Celtic GlorySpiritual

St Stephen’s

St Stephen the Martyr Church, nr Launceston

St Stephen’s church near Launceston Cornwall is on the site of an original Christian Celtic settlement. The very name Launceston comes from the words ‘lan’ = holy site, ‘Stephen’, ‘ton’= settlement.: The holy site of St Stephen. what is now the town of Launceston was originally known as Dunheved and St Stephen’s was a separate settlement. The parish church is dedicated to St Stephen the martyr.

We decided to visit the church to pray and see what God had to say. Initially it is obvious this was an original ‘lan’. The evidence of a raised circular enclosure is still present in the current graveyard with the church in the middle. We entered the church through an ancient door and took our time acclimatising to the church, to the atmosphere, to what God might be saying. However, fairly unusually at such sites, it felt empty. So instead we went outside and sat in the graveyard on a bench facing directly towards Launceston castle on the other side of the river.

Immediately I felt the peace of God and started to worship with joy. It was a very different experience to inside the church itself. I sometimes find this, that the presence of God remains within the ‘lan’ but not always the current building.

Anyway, for whatever reason, it was much easier to worship and pray outside. I really wasn’t expecting anything in particular but just enjoying the freedom to sing. However, I went into a vision and it was beautiful.

I saw two columns of angels robed in gold walking a green path from Launceston castle direction towards the church. They moved apart to then line the path and knelt, bowing their heads. I could sense someone was coming who should be honoured. I didn’t know what to expect. Was it Jesus? Was it Stephen?

What I actually saw was Jesus with his arm around a man (perhaps Stephen) and they were slowly walking the green path towards me. I sense and then can see, a large number of people following in procession behind them.

I heard God begin to speak, ‘This is his legacy.‘ ie Stephen. ‘Jesus is coming. Let’s go bring in the harvest’. I knew God was referring to the salvation of souls and that this was a response to prayers Stephen had prayed many centuries ago for people to come to know Jesus.

I can now see two demon guards with weapons crossed barring the way. Jesus pays them no attention but walks right through them, trampling them underfoot.

He continues speaking. ‘It is for freedom I came. Declare FREEDOM over Launceston. This is the gateway into Cornwall and into England.

In obedience we then went on to pray and declare FREEDOM as instructed.



The following extract is from Historic England Ancientmonuments.uk. It outlines the importance of this early medieval (Celtic) monastic site. I’ve included it for historical interest.

The monument comprises the only remaining open space not developed or
regularly disturbed within the boundaries of the enclosure for the early
medieval town of St Stephen's. Documentary sources confirm that it has been
open space since at least the early 18th century. It contains undisturbed
sub-surface foundations and deposits of the early medieval borough and
monastic site. The monument is situated on the crest of a spur on the north
side of the River Kensey valley.
Archaeological remains are visible as low earthworks, but more extensive
buried deposits have been identified through geophysical survey, including
features interpreted as stone structures and ditches. The remains of stone
building foundations were also discovered immediately west of the monument
during construction of the Church Hall in 1909. The site of the town's Saxon
mint has been traditionally located within the monument, but recent research
has identified the archaeological remains as belonging to the early medieval
monastery which played a central role in the foundation and development of the
town of St Stephen's. A section of the town's defensive enclosure crosses the
S edge of the area. The present church is thought to be on the site of the
early medieval church.
Place-name and documentary evidence provide the historical context for the
structures and deposits in the area. The original name 'Lanstefan' denotes an
origin as an early medieval Christian enclosed site. This grew to comprise a
monastery which, in common with several other Celtic monastic sites in western
Britain, became the focus for the development of an associated trading area.
By the 10th century, St Stephen's combined the monastery with a town
containing the only Cornish mint and, by implication, borough status. Its
growth also reflects the town's location close to the main land route into
Cornwall where it crosses the River Tamar. By the 11th century the town had a
market but, while remaining a borough, the market was removed in 1086 by the
Count of Mortain to his castle at Dunheved on the opposite side of the Kensey
valley. In the mid 12th century, the monastery was re-founded on a new site
in the valley floor at Newport and records of coinage from the mint cease.
The old monastic church was rebuilt and re-dedicated in the mid 13th century
to serve the parish of St Stephen's. The town appears to have continued to
survive as a borough and had a recorded 420 taxpayers in 1377, although by
this time its Domesday Book name of 'Lanscavetone' had migrated to the former
'Dunheved', developing into the present 'Launceston'. The surviving pattern
of property divisions in St Stephen's and early maps of the town suggest that
the later medieval and post-medieval settlement concentrated west of the
church, leaving the eastern half as open space, as this area remains today.
The modern post-and-wire fence and the septic tank outflow drain are excluded
from the scheduling, but the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The early post-Roman church in Celtic and Saxon Britain was organised around
either diocesan centres, normally ruled by bishops located in urban seats, or
monasteries. The former system had its origins in Britain in ecclesiastical
organisation established during the Roman period. The latter were largely a
post-Roman introduction influenced by developments in the eastern provinces of
the Roman Empire. Monasteries comprised enclosed religious communities led by
an abbot (for male foundations) or an abbess (for female foundations) in which
the inhabitants were obedient to a set of rules. The main feature of the
monastic buildings was the church, to which were attached a range of domestic
and other buildings in which the inhabitants lived and worked. Burial grounds
and garden areas were also included. Normally these were surrounded by some
form of boundary. No standard plan for the development of buildings existed
at this time, rather each site evolved to meet its particular needs. The
outward manifestations of monastic life included deliberate missionary work
and education. With the growing acceptance of Christianity monasteries became
popular institutions and many members of leading secular families joined them.
Because of increasing grants of wealth in the form of goods and lands given to
them out of pious respect for the new religion, many monasteries developed
into wealthy and powerful institutions, as a result of which they frequently
came to dominate local life. The requirements of managing their resources
often led their inhabitants to become involved in local trade and exchange,
and this frequently led to their development as foci for such activity.
Early monasteries are normally identified on the evidence of documentary
sources and, where the evidence is available, surviving archaeological
remains. The numbers of such early monasteries is not accurately known, but
they are relatively rare nationally and all of those where remains survive and
which can be linked to a specific site, as at St Stephen's, are considered to
be of national importance.
Additionally, the monument includes the last open and largely undeveloped area
within the early medieval town of St Stephen's. This town is historically
well-documented, indeed it was the earliest recorded town in Cornwall and the
only one to have held a mint.