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Launcells Parish Council

History Group

History Group update and plans

The History Group met on May 30th in the History Room (Freda’s Room) at the Parish Hall.

After a brief discussion of some admin matters, we moved onto the more interesting topics of potential events and activities we would like to organise and hopefully, open up to non-members. These range from guided walks in and around the Parish, to family history workshops and very excitingly, a metal detecting demonstration.

Sharon and I joined the Launceston Detectorists Group in April. We don’t yet have our own detectors, but want to learn more about the hobby, including how to detect responsibly and what to look for when buying a detector.  The Launceston Detectorists group are a hobbyist group and are keen to learn more about and protect the history of the area. They also offer a ring finding (or other lost metal bits) service and have raised considerable sums of money for the Air Ambulance, MS Society, RNLI and St Lukes Hospice over the years.

The Detectorists group chair, Keith Sampson, has family links with Launcells, and is very keen to come and do a demonstration for anyone who is interested and so watch this space as we will agree a date with Keith and set up an event.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 18th July at 6.30pm at the Parish Hall.

Table with detectorist finds laid out, alongside images of a demonstration

Suzanne Littlejohns

Launcells Celebrates

As we celebrate one year since King Charles III was crowned, we are probably all remembering how we celebrated his coronation—perhaps you attended the Coronation Lunch in Launcells Parish Hall where your child or grandchild might have received a Coronation Mug. However, Launcells History Group would like to invite you to look even further back, seventy-one years further back, in fact…

We recently came across an old book of minutes from Parish Council meetings, the final entries of which are from 1953 and tell the story of how Launcells celebrated the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, as recorded by Mr J. C. Stoney, Mrs L. Stedwill and Rev. William Brooks. I have transcribed a slightly abridged version below, with some notes of my own as appropriate.

1952 – A Parish Meeting was held on Friday Nov 21st in Grimscott Schoolroom at 7:30 p.m.

The weather was rather stormy, but there was a fair attendance. Mr T. C. Honey occupied the chair.

The chairman explained that the meeting had been called to take some preliminary steps in regard to the Coronation of H.M. Queen Elizabeth, on June 2nd 1953. It was proposed by Mr. L. Stedwill and seconded by Mr. A. Gliddon that a Whist Drive should be held before Christmas in order to open a Fund with which to meet expenses, which will of necessity be required for the occasion. Carried unanimously.

It was agreed to appoint a committee to carry out the “W.D.” and such other entertainments as may be thought suitable, for the raising of funds.

1953 – Parish meeting held in Grimscott Schoolroom on Friday February 27th at 7:30 p.m.

The attendance was only moderate, there being 17 including the chairman, Mr T.C. Honey, and the clerk, the Rev. Wm. Brooks. Apologies were received from Mr J.C. Bines & Mr G.J. Cursons for their non-attendance.

The chairman explained that the meeting had been called to consider arrangements for Coronation celebrations in Launcells, on Tuesday June 2nd.

The meeting decided that there should be a Service in the Open Air in Grimscott Schoolyard at 2 o’clock on the day of the Coronation, Tuesday June 2nd, but if the weather should be unfavourable, it should be held in the Chapel.

Sports and Tea: Immediately following the Service at 2:45 the Sports would begin, to be followed by Tea at 4 p.m., the children to be served first.

Flags & Bunting: The entertainments committee were allowed a grant of £5 to procure flags & bunting for the village, but in addition, people would be expected to display something suitable.

Souvenirs: Mrs. W. G. Stedwill was asked to write for samples–a cup & saucer and a mug, and the General Committee would decide which to buy.

Statement of accounts: Mr J. Dinner presented an account showing that the Entertainments Committee had raised over £30 towards defraying the expenses of the celebrations. This was a very gratifying result & warmly received.

Editor’s note: The rest of the meeting was taken up with the formation of both a tea committee—all ladies, of course—and a General Coronation Committee. Notably, the 17 people present signed up no fewer than 29 names to the General Committee; Mr G Cursons and Mr J C Bines who had sent their apologies for their absence were repaid with the positions of Chairman and Treasurer, respectively. Mr Bines was thus obliged to send further apologies for not being able to accept, and the role was passed to Mr Bird instead (sadly, the minutes do not relate whether or not Mr Bird’s participation was voluntary). We can, at least, be certain that the secretary of the Entertainments Committee, Mrs W. G. Stedwill, was diligent in her duty. Within three weeks of this meeting, she hosted another at her own house:

March 17th  Meeting of the Coronation General Committee held at Mrs Stedwill’s, Grimscott at 8pm.

Fifteen members attended. Mr G Cursons occupied the chair.
Mrs Stedwill submitted samples of souvenirs and it was decided to purchase a cup and saucer with a plate & that sufficient should be ordered to present to each child a set of the same up to the age of 15 years. Bunting to the value of £2 was sanctioned. Mrs Stedwill to order it as per prices quoted to her.

