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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A map of the location of the Channel Islands, located between southern Great Britain and Northern France.

The Channel Islands (Norman: Îles d'la Manche, French: Îles Anglo-Normandes or Îles de la Manche) are an archipelago in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey. According to the official website of the British Monarchy, they are British Crown dependencies, but neither is part of the United Kingdom; rather they are considered the remnants of the Duchy of Normandy.[1] They have a total population of about 158,000. Their respective capitals, St. Peter Port and St. Helier, have populations of 16,488 and 28,310.

The Bailiwicks have been administered separately from each other since the late 13th century, and although those unacquainted with the islands often assume they form one political unit, common institutions are the exception rather than the rule. The two Bailiwicks have no common laws, no common elections, and no common representative body (although their politicians consult regularly). There is no common newspaper or radio station, but a common television station, ITV Channel Television, as well as a common BBC television news opt-out BBC Channel Islands News.



Map of Channel Islands and adjacent coast of France.
Viewed from Jersey's north coast, Jethou, Herm and Sark are hazy outlines on the horizon.

The inhabited islands of the Channel Islands are Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm (the main islands); Jethou, Brecqhou (Brechou), and Lihou. All of these except Jersey are in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. In addition there are the following uninhabited islets: the Minquiers, Écréhous, Les Dirouilles and Les Pierres de Lecq (the Paternosters), are part of the Bailiwick of Jersey, and Burhou and the Casquets lie off Alderney. As a general rule, the larger islands have the -ey suffix, and the smaller ones have the -hou suffix; this is believed to be from the Old Norse ey and holmr, respectively.

The Chausey Islands south of Jersey are not generally included in the geographical definition of the Channel Islands but occasionally described as 'French Channel Islands' in English in view of their French jurisdiction. They were historically linked to the Duchy of Normandy, but they are part of the French territory along with continental Normandy, and not part of the British Isles or of the Channel Islands in a political sense. They are an incorporated part of the commune of Granville (Manche). While popular with visitors from France they are rarely visited by Channel Islanders, as there are no direct transport links from the other islands.

In official Jersey French (see Jersey Legal French), the islands are called 'Îles de la Manche', while in France, the term 'Îles anglo-normandes' (Anglo-Norman isles) is used to refer to the British 'Channel Islands' in contrast to other islands in the Channel. Chausey is referred to as an 'Île normande' (as opposed to anglo-normande). 'Îles Normandes' and 'Archipel Normand' have also, historically, been used in Channel Island French to refer to the islands as a whole.

The very large tidal variation provides an environmentally rich inter-tidal zone around the islands, and some sites have received Ramsar Convention designation (see Category:Ramsar sites in the Channel Islands).

The waters around the islands include the following:

  • The Swinge (between Alderney and Burhou)
  • The Little Swinge (between Burhou and Les Nannels)
  • La Déroute (between Jersey and Sark, and Jersey and the Cotentin)
  • Le Raz Blanchard, or Race of Alderney (between Alderney and the Cotentin)
  • The Great Russel (between Sark, Jéthou and Herm)
  • The Little Russel (between Guernsey, Herm and Jéthou)
  • Souachehouais (between Le Rigdon and L'Étacq, Jersey)
  • Le Gouliot (between Sark and Brecqhou)
  • La Percée (between Herm and Jéthou)


La Gran'mère du Chimquière, Statue menhir, Saint Martin, Guernsey


The earliest evidence of human occupation of the Channel Islands has been dated to 25,000 years ago when they were attached to the landmass of continental Europe.[2] The islands became detached by rising sea-levels in the Neolithic period. The numerous dolmens and other archaeological sites extant and recorded in history demonstrate the existence of a population large enough and organised enough to undertake constructions of considerable size and sophistication, such as the burial mound at La Hougue Bie[3] in Jersey or the statue menhirs of Guernsey.

From the Iron Age

Hoards of Armorican coins have been excavated, providing evidence of trade and contact in the Iron Age period. Evidence for Roman settlement is sparse, although evidently the islands were visited by Roman officials and traders. The traditional Latin names of the islands (Caesarea for Jersey; Sarnia for Guernsey, Riduna for Alderney) derive (possibly mistakenly) from the Antonine Itinerary. Gallo-Roman culture was adopted to an unknown extent in the islands.[4]

In the 6th century Christian missionaries visited the islands. Samson of Dol, Helier, Marculf and Magloire are among saints associated with the islands. Although originally included within the diocese of Dol, in the 6th century the islands were transferred to the diocese of Coutances, perhaps under the influence of Prætextatus.

