William Wise came from very humble beginnings, living in the parish workhouse when young. Encouraged by a teacher who saw his potential he took night classes, worked first as an errand boy and then as an apprentice in John Ching’s chemist’s shop. When qualified, he moved to Helston where he married. He then returned to Launceston where he became a partner in Ching’s before taking over the whole business. A successful businessman, he served as a town councillor and as Mayor of Launceston 3 times. He was a keen photographer, cyclist and bell-ringer but an even keener botanist and collected over 1000 plants which he identified, preserved and bound into the 6 great volumes on display at Lawrence House Museum.
This year, the William Wise exhibit has been modernised and updated.
Every week a new page is turned to reveal a plant in bloom for the time of year and is displayed alongside a photograph of the same plant.
Details of the plants he collected are available online at