Roman Catholic Church of St Cuthbert Mayne, memorial and attached walls and steps


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
St Stephen's Hill, Launceston, Cornwall, PL15 8XQ


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Statutory Address:
St Stephen's Hill, Launceston, Cornwall, PL15 8XQ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Roman Catholic Church designed by Arthur Langdon in a blend of Byzantine and Romanesque styles. It was built in 1911 by local mason F H Nicholls of Lewannick, with carpentry by J H Harry, the oak doors by Mr Clifton of Ashwater, and the copper dome by T Chapman (Junior) of Launceston. The Lady Chapel was added in 1933.

Reasons for Designation

The Church of St Cuthbert Mayne, memorial and attached walls and steps, designed by Arthur Langdon in the Byzantine-Romanesque style and built in 1911, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: it is an assured example of an early-C20 Catholic church in the Byzantine-Romanesque style of architecture with interesting massing, good detailing with well-realised features; * Intactness: the church survives in a remarkable state of intactness and with the exception of the addition of the Lady Chapel which has a similar decorative treatment, has been almost entirely unaltered since its completion; * Artistic interest: the stone carving throughout the building is of high quality exhibiting good craftsmanship and includes a Polyphant stone font by the architect, Arthur Langdon; * Historic interest: the church has historic interest for its relationship with the Cornish antiquarian Arthur Langdon and its role as the national shrine to St Cuthbert Mayne; * Grouping: the church, memorial and boundary walls form a coherent group.


The mission at Launceston was established in 1886 at Kensey Villa (the present presbytery) by the Rev. Charles Baskerville Langdon. This was also the year of the beatification of Cuthbert Mayne by Pope Leo XIII. In 1887 a temporary church and stables were built next door to the presbytery. In 1911, the permanent Church of the English Martyrs, designed by Arthur Langdon, Charles Langdon’s brother, was erected. There are no other known works by Arthur Langdon who appears to have been an antiquary, best known for his publication Old Cornish Crosses (1896). However, he also designed some memorial crosses in the Celtic style, including those in the churchyard at St Stephen-by-Launceston and a large Boer War memorial of Polyphant stone at Haverfordwest, Dyfed (1904). Langdon’s professional residence was in London.

In 1921 Fr Richard McElroy furnished the Chapel and Shrine of St Cuthbert Mayne, who was executed in Launceston in 1577 for his Catholic faith. In 1933 a Lady Chapel was added to the south side of the nave, and two years later Bishop Barrett consecrated the church, dedicating it to the newly-canonised St John Fisher and St Thomas More, and to the Blessed English Martyrs. In 1970 Pope Paul VI canonised the forty English martyrs, including Cuthbert Mayne, and the church was rededicated to St Cuthbert Mayne in 1977 and became the national shrine. The high altar was moved forward in the 1970s.

The temporary, corrugated iron, church and stables is now (2013) derelict and the central bell turret and original decorative scheme have been removed. The presbytery has been altered in the late C20 and a church hall has been incorporated to the rear of the building.


MATERIALS: it is constructed of dressed stones including Slate stone and Polyphant stone, to give a polychrome effect. It has slate covered roofs with coped gable ends or moulded eaves cornices; a copper dome at the east end and a leaded half-dome at the west end; flat roof over the Lady Chapel. Cast iron guttering with the initials CBL (Charles Baskerville Langdon) to the hopperheads. PLAN: orientated approximately west to east and consists of a nave with domed chancel to the east end and an apsidal baptistery to the west end. To the north is the Chapel and Shrine to St Cuthbert Mayne and the two-storey vestry. To the south is the porch and Lady Chapel.

EXTERIOR: an irregular appearance with varied eaves lines and window types. The west elevation comprises a round-arched gable end with Diocletian window to the centre with reticulated tracery, beneath which is the apsidal baptistery with a lead-covered roof. To the right-hand side is a round-arch headed bellcote. The porch to the south has a three-light, flat-faced mullion window with shouldered, round-arched heads and Art Nouveau style lead work; there is a doorway to the right return. To the right of the porch is a plate tracery window with Art Nouveau style leaded lights, beneath a Romanesque arch. The window is arranged as two lights with shouldered, round-arched heads and a square-headed light above with an inverted, shouldered round-arched base (this window is repeated to the Lady Chapel and the north elevation). To the right is an intersecting tracery rose window. The Lady Chapel forms a flat-roofed projection to the east end of the south elevation, with a plate tracery window beneath a Romanesque arch to its west return. To the east end is the chancel with domed, copper roof and moulded eaves cornice with billet detail. The chancel has four windows with shouldered, round-arched heads. To the right-hand end of the north elevation is the two-storey vestry with coped, gable ends and an intersecting tracery rose window to the east gable. The upper floor is approached by steps with coped walls leading to an open timber porch on a landing with a half-segmental arch. To the ground and first floors is an arrangement of a four-light, double-chamfered, stone mullion windows with leaded lights. To the west of the vestry is the Chapel and Shrine of St Cuthbert and to the gable end is a three-light, chamfered, stone mullion window with carved shouldered, round-arched heads above, and an oculus window to the gable. To the left is a plate tracery window beneath a Romanesque arch and a boiler house.

INTERIOR: snecked Polyphant stone walls with a plastered, barrel-vaulted ceiling with a moulded cornice with billet enrichment. The chancel is denoted by a semi-circular chancel arch with billet decoration and supported on polished Polyphant stone columns with cushion capitals, with each side of the capital depicting a different Christian symbol. To the north side of the church is the organ with sedilla below, to the right of which is a flat-headed doorway to the vestry with a round-arched tympanum with billet detailing. Above the doorway is a Diocletian window with reticulated tracery. To the left-hand side is the round-arched opening with billet detailing to the Chapel and Shrine of St Cuthbert Mayne, with carved panelling to the reveals. To the west wall of the chapel is an arcade to the three-light window, with carved shouldered, round-arched heads above. To the south side of the church is a flat-headed doorway with chequerboard detailing to the surround and a moulded cornice above, leading to the Lady Chapel with coffered ceiling. To the left is an arched opening to the Lady Chapel with wrought iron railing. The south porch includes a corresponding stone arcade to the three-light window.

FITTINGS: the high altar is constructed of granite supported on polished Polyphant stone columns with granite cushion capitals. The font, designed by Arthur Langdon, is of polished Polyphant stone with ornately-carved Celtic decoration to the bowl, over a shaft decorated with fish. Two aedicule framed niches in the Chapel and Shrine of St Cuthbert Mayne, that to the east wall forms part of the reredos to the marble altar. To either side of the niche are ceramic medallions. The marble altar to the Lady Chapel has a Romanesque arch above containing a round glazed ceramic of the Virgin and Child. To the south side of the church are the Stations of the Cross, given in memory of Arthur Langdon.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: south porch forecourt with low granite-coped walls. Granite steps and bridge on half-segmental arch to vestry. Celtic cross memorial to Charles Baskerville Langdon at west end of Lady Chapel.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Woodhead, S , Illustrated Guide to the Catholic Churches of the Diocese of Plymouth, (1992), 128-131
Arthur Wills, revised and updated by Fr. David Annear, A Short History of the Catholic Parish of St. Cuthbert Mayne, Launceston, Cornwall, November 2012, A Short History of the Catholic Parish of St Cuthbert Mayne, Launceston, Cornwall
Cornwall and Scilly Historic Environment Record: 170508 - MCO46486 ,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 26 Mar 2002
Reference: IOE01/05131/19
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Bryon J. Mason. Source Historic England Archive
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