From the beginning of the 9th century Norse raiders appeared on the coasts. Norse settlement succeeded initial attacks, and it is from this period that many placenames of Norse origin appear, including the modern names of the islands.

From the Duchy of Normandy

The islands were annexed to the Duchy of Normandy in 933. In 1066, William II of Normandy, a vassal to the king of France, invaded and conquered England, becoming William I of England, also known as William the Conqueror. Since 1204, the loss of the rest of the monarch's lands in mainland Normandy has meant that the Channel Islands have been governed as separate possessions of the Crown.

The islands were invaded by the French in 1338 who held some territory until 1345. Owen of Wales attacked Jersey and Guernsey in 1372, and in 1373 Bertrand du Guesclin besieged Mont Orgueil.[5] Jersey was occupied by the French (as part of the Wars of the Roses) from 1461-1468. In 1483 a Papal Bull decreed that the islands would be neutral during time of war. This privilege of neutrality enabled islanders to trade with both France and England and was respected until 1689 when it was abolished by Order in Council following the hi by willom garrett frye Glorious Revolution in Great Britain.

Various attempts to transfer the islands from the diocese of Coutances (to Nantes (1400), Salisbury (1496) and Winchester (1499)) had little effect until an Order in Council of 1569 brought the islands formally into the diocese of Winchester. Control by the bishop of Winchester was ineffectual as the islands had turned overwhelmingly Calvinist and the episcopacy was not restored until 1620 in Jersey and 1663 in Guernsey.

Sark in the 16th century was uninhabited until colonised from Jersey in the 1560s. The grant of seigneurship from Elizabeth I of England forms the basis of Sark's constitution today.

Over a dozen windmills are known to have existed in the Channel Isles. They were mostly tower mills used for grinding corn.

From the 17th century

During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Jersey held out strongly for the Royalist cause, providing refuge for Charles, Prince of Wales in 1646 and 1649-1650, while the more strongly Presbyterian Guernsey more generally favoured the parliamentary cause (although Castle Cornet was, on 15 December 1651, the last Royalist stronghold in the British Isles to surrender).[6]

The islands acquired commercial and political interests in the North American colonies. Islanders became involved with the Newfoundland fisheries in the 17th century. In recognition for all the help given to him during his exile in Jersey in the 1640s, Charles II gave George Carteret, Bailiff and governor, a large grant of land in the American colonies, which he promptly named New Jersey, now part of the United States of America. Edmund Andros of Guernsey was an early colonial governor in North America, and head of the short-lived Dominion of New England.

20th century

To this day, the Channel Islands remain covered in German fortifications built in the second world war.

World War II

The islands were the only part of the British Commonwealth occupied by Germany during the Second World War. The German occupation of 1940–45 was harsh: over 2,000 Islanders were deported by the Germans,[7] Jews sent to concentration camps; partisan resistance and retribution; accusations of collaboration; and slave labour (primarily Russians and eastern Europeans) brought to the islands to build fortifications,[8] with 65,718 landmines laid in Jersey alone.[9]

The British government demilitarised the islands in June 1940 and the Lieutenant-Governors were withdrawn on 21 June, leaving the insular administrations to continue government as best they could under impending military occupation.[10]

Before German troops landed 30 June-4 July 1940, evacuation took place (many young men had already left to join the Allied forces): 6,600 left Jersey (out of 50,000); 17,000 left Guernsey (out of 42,000); the population of Sark remained overwhelmingly;[11] but in Alderney, the entire population, save for six persons, left. In Alderney, the occupying Germans built four concentration camps in which over 700 people died (out of a total inmate population of about 6,000). Due to the destruction of documents, it is impossible to state how many forced workers died in the other islands.[12] These were the only Nazi concentration camps on British soil[13] [14].