A meeting of the Coronation Committee was held on Wednesday April 14th in the Grimscott School.

Mr G. J. Cursons presided over a good attendance.

It was agreed to set up a small committee to arrange about Sports, Fancy Dress Parade and a Football Match.

It was decided to allocate £26 to Mrs F. Colwill for the Teas and £16 to the Sports Committee.

May 19th - A further meeting was held with Mr. Cursons in the chair.

The arrangements so far made for celebrating the Coronation were agreed to unanimously. A number of small handbills were ordered, about 200 giving details of the proceedings for the day, and the Entertainment Committee undertook to see to their distribution, a footnote on the bills stated that the Committee would not be responsible for any accidents that might occur.

Mrs Cursons was invited to present the souvenirs to the children.
The vicar, the Rev. Wm Brooks was reimbursed 10p for Service Forms, which he had purchased for use at the Open Air Service in the Schoolyard on the afternoon of June 2nd, Coronation day.

Partial transcription from a newspaper report of the day:

The Coronation celebrations commenced with a united service in the School playground, conducted by Vicar (Rev. W. Brooks) and Mr. L. Moore. Sports followed, in a field lent by Mr. W. Stedwill, and every child received a prize. Tea was laid in the Day School for the children, followed by the adults’ tea. Afterwards, the youngsters were presented with their souvenirs (cup, saucer and plate). Before this event, Mr T.C. Honey (chairman of the Parish Council) spoke a few words and introduced Mrs Cursons (wife of the Coronation Committee chairman), who made the presentations. She received a bouquet from little Sheila Heard.

Launcells Coronaton Celebrations programme of events poster

Events listed in the image: United Service, Children's Sports, Children's Tea, Adult's Tea, Fancy Dress Parade, Lighting of Bonfire.

Public Meeting called for July 24th at 7:30 p.m. in Grimscott Schoolroom.

Treasurer’s report: Mr. G. Bird said that there was a balance in hand of £15.11.5 and on the proposition of Mr. J. C. Bines, seconded by Mr. F. Colwill, it was decided to divide it equally between the Church, the Chapel and the proposed Village Hall, in commemoration of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth the 2nd.

Vote of Thanks: A very hearty vote of thanks was accorded to all workers for a most successful day of celebrations. Everything passed off splendidly. The weather was fine but rather cold. A bonfire lighted by Mr. Cursons about 9:30 p.m. brought a happy & memorable day to a close.

Copy of the statement for the Launcells Coronation

The General Coronation Committee:

  • Mr. G. J. Cursons, Chairman
  • Mr. G. Bird,Treasurer
  • Mr. F. Dinner, Secretary (with Mrs L. Stedwill)
  • Mr. R. C. Hunt
  • Mr. E. J. Honey Junr
  • Mr. F. T. Bassett
  • Mr. E. Blight
  • Mr. Doyne-Ditmas
  • Mr. J. Daw
  • Mr. Allin
  • Mr. A. Gliddon
  • Mr. L. J. Moore
  • Mr. S. Gliddon
  • Mr. A. Cleave
  • Mr. L. Stedwill
  • Mr. C. Stedwill
  • Mr. L. Fox
  • Mr. A. Sillifant
  • Mr. F. Colwill
  • Mr. R. Pearce
  • Mr. H. Heard
  • Mr. Ed. Brooks
  • Mr. A. Cann
  • Mr. J. C. Bines
  • Mr. K. Wickett
  • Mr. Westlake
  • Mr. L. Searle
  • Mr. L. J. Yelland
  • Mr. R. Gunn

(And their families)

Sarah Freeman - Launcells History Group

Launcells historical recipes - Part 2

The History Group archive, contains a wealth of fascinating documents and records about the parish and local families. Each month we plan to share something, hopefully of interest, in the magazine.

Following on from last month, when tantalising recipes with ingredients such as rooks, larks and sparrows featured; this month we delve again into the Launcells Book of Recipes (1910), to look at a couple of more conventional examples. Another point of interest in the recipe book are the advertisements for local shops and businesses of the day, and I’ve included an example on this page.

We start with Oswigo Cake from Mrs T.M. Bray. I looked into this curious name and found that it almost certainly refers to a city called Oswego on Lake Ontario in New York State. Given that during the nineteenth and early twentieth century many people from this area migrated to Canada and the US, it can be assumed that there was a family connection to someone who had migrated there. Or maybe Mrs Bray, just liked the quirkiness of the word Oswigo. Sadly, the name may have been more exotic than the cakes whose ingredients consists of flour, sugar, butter, eggs and baking powder to be baked in patty tins. So Oswigo cakes are basically a very simple plain bun.

