Born in Launceston in 1917, Charles Causley is one of Britain's finest poets and his life is celebrated in the town each year at the Charles Causley Festival. Head down to mid-Cornwall on the second weekend in June and join in this excellent literary event which includes poetry readings, author showcases, drama and live music. Events take place over five days from Thursday through Monday.
More about Launceston
The historic town of Launceston is a real treasure to visit, especially when the extensive Charles Causley Festival of Literature and the Arts is on. Known as the “Gateway to Cornwall”, this quiet market town was once the capital of Cornwall and the site of an early mint for coins. Launceston still retains a small section of the old town walls and the town centre traffic runs through Southgate on a one-way system.
Located between Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor, Launceston is quintessentially Cornish with narrow granite-paved streets winding around the castle and the market square. The beautifully carved granite exterior of St Mary Magdalene Church was designed in 1511 by Henry Trecarrell and it is quite unique.
The many Georgian houses lining the streets add to the historic atmosphere of this charming place. High on the hill is the outline of Launceston Castle, built just after the 11th century Norman Conquest. It was used as the local Assizes or courts and the jail was in the north gatehouse. The impressive ruins are open to the public for tours.
If you want to learn more about local resident Charles Causley, there is a permanent exhibition about his life and works at the Lawrence House Museum. The poet lived in the old house known as Cyprus Well in Launceston in the early 20th century.
The Charles Causley Festival 2014 highlights
Festival highlights include an informal talk by Paul Tyler about How to Get Published. An afternoon with former MP Ann Widdecombe includes hearing excerpts from her autobiography and listening to her talk about her new career as a novelist.
Share your own words at the Poetry Tent and listen to other local poets. Two ticketed events in Launceston Town Hall are to watch films set in Cornwall: About the Land and A Congregation of Ghosts starring Edward Woodward.
Over the weekend, Causley at the Castle is aimed at families with demonstrations from many action-sport athletes while the performance of Gogmagog will be held on Castle Green. Sunday is Railway Day when trips on the Launceston Steam Railway combine with poetry readings and talks, all for the usual ticket price.
You can support Mavis Cheek In Conversation, hear more acclaimed poetry readings or watch a George Bernard Shaw narrative of Playing the Clown. At the White Horse Inn, the Bookshop Band will play songs inspired by books.
A new diversion for 2014 sees a Food, Drink and Craft Market springing up in bars, restaurants and on the historic streets of the town providing a great shopping and eating experience if you are visiting the festival.
Take a walk with a local historian around the local places associated with Charles Causley, or improve your talents by attending a Poetry Therapy Workshop. On Saturday evening there's poetry and music from prizewinning Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and Little Machine.
Poets mark the centenary of the start of World War 1
To mark the centenary of the start of World War 1, the festival will have some interesting events for history lovers. War poetry specialist David Roberts will talk on Soldier Poets of Today; John Greening will read from his new poetry collection To the War Poets while Peter London will lecture on Cornwall in the First World War, all taking place in the grand Launceston Guildhall.
Cornish tunes, Morris dancing, comedy and drama all celebrate Cornwall's heritage along with local craft demonstrations in this excellent literary festival. I'm sure Charles Causley would have approved of them all!
Do you know Launceston as a local or as a tourist? Perhaps you would like to describe this historic town to potential visitors. If you know of other Poetry or Arts Festivals in Cornwall, we'd love you to share the details below.