During the German occupation of Jersey, a stonemason repairing the paving of the Royal Square incorporated a V for victory under the noses of the occupiers. This was later amended to refer to the Red Cross ship Vega. The addition of the date 1945 and a more recent frame has transformed it into a monument

The Royal Navy blockaded the islands from time to time, particularly following the liberation of mainland Normandy in 1944. There was considerable hunger and privation during the five years of German occupation, particularly in the final months when the population was close to starvation. Intense negotiations resulted in some Red Cross humanitarian aid, leading to the arrival of the Red Cross supply ship Vega in December 1944.

The end of the occupation only came after VE-Day on 8 May 1945. Jersey and Guernsey were liberated on 9 May 1945. The German garrison in Alderney did not surrender until 16 May 1945 and was one of the last of the Nazi German remnants to surrender[15]. The first evacuees returned on the first sailing from the UK on 23 June [16], but the population of Alderney was unable to start returning until December 1945.


Following the Liberation of 1945, reconstruction led to a transformation of the economies of the islands, attracting immigration and developing tourism. The legislatures were reformed and non-party governments embarked on social programmes, aided by the incomes from offshore finance which grew rapidly from the 1960s.[17]

The islands decided not to join the European Economic Community when the UK joined, and remain outside.[18]

Since the 1990s declining profitability of agriculture and tourism have challenged the governments of the islands.[19]


The Channel Islands fall into two separate self-governing bailiwicks. Both the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey are British Crown Dependencies, but neither is part of the United Kingdom. They have been part of the Duchy of Normandy since the 10th century and Queen Elizabeth II is often referred to by her traditional and conventional title of Duke of Normandy. However, pursuant to the Treaty of Paris (1259) she is not the Duke in a constitutional capacity and instead governs in her right as Queen. This notwithstanding, it is a matter of local pride for monarchists to treat the situation otherwise: the Loyal Toast at formal dinners is to 'The Queen, our Duke', rather than 'Her Majesty, the Queen' as in the UK.[20]

Entrance to the public gallery of the States Chamber in Jersey.

The Channel Islands are not represented in the UK Parliament but each island has its own primary legislature, known as the States of Guernsey and the States of Jersey, with Chief Pleas in Sark and the States of Alderney. Laws passed by the States are given Royal Assent by the Queen in Council, to whom the islands' governments are responsible.[21]

The systems of government date from Norman times, which accounts for the names of the legislatures, the States, derived from the Norman 'États' or 'estates' (i.e. the Crown, the Church, and the people). The States have evolved over the centuries into democratic parliaments.

A bailiwick is a territory administered by a bailiff. The Bailiff in each bailiwick is the civil head, presiding officer of the States, and also head of the judiciary.

In 2001, responsibility for links between the Channel Islands (together with the Isle of Man) and the Crown passed from the Home Secretary to the Lord Chancellor's Department, replaced in 2003 by the Department of Constitutional Affairs and in 2007 by the Ministry of Justice.

In addition, Acts of the UK Parliament may be extended to any of the Channel Islands by Order-in-Council (thus giving the UK Government some responsibility for good governance in the islands). By constitutional convention this is only done at the request of the Insular Authorities, [22] and has become a rare option (thus giving the Insular Authorities themselves the responsibility for good governance in the islands), the islands usually preferring nowadays to pass localised versions of laws giving effect to international treaties.

Matters reserved to the Crown (i.e. acting through the United Kingdom Government) are limited to defence, citizenship, and diplomatic representation. The islands are not bound by treaties concluded by the United Kingdom (unless they so request) and may separately conclude treaties with foreign governments (except concerning matters reserved to the Crown). The United Kingdom conceded at the end of the 20th century that the islands may establish direct political (non-diplomatic) contacts with foreign governments to avoid the situation whereby British embassies were obliged to pass on communications from the governments of the Bailiwicks that were in conflict with United Kingdom government policy.

The islands are not part of the European Union, but are part of the Customs Territory of the European Community, by virtue of Protocol Three to the Treaty on European Union.

