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An aerial view of Brecqhou.

Brecqhou (or Brechou; French pronunciation: [ˈbʁɛku]) is one of the Channel Islands and part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. It is located just west of Sark and has a surface area of approximately 200 acres (0.31 sq mi). Sark claims it as a tenement, but these claims are disputed by the current tenants.

Contents

Name

A view of Brecqhou, from the north of Sark

The origin of the name is as follows: -hou as found in many island names around the Norman coast derives from Old Norse language holm (island or islet); brekka signifies a cliff or escarpment (cf. Bricquebec).

Geography

This is a map of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Brecqhou is just west of Sark.

The island is separated from Sark by an extremely narrow sound (Le Goulliot Passage) which, according to legend, has only once been traversed by boat in a high tide. However in reality it is traversed frequently by yachts during each summer and by fishing boats year round and even forms a part of the route taken by occasional powerboating events in the islands.

Tenants

The Barclay Brothers' recently-built mansion on Brecqhou

Since 1993 the tenement of Brecqhou has been owned by the Barclay brothers, the co-owners of The Daily Telegraph newspaper and former co-owners of The Scotsman. Under the Reform (Sark) Law 1951, the tenant is David Barclay. Since the purchase the Barclays have been in several legal disputes with the government of Sark, and have expressed a desire to make Brecqhou politically independent from Sark. They drive cars on the island, and have a helicopter, both of which are banned under Sark law.

In Sark, the word tenant is used, and often pronounced, as in French in the sense of feudal landholder rather than the common English meaning of lessee. The landholdings of Sark are held by 40 tenants representing the parcels of the 40 families who colonised Sark. As explained on the Sark government website [1]: "There is no true freehold, all land being held on perpetual lease (fief) from the Seigneur, and the 40 properties (Tenements) into which the Island is divided (as well as a few other holdings in perpetual fief) can only pass by strict rules of inheritance or by sale."

Flag and stamps

A view of Brecqhou, from the south east.

The former tenant, Leonard Joseph Matchan, had devised a personal flag (identical to the Sark flag, with the exception that the Matchan arms was emblazoned on the bottom right). Although frequently considered the island flag, this was only a personal flag, and is not in use any more.

Leonard Joseph Matchan had issued stamps in 1969. Matchan occupied Brecqhou until his death on October 6, 1987. The current tenants have issued postage stamps annually since 1999.

References

  • Le Dicotentin, Lepelley, Cherbourg 2001, ISBN 2-913920-06-3
  • BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names (Oxford UP, 1971)

Coordinates: 49°26′N 2°23′W / 49.433°N 2.383°W / 49.433; -2.383

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