Launceston Lock-Up

Overview

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Overview

Alternative Names   South Gate

Nation   England

County   Cornwall

Location   South Gate, Southgate Street,  Launceston

Map location   exact or closely approximate

Year opened   Unknown

Year closed   Early 19th Century

Century of Operation   1700-1799, 1800-1899

Building Type   Town gate

Remarks   Grade I listed. Gate built in 14th century but lock-up and gaol use believed to have begun in 18th century

Descriptions

'Town gate. C14, slightly remodelled C17, pedestrian gate added 1887. Dressed volcanic agglomerate stone and greenstone to lower half, otherwise slatestone rubble with volcanic agglomerate dressings plus C17 granite dressings; pyramidal rag slate roof behind late C19 embattled parapet; stone stack over left-hand (west) wall removed C20: two square rooms over main gateway approached by stone staircase bridging smaller gateway. 3 storeys; 1-window range outer elevation and similar inner elevation. Both elevations have 2 chamfered pointed arches, the main arch fronting ribbed vaults; C17 three-light granite mullions with hoodmoulds to upper floors. Outer SE front has narrower pedestrian gateway on its left and main gateway with portcullis slots over. To outer side of passage are remnants of arch dated 1639 and fragments of tracery. Water point dated 1825 and inscribed "PCH" for Parr Cunningham Hocking, Mayor of that time, to right of inner elevation; this was the towns first public water supply. INTERIOR not inspected. HISTORY: until the early C19 the rooms of the South Gate were used as a gaol for petty offenders and a prison for debtors. (Robbins AF: Launceston, Past and Present: Launceston: 1888-: P.302). '

Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 'The South Gate, Southgate Place', Launceston, LEN1298820

'The early eighteen hundreds saw it as a house of detention – a gaol for petty offenders and a prison for debtors. The top storey was for debtors but this was rarely used because of the scandalous conditions; rather than confine them in such a dungeon many local tradesmen let their debtors go free. The lower room was for criminals and, like the room above, was in a filthy and dilapidated state. No fire was allowed, sanitary conveniences were unknown and water had to be brought in by the jailer when it suited him to do so.'

Launceston Then! 'The Three Gates and Town Wall' (http://launcestonthen.co.uk/index.php/the-place/the-three-gates-and-town-wall/)

Featured Images

  • Launceston - The South GatePhoto © Rob Farrow (cc-by-sa/2.0)

SOURCES

    Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 'The South Gate, Southgate Place', Launceston, LEN1298820

  • https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1298820
  • Roy's Blog, 'CORNWALL. Lock-ups at Callington, Cambourne and Launceston.' (01 May 2013)

  • http://roys-roy.blogspot.com/2013/05/lock-ups-at-callington-cambourne-and.html
  • Launceston Then! 'The Three Gates and Town Wall'

  • http://launcestonthen.co.uk/index.php/the-place/the-three-gates-and-town-wall/
  • Leslie Brooke, Some West-Country Lock-Ups (Castle Cary, Fox Publications, 1985), pp. 5, 23 & 25 (sketches)

ARCHIVES

Archive name: Cornwall Record Office

Catalogue ref: BLAUS/242-271

Collection: Borough of Launceston

Description: Information on orders for the Gaol, including tithes for bread, and some information on prisoners, eg escape and arrest of prisoner from Darkhouse (1803)

Dates: 1803-1833


Archive name: Cornwall Record Office

Catalogue ref: T/2641

Collection: Tremayne family of Heligan, St Ewe

Description: Letter from J H Tremayne to Reverend Henry Hawkins Tremayne, visit to Launceston Gaol

Dates: 1822


Comments

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