Islanders are full British citizens, and therefore European Citizens. Any British citizen who applies for a passport in Jersey or Guernsey receives a passport bearing the words "British Islands, Bailiwick of Jersey" or "British Islands, Bailiwick of Guernsey". Under the provisions of Protocol Three, Channel Islanders who do not have a close connection with the UK (no parent or grandparent from the UK, and have never been resident in Great Britain or Northern Ireland for any five-year period) do not automatically benefit from the EU provisions on free movement within the EU and consequently their passports receive an endorsement to that effect. This only affects a minority of islanders.

Under the Interpretation Act 1978, the Channel Islands are deemed to be part of the British Islands, not to be confused with the British Isles. But according to the British Nationality Act 1981 the United Kingdom means Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, taken together.[23]

Both Bailiwicks are members of the British-Irish Council, and Jèrriais and Dgèrnésiais are recognised regional languages of the Isles.

The legal courts are separate; separate courts of appeal have been in place since 1961. Among the legal heritage from Norman law is the Clameur de Haro.


Tourism is the major industry in the smaller islands (with some agriculture). Jersey and Guernsey have, since the 1960s, relied on financial services. Guernsey's horticultural and greenhouse activities have been more significant than in Jersey, and Guernsey has maintained light industry as a higher proportion of its economy than Jersey. Jersey's economy since the 1980s has been substantially more reliant on finance.

Both Bailiwicks issue their own banknotes and coins, which circulate freely in all the islands alongside UK coinage and Bank of England and Scottish banknotes.

There are many exports, largely consisting of crafted goods and farmed produce. The Genuine Jersey Products Association[24] certify products as being locally made/sourced.

Transport and communications

Since 1969, Jersey and Guernsey have operated postal administrations independently of the UK's Royal Mail, with their own postage stamps, which can only be used for postage in their respective Bailiwicks. UK stamps are no longer valid, but mail to the islands, and to the Isle of Man, is still charged at UK inland rates. However, it was not until the early 1990s that the islands joined the UK's postcode system, Jersey postcodes using the initials JE and Guernsey using GY.

Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey are connected by what could be called an aerial bus service operated and competed on by Blue Islands and Aurigny. The latter use the incredibly rare Britten-Norman Trislander on the route while the former use [Britten-Norman Islanders] and BAe Jetstream 32s.

The islands are connected to the radio and television system of the UK. They are part of BBC Channel Islands, and have since 2000 had regular opt-outs from the main Spotlight programme: 15 minutes at 18.30 and a full late bulletin at 22.25. There are also two local BBC radio stations, BBC Radio Guernsey and BBC Radio Jersey.

Alderney has its own radio station, QUAY-FM, which operates in the summer tourist season and at Christmas.

The islands have had their own ITV franchise, Channel Television, since September 1962. The islands will switch to digital-only transmissions in November 2010.[25]

Jersey always operated its own telephone services independently of the UK's national systems, but Guernsey did not establish its own telephone services until 1969. Both islands still form part of the UK telephone numbering plan, but Ofcom in the UK does not have responsibility for telecommunications regulatory and licensing issues on the islands. (It is responsible for wireless telegraphy licensing throughout the islands, and by agreement, for broadcasting regulation in the two large islands only).

The Channel Islands have their own country-code top-level-domains (ccTLDs) on the Internet, managed by a CHANNELISLES.NET. The ccTLDs are .gg for the Bailiwick of Guernsey (including Alderney and Sark) and .je for the Bailiwick of Jersey. The country codes first appeared on the Internet in 1996 after [Jon Postel] agreed with [Nigel Roberts] of [Island Networks] to add four codes (GG,JE as well as IM and AC) to the IANA list of TLDs. The country codes for the Channel Islands and for the Isle of Man were entered on to the official United Nations ISO-3166 list in 2006.

Alderney has a large and growing internet gambling industry with a full regulatory authority in operation.

Each of the three largest islands has a distinct vehicle registration scheme:

  • Guernsey (GBG): simply a number, up to five digits;
  • Jersey (GBJ): J followed by up to six digits (JSY vanity plates are also issued);
  • Alderney (GBA): AY followed by up to five digits (four digits are the most that have been used, as redundant numbers are re-issued).

In Sark, where most motor traffic is prohibited, the few vehicles on the island – nearly all tractors – do not display plates. Bicycles display cardboard tax discs.

