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A Church Near You
Launcells parish is very much a farming community which, over recent years, like all farming communities, has, through mechanisation, seen a marked reduction in its employment levels.
Totally rural, the parish has a population of nearly 600 people and an area of some 6,200 acres, with just one small community at Grimscott which has a vibrant parish hall (with catering facilities) and which acts as a hub for social, recreational and fundraising parish activities.
Within the parish the only major activities are its farms, a Retirement Home and a large Garden centre which is on the parish border with Stratton.
The name Launcells or ‘Lancellys’ as it was probably known, means the Church of Cellys. It is likely that there was a Celtic Monastery on the site and St. Swithin’s Holy Well is by the bridge south of the church.
The Manor of Launcells was mentioned in the Domesday Book, 1085. Launcells church was first mentioned about 1200 when it was appropriated to the Abbey of Hartland. The font is early Norman. The church was first dedicated to St. Andrew and then rededicated to St. Swithin in 1321. The church was reconstructed in the C15, the granite north arcade being slightly later than the south arcade, which is of Polyphant. The porch still contains its old seats and holy water stoup. The windows have perpendicular tracery and clear glass, some of which is very old. Those in the north aisle have been reconstructed.
The original C15 wagon roofs survive, those in the aisles having carved wall plates, purlins and bosses. The stairway to the former roof loft is in the north aisle. One painted panel survives of the original rood screen. The chancel is paved with C15 Barnstaple encaustic tiles. There are over 60 carved bench ends of C16 date. On the west wall is a wall painting, recently conserved of Abraham and Isaac depicted in Tudor Costume and it is likely that there are paintings under the rest of the wall plaster.
The oldest tombstone, at the entrance to the S porch is dated 1574 and the Chamond monument in the SE of the chancel is dated 1624. There is a Royal Coat of Arms of Charles II. The oldest of the 6 bells is dated 1751. The pulpit and tester, and box pews in the north aide are Georgian. In the churchyard three chest tombs are listed. They date from late C16 to mid Cl8. (Henderson, Sedding, Cox, Pevsner, Lake/Polsue, Shearme, Dowling, Listing description).