Another sweet and definitely more exotic recipe comes from Miss Cottle of Kilkhampton, in the form of a Pineapple Trifle. A small tin of pineapple and small sponge cakes are used along with custard and decorated with ratafias and cherries. The pineapple juice is used to soak the sponges and custard is poured over. Maybe even Oswigo cakes came in handy to be jazzed up in this recipe! Interesting to think that 114 years ago the people of Launcells were enjoying tinned pineapple and ratafias.

Page from a book advertising Mrs S J Oke latest and up-to-date novelties, millinery dresses, tailor made costumes, skirts and blouses. Holsworthy.

Suzanne Littlejohns

Masterchef Launcells 1910

The cover of Launcells Book of Recipies 1910Looking through some Launcells Parish records, Sharon and I came across an interesting book called “The Launcells Parish Recipe Book’ dating from 1910. It was interesting to me personally, as one of the recipes, ‘Mock Duck’ was submitted my Great-Grandmother, Mrs J Littlejohns of Hersham. There were also recipes from other relatives from Morwenstow and Hersham.

But as I sit here in Hersham in 2024, watching wild birds feeding in the garden, my attention was caught by 2 recipes, submitted by a Mrs Hodge of America. The first being titled ‘Pie of Lark or Sparrow' and the other ‘Rook Pie’. So I thought I’d share these exciting recipes in the magazine for amusement and interest, and in the hope that nobody decides to start harvesting sparrows for a pie!

Pie of Lark or Sparrows

Time to bake 1 and half hours.

A dozen small birds, a rump steak, small bunch of savoy herbs, peel of half a lemon, slice of stale bread, half a cup of milk, 6 eggs, salt and pepper, 2oz butter and some puff pastry.

Make a forcemeat with the bread soaked in milk and beaten up, the herbs chopped fine and the lemon peel, mixed with the salt and pepper butter and egg yolks. Mix together in a stew pan and stir over the fire until it becomes very stiff then fill the inside of the small birds.

Line a pie dish with the rump steak, seasoned with salt and pepper and fried lightly. Place the birds on it and cover with the yolks of hard boiled eggs sliced and pour on a sufficient quantity of gravy. Cover with pastry, brush with egg yolk and make a hole in the top, Bake

Rook Pie

Rooks must be skinned and stewed in milk and water before being put into the pie dish, they may then be treated as pigeons. Epicures assert that only the breast must be used, but if when the rook is drawn and skinned it is laid in its breast and an incision made on each side of the spine of a finger width, and that piece being removed, the whole of the bird is wholesome food, that being the really bitter part.

4 rooks, half pound puff pastry, pepper, salt, 3 hard boiled eggs, 2oz butter, a small piece of rump steak. Lay the rump steak in the pie dish, cut the rooks as directed, and lay them in the dish well seasoned, add the butter in knobs and some hard boiled eggs. Bake as you would a pigeon pie.

I hope you enjoyed reading these recipes, there are several more recipes that appear very odd to modern eyes, and many which are more familiar. I will share some more in coming months.

Suzanne Littlejohns

‘Show and Tell’ on Thursday 6th July

On Thursday 6th July Launcells History Group held a ‘Show and Tell’ evening at The New Inn, Kilkhampton.

It was run as a social evening open to anyone who wanted to come along to show us and talk about things they may have found perhaps out on a walk, or in the garden or even something they’ve discovered about a member of their family.

We had an array of objects from pieces of pottery and broken Codd Bottles, a lemonade glass bottle, a booklet from a church that someone had visited for the first time and even some medals from a lady who worked at Bletchley Park during the war. I also had a parishioner contact me with photos of objects found in a local ploughed field. One object proved to be of particular interest but that deserves it’s own article in future.

Whilst we were talking, there were 2 tables of holiday makers sat near us enjoying their meals. One of the groups as they left, commented on how they enjoyed listening to our conversations and apologised for eavesdropping.

The other table, a couple from Market Harborough also commented as they were leaving that they really enjoyed listening to us. We explained we were Launcells History Group and they said they used to stay at a B&B in Launcells about 40 years ago with a couple called Eric and Irene. I asked them if it was a big white house on the top of a hill and very windy at times? They replied yes. I said it was Woodhall at the top of Leigh Hills in Hersham. I can just about remember Eric and Irene Heywood (I think that was their last name) who owned Woodhall. They also knew a few other parishioners from over the years, so we had a lovely chat with them. We had an enjoyable few hours sharing stories of our finds and chatting to holiday makers.

With autumn approaching we will hopefully organise some more events soon. Follow us on Facebook - Launcells History Group and watch out for
details of future events in here as well.