In the 1960s, names used for the cross-Channel ferries plying the mail route between the islands and Weymouth, Dorset were taken from the popular Latin names for the islands: "Caesarea" (Jersey), "Sarnia" (Guernsey) and "Riduna" (Alderney).

Today, the ferry route between the Channel Islands and the UK is operated by Condor Ferries from both St Helier, Jersey and St Peter Port, Guernsey using high speed catamarans fast craft to Weymouth, and Poole in the UK. A regular passenger ferry service on the Commodore Clipper goes from both Channel Island ports to Portsmouth daily which carries both passengers and freight.

Ferry services to mainland Normandy are operated by Manche Îles Express, and a service between Jersey and Saint Malo is also operated by Compagnie Corsaire. Condor also operate a service to Saint Malo.


A sea festival advertised using Dgèrnésiais.

Culturally, the Norman language predominated in the islands until the 19th century, when increasing influence from English-speaking settlers and easier transport links led to Anglicisation.[26] There are four main dialects/languages of Norman in the islands, Auregnais (Alderney, extinct in late 20th century), Dgèrnésiais (Guernsey), Jèrriais (Jersey) and Sercquiais (Sark, an offshoot of Jèrriais).[27]

Victor Hugo spent many years in exile, first in Jersey and then in Guernsey, where he wrote Les Misérables.[citation needed] Guernsey is also the setting of Hugo's later novel, Les Travailleurs De La Mer (The Toilers of the Sea). A "Guernsey-man" also makes an appearance in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.[citation needed]

The annual "Muratti", the inter-island football match, is considered the sporting event of the year—although, due to broadcast coverage, it no longer attracts the crowds of spectators, travelling between the islands, that occurred during the 20th century.[28]

Channel Island sportsmen and women compete in the Commonwealth Games for their respective islands and the islands have also been enthusiastic supporters of the Island Games. Shooting is a popular sport, in which islanders have won Commonwealth medals.[29]

Guernsey's traditional colour for sporting and other purposes is green and Jersey's is red.[30]

This statue of a crapaud (toad) in St. Helier represents the traditional nickname for Jersey people.

The main islanders have traditional animal nicknames:[31][32]

  • Guernsey: les ânes ("donkeys" in French and Norman): the steepness of St. Peter Port streets required beasts of burden, but Guernsey people also claim it is a symbol of their strength of character – which Jersey people traditionally interpret as stubbornness.
  • Jersey: les crapauds ("toads" in French and Jèrriais): Jersey has toads and snakes that Guernsey lacks.
  • Sark: les corbins ("crows" in Sercquiais, Dgèrnésiais and Jèrriais, les corbeaux in French): crows could be seen from sea on the island's coast.
  • Alderney: les lapins ("rabbits" in French and Auregnais): the island is noted for its warrens.

Christianity was brought to the islands around the 6th century; according to tradition, Jersey was evangelised by Saint Helier, Guernsey by Saint Samson of Dol and other smaller islands were occupied at various times by monastic communities representing strands of Celtic Christianity. At the Reformation, the islands turned Calvinist under the influence of an influx of French-language pamphlets published in Geneva. Anglicanism was imposed in the 17th century, but the Non-Conformist tendency re-emerged with a strong adoption of Methodism. The presence of long-term Catholic communities from France and seasonal workers from Brittany and Normandy added to the mix of denominations among the population.[citation needed]

Other islands in the English Channel

There are other islands in other stretches of the English Channel that are not traditionally included within the grouping of Channel Islands. Among these are Ouessant/Ushant, Bréhat, Île de Batz, Chausey, Grande-Île, Tatihou and Îles Saint-Marcouf (under French jurisdiction) and the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly (both part of England and under UK jurisdiction).

