent cup of coffee is as important to many of us as locating a great restaurant. The town’s Liberty Coffee serves barista-made speciality coffees as well as loose leaf teas and hot chocolate. Seems wrong not to treat yourself to a freshly-baked cake while you’re there!
Launceston may be a traditional market town but its cuisine can transport you all over the world. Head to La Bouche Creole and try the culinary delights of New Orleans. Creole cuisine is drawn from a mouth-watering melting pot of flavours from African, French and Spanish cooking. The bistro’s dishes are all made with local produce.
Where to stay
Situated next to Launceston Castle is the Eagle House Hotel. This Georgian house has views over the surrounding countryside and is just a few minutes from the town centre. With 14 bedrooms and a bridal suite, it’s a small and elegant hotel that makes a great base for a stay in the medieval town.
Dating back to 1892, Poole Farm has been extensively refurbished to provide three luxury en-suite double bedrooms. The aim is to offer guests a traditional bed and breakfast experience at an affordable price. It’s located on the Cornwall/Devon border, adjacent to the River Tamar, with Launceston just a short drive away.
Where to shop
Markets are the perfect place to have a browse and see what an area has to offer. If it’s locally-produced food and drink that tempts your taste buds, check out Launceton’s indoor market, which is held at St Mary’s Hall on Fridays. The town also plays host to a monthly Butter Market in the Town Square. Head down on the first Saturday of the month for some tasty treats.
Galleries and workshops across Cornwall showcase the county’s vibrant art scene. Launceston artist Karen Farrington offers original artwork for sale and by commission at the Tourist Information Centre in White Hart Arcade. You can also choose from cards, prints, mugs and tea towels, which are also available at fairs, shops and tourist attractions in the local area.
What to do
To find out about Launceston’s rich heritage, head to the award-winning Laurence House Museum. Situated in a beautiful Georgian town house, it focuses on local history, and includes a toy room, a costume collection and information on the town’s famous residents, such as poet Charles Causley. Even better, admission is free, though donations are welcome.
If you’d like to get closer to nature, then the Tamar Otter & Wildlife Centre is just a few miles from the town. As well as seeing otters playing and being fed close at hand, you will find deer, wallabies and birds of prey. All the centre’s conservation activities are funded by income received from visitors.