The parish of Launcells, (Cornish: Lannseles), is situated in the Deanery of Trigg Major and the Hundred of Stratton. It is bounded on the north by Kilkhampton, on the east by Pancrasweek in Devon from which it is partially separated by the river Tamar, on the south by Bridgerule West and Marhamchurch, and on the west by Stratton and Poughill. Originally called Lanceles, the small parish of Launcells is located just inland from Bude and Stratton and contains a few scattered hamlets. The meaning is taken from Lann (church site) plus unknown word. However, in this parish was a cell of the Austin Canons, belonging to Hartland Abbey, which was leased by Henry VIII in 1537 to Sir John Chamond. It had been supposed that this cell gave its name to the parish, but there is also evidence that it was a family name. In the reign of King John (1199-1216) that Matilda, the widow of William Launcell, granted her wood in Launcell Manor to Hugo, Abbot of Hartland Abbey, for which she received ten shillings. Launcells Manor was mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086 and so indicates a Norman church was here at that time.

Launcells is set in a secluded valley three miles east of Bude; it is away from everywhere, charming in its loveliness among the fields. There is no Launcells village; the Church is located at Launcells Barton, and the chief hamlets are Grimscott and Butsber or Butsbeer, (now called Buttsbear).

Most parish and church description(s) on these pages are from Lake's Parochial History of the County of Cornwall by J Polsue (Truro, 1867 - 1873)



The Cornwall Family History Society have published Monumental Inscriptions for;

  • The Parish Church - 648 entries
  • Grimscott Methodist Chapel - 159 entries.


Census information for this parish (1841 - 1901) is held in the Cornwall Record Office. The Cornwall Family History Society offers a census search service for its members.
Specific census information for this parish is available as follows:

  • 1841.
  • 1851.
    • The 1851 Census of Launcells (HO107/1897), Enumeration Districts 3a and 3b, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
    • The New Zealand Society of Genealogists have compiled separate surname indexes of the 1851 Census for each Cornish registration district; Launcells is listed in Volume 5. The booklets are available in Cornwall at the Cornwall Centre, (formerly known as the Cornish Studies Library), and is also available in the Cornwall FHS Library.
  • 1861. The 1861 Census of Launcells (RG9/1513), Enumeration Districts 5 and 6, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
  • 1871. The 1871 Census of Launcells (RG10/2216), (Enumeration Districts 5 and 6), is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
  • 1881. The 1881 Census of Launcells (RG11/2270), Enumeration Districts 5 and 6, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
  • 1891. The 1891 Census of Launcells (RG12/1797), Enumeration Districts 5 and 6, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.

Church History

  • Anglican. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SS2405; it was initially dedicated to St Andrew on 16th October 1321, but was later rededicated to St Swithin. It is divided into a chancel, nave, and north and south aisle. The tower is of four stages, and is 64 feet in hight to the battlements. It is surmounted by 12 feet long pinnacles. The belfry contains six bells.
    The church of St. Swithin has a very old door with an immense lock leading to a delightfully unrestored interior with some fine examples of carved bench-ends, barrel roofs and some interesting 15th Century floor tiles from the Barnstaple potteries. The grave of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney lies here and 40 yards south of the church is the small but impressive well of St. Swithin.
  • Non-Conformist. There were Wesleyan Methodist and Bible Christian chapels at Grimscott.

Church Records

  • LDS Church Records.
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1708 - 1989, Burials 1708 - 1988, Marriages 1642 - 1977, Boyd's Marriage Index 1642 - 1812, Pallot's Index Index 1800 - 1812, BTs 1618 - 1673.
  • The Cornwall Family History Society have published on-line transcripts of
    • Pre 1813 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Burials.
  • Baptisms.
    • The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD, baptisms 1709 to 1842 for this parish which can be purchased on Parish Chest.
    • Baptisms in this parish 1608 to 1709 (Bishop's transcripts), and 1718 to 1912, are available on-line through the OPC Search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Marriages.
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Marriages 1618 to 1837, which is available in CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
    • Phillimore's marriages 1642 to 1812, and marriage transcriptions 1838 to 1913, for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Phillimore's Marriages of Launcells 1642 to 1812 are also available on-line from UK Genealogy Archives.
  • Burials.
    • Burials in this parish 1618 to 1804 (Bishop's transcripts), and 1708 to 1938, are available on-line through the OPC Search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Burials 1813 to 1837, which is available in Book and CD formats.

Civil Registration

The parish of Launcells is in the Stratton Registration District, and has been since 1st July 1837; there were sub-districts at Kilhampton, Stratton and Week St Mary but these have now been abolished. Parishes within the district are: Jacobstow, Kilkhampton, Launcells, Marhamchurch, Morwenstow, Poughill, Poundstock, St. Gennys, Stratton, Stratton and Bude, Week St. Mary, Whitstone. The Superintendant Registrar can be contacted at: The Parkhouse Centre, Ergue Gaberic Way, Bude, EX23 8LF. Tel: 01288 353209.


Description & Travel

    You can see pictures of Launcells which are provided by:



    The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

    "LAUNCELLS, a parish in the hundred of Stratton, county Cornwall, 1¼ mile S.E. of Stratton, its post town. It is situated on the Bude canal, and contains the hamlets of Grimscott, Prestacott, Cross, Butspur, and Hersham. Here was a cell to Hartland Abbey, which at the Dissolution came to the Chamonds of Launcells House, now extinct. The village is very irregularly built, and is entirely agricultural. The impropriate tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £280, and the vicarial for £220. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Exeter, value £181. The church, dedicated to St. Swithin, is an ancient stone structure with a lofty embattled and pinnacled tower containing six bells. The interior contains some carved sittings, and the altar tomb of Sir John Chamond, with a recumbent effigy. The charities produce about £2 per annum, which' goes to Orchard's almshouses, built for four poor persons. There is a National school for both sexes at Grimscott."



    OPC Assistance. The On-line Parish Clerk (OPC) scheme operates a service to help family historians; the OPC page for this parish is available on-line, from where the OPC can be contacted by email.


    Historical Geography

    The Domesday Settlements of Cornwall, a study undertaken by the Cornwall Branch of the Historical Association, has identified and located settlements listed in the Exeter and Exchequer Domesday Survey of AD 1086. The following places have been identified in Launcells ecclesiastical parish:



    You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SS256067 (Lat/Lon: 50.833243, -4.478474), Launcells which are provided by:


    Poor Houses, Poor Law

    • Launcells parish was part of the Stratton Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.
    • Overseers' Accounts (1707 to 1856) are available in the Cornwall Record Office.


    • Population in 1801 - 647 persons
    • Population in 1811 - 672 persons
    • Population in 1821 - 891 persons
    • Population in 1831 - 848 persons
    • Population in 1841 - 855 persons
    • Population in 1851 - 728 persons
    • Population in 1861 - 693 persons
    • Population in 1871 - 594 persons
    • Population in 1881 - 551 persons
    • Population in 1891 - 547 persons
    • Population in 1901 - 512 persons
    • Population in 1911 - 517 persons
    • Population in 1921 - 493 persons
    • Population in 1931 - 478 persons
    • Population in 1951 - 421 persons
    • Population in 1961 - 390 persons
    • Population in 1971 - 372 persons
    • Population in 1981 - 415 persons
    • Population in 1991 - 408 persons
    • Population in 2001 - 563 persons
    • Population in 2011 - 531 persons


    The parish comprises 6186 acres of land.