See also

External links


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Balleine's History of Jersey, Marguerite Syvret and Joan Stevens (1998) ISBN 1-86077-065-7
  5. ^
  6. ^ Portrait of the Channel Islands, Lemprière, London 1970
  7. ^ The German Occupation of the Channel Islands, Cruikshank, Oxford 1975 ISBN 0192850873
  8. ^
  9. ^ German Fortifications in Jersey, Ginns & Bryans, Jersey 1975
  10. ^ The German Occupation of the Channel Islands, Cruikshank, Oxford 1975 ISBN 0192850873
  11. ^ The German Occupation of the Channel Islands, Cruikshank, Oxford 1975 ISBN 0192850873
  12. ^ The German Occupation of the Channel Islands, Cruikshank, Oxford 1975 ISBN 0192850873
  13. ^ Christine O'Keefe, Appendix F: Concentration Camps: Endlösung – The Final Solution,, retrieved 2009-06-06 
  14. ^ Matisson Consultants, Aurigny ; un camp de concentration nazi sur une île anglo-normande (English: Alderney, a Nazi concentration camp on an island Anglo-Norman),, retrieved 2009-06-06  (French)
  15. ^ Legacy Publishers, Nazi Germany Surrenders: February 1945-May 1945, 
  16. ^ The German Occupation of the Channel Islands, Cruikshank, Oxford 1975 ISBN 0192850873
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "British Nationality Act 1981". Legislation, UK, Acts. Office_of_Public_Sector_Information. Retrieved 2009-09-14. "the Islands” means the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man; [...] the United Kingdom” means Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Islands, taken together."  [Schedule 1., s. 50 (1)]
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ The Triumph of the Country, Kelleher, Jersey 1994, ISBN 0-9518162-4-1
  27. ^ La Grève de Lecq, Roger Jean Lebarbenchon, 1988 ISBN 2905385138
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français, 1966
  32. ^


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1911 encyclopedia

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From LoveToKnow 1911

CHANNEL ISLANDS (French Iles Normandes), a group of islands in the English Channel, belonging (except the Iles Chausey) to Great Britain. (For map, see England, Section VI.) They lie between 48° 50' and 49° 45' N., and 1° 50' and 2° 45' W., along the French coast of Cotentin (department of Manche), at a distance of 4 to 40 m. from it, within the great rectangular bay of which the northward horn is Cape La Hague. The greater part of this bay is shallow, and the currents among the numerous groups of islands and rocks are often dangerous to navigation. The nearest point of the English coast to the Channel Islands is Portland Bill, a little over 50 m. north of the northernmost outlier of the islands. The total land area of the islands is about 75 sq. m. (48,083 acres), and the population in 1901 was 95,618. The principal individual islands are four: - Jersey (area 45 sq. m., pop. 52,576), Guernsey (area 24.5 sq. m., pop. 40,446), Alderney (area 3.06 sq. m., pop. 2062), and Sark (area nearly 2 sq. m., pop. 504). Each of these islands is treated in a separate article. The chief town and port of Jersey is St Helier, and of Guernsey St Peter Port; a small town on Alderney is called St Anne. Regular communication by steamer with Guernsey and Jersey is provided on alternate days from Southampton and Weymouth, by steamers of the London & South-Western and Great Western railway companies of England. Railway communications within the islands are confined to Jersey. Regular steamship communications are kept up from certain French ports, and locally between the larger islands. In summer the islands, especially Jersey, Guernsey and Sark, are visited by numerous tourists, both from England and from France.

The islands fall physically into four divisions. The northernmost, lying due west of Cape La Hague, and separated therefrom by the narrow Race of Alderney, includes that island, Burhou and Ortach, and numerous other islets west of it, and west again the notorious Casquets, and angry group of jagged rocks, on the largest of which is a powerful lighthouse. Doubtful tradition places here the wreck of the "White Ship," in which William, son of Henry I., perished 'in 1120; in 1744 the "Victory," a British man-of-war, struck on one of the rocks, and among calamities of modern times the wreck of the "Stella," a passenger vessel, in 18 99, may be recalled. The second division of islands is also the most westerly; it includes Guernsey with a few islets to the west, and to the east, Sark, Herm, Jethou (inhabited islands) and others. The strait between Guernsey and Herm is called Little Russel, and that between Herm and Sark Great Russel. Sark is famous for its splendid cliffs and caves, while Herm possesses the remarkable phenomenon of a shell-beach, or shore, half-a-mile in length, formed wholly of small shells, which accumulate in a tidal eddy formed at the north of the island. To the south-east of these, across the channel called La Deroute, lies Jersey, forming, with a few attendant islets, of which the Ecrehou to the north-east are the chief, the third division. The fourth and southernmost division falls into two main subdivisions. The Minquiers, the more western