Sharon Jenkins
Launcells History Group

On a walk recently with Suzanne Littlejohns we found lots of sherds and this got us thinking. We were talking about organising a History group meeting and we thought about things that people have found, whether it’s something they’ve found in the garden, out on a walk or even something such as a book in a shop. So, we are holding a History Group social where anyone can join us, share their finds, if you have an unknown item maybe we can solve its mystery.

Launcells History Group “Show and Tell”

Come along for a social evening on Thursday 6th July

At The New Inn, Kilkhampton 7.30pm

Bring your finds to show and tell us all about them. Eg. Pottery Sherds, Glass Shards, Unusual finds.

Or just come along to chat and see what others have found.

Find us on Facebook : Launcells History Group

Sharon Jenkins

Launcells History Group news by Suzanne Littlejohns

Old Cornwall magazineCrossThe group met in the Parish Hall on 5th January, when some business regarding the new Treasurer and signatory’s role was concluded as well as some discussion around funds and how the group will manage outgoings and come up with ideas for future fundraising.  We also discussed the archives and archiving progress as well as the need to review the group’s constitution. All matters raised and discussed achieved consensus among those present and dates for future meetings were agreed.

We accepted into the archive, some donations kindly made by Helen Bartrop-Hocking last year. This comprises 2 books and 2 periodicals published by the Old Cornwall Society. One of the Old Cornwall periodicals, dating from Spring 2021, contains an interesting and detailed article about a somewhat eccentric sounding Parson of Launcells. Parson Black  (Vicar from 1873-1914). The article includes detail about parish life of the period and some of the challenges Parson Black seems to have had fitting in with the local community.  He seems to have persevered for over 40 years though, and passed away while still the incumbent vicar in Oct 1914. He is buried in Launcells Churchyard in quite a prominent spot and memorial next to the church.

The History group welcomes new members and those interested in finding out more about the group.

The upcoming meetings are at:
1.30pm on Saturday 18th Feb at the Red Post Inn
7.30 pm on Thursday 16th March at the Parish Hall
Further dates to follow.

Contact for queries is Secretary Dee Wynne-Morter 07974 627414

Launcells History Group - update

The group met at the Red Post Inn on 12th November to formalise the appointment of our new treasurer, Will Shingler. We also confirmed Dee Wynne-Morter as an additional account signatory.  This will now allow us to organise our finances and move forward with some planned events in the parish in 2023.  We will be taking advantage of the Bude & Stratton Post’s new ‘Events Page’ to advertise events where we think they will have wider appeal.

We came up with a list of events we want to organise next year, including a spring wild flower and history walk around the churchyard. We have a few parish history  topics to delve into such as the non-conformist (Methodist) chapels and capturing more stories from Launcells history from the last 80 years or so.  We also want to try and have an historically themed film night at the Parish Hall next year.

We have 2 meetings booked for next year with more dates to follow:

  • January -  Parish Hall at 7 for 7.30pm on Thursday 5th January
  • February - Red Post Inn at 1pm Saturday 18th February

If you are interested in finding out more about the group or joining us contact Dee Wynne-Morter on 01288 381887 or

Suzanne Littlejohns (History Group Chair)


A talk on the history of St Swithin’s church by Lilian Quinn

People sitting in churchSaturday September 24th saw the History Group, plus a few guests, meeting at St Swithin’s for Lilian Quinn’s talk on the church and its history as well role in stories about parish events and folk.

Lilian entitled her talk ‘History starts but never ends’ and brought to us stories from the archives of Hartland Abbey, to which there are early links, right through to the 20th and 21st centuries with the information that the long abandoned crypt may have been filled with sand from Bude beaches several decades ago, when there was a risk of its collapse.

Lilian has a huge wealth of interesting facts about our beautiful church and really brought her talk to life by adding interesting stories and even the occasional mystery.

We also found out about many of the architectural and internal features such as the very ancient pew end carvings and font as well as the tantalising half uncovered wall paintings and letter to the people of Cornwall from an earlier King Charles.

At the end of the talk Lilian walked us around some of her favourite features including the beautiful Barnstaple tiles in the chancel, belfry screen and other fine carved wooden panels.

Donations were made to the church by the attendees and a number of copies of the new edition of the ‘History of St Swithin’s Church’ were snapped up as we chatted and enjoyed coffee and biscuits. Further copies of this new edition are available from the church.

A huge thank you to Lilian for her wonderful talk which she had prepared so meticulously to share with us all. With her permission we will be typing up Lilian’s comprehensive notes for the parish archives.  A big thank you also goes to the group members, Dee and Jan Hunt, who organised the refreshments.


Watch this space for information on further History Group meetings and events.

Suzanne Littlejohns, Chair, Launcells History Group



A story that was recently shared in the parish magazine.

Nigel & Hugh Reid have recently completed their Chamond article on the memorial that can be found at St. Swithins Church.  Please click here to read the full article.


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