St Swithin

Famously described by Sir John Betjeman as the ‘least spoilt church in Cornwall’, the building dates back to the late 15th century, with fragments of an earlier 14th century church incorporated into the current structure.

About this church

Any stranger coming to look at Saint Swithin's church at Launcells cannot fail to notice the charming setting, in a little valley, with a bridge and a stream gurgling beneath, and the Holy Well beside. It is reputed that the well never runs dry. There is a well kept graveyard with a conservation area which is carefully managed to care for insects as well as the floral care. Sir Goldsworthy Gurney famous inventor of LImelight buried here. The oldest existing tombstone is of granite and forms part of the porch entrance. It says 'Here lies the bodies of Richard Peryn who died the 24th July 1574 and of John Peryn who died the 15th April 1598 and Richard his son who died the 23rd October 1606'.

The interior of the church is full of light as it has clear glass windows. There is a unique Tudor mural, Georgian pew ends, and Barnstaple encaustic tiles. There is a magnificent sculptured coat of arms of Charles II on the north wall along with a letter written by King Charles written on the wall. Possibly the glory of the church are the carved 15th century pew ends.

The belfrey contains 6 bells of very fine tone. The team of ringers, which rang at King George III accession in 1760, was the same team to ring at his Jublilee in 1810 and three of kits members also lived to ring at the accession of George IV in 1820. There is a famous painting depicting this scene which hangs in the museum at the Bude Museum. It was painted by Frederick Smallfield.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Wildlife haven
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • Car park at church
  • Accessible toilets in church

Other nearby churches

St Andrew

There are some fascinating items to spot in the parish church of St Andrew, including the old town stocks and the stoutly studded door from Stratton Gaol, with iron nails outlining the word CLINK!

St Olaf King & Martyr

The churchwarden’s records for this church are particularly detailed and enable precise dates to be given to many features in the church.

St Michael & All Angels

St Michael & All Angels was built in 1835 and donated as ‘a gift to the people of the place’ by the Lord of the Manor, Sir Thomas Dyke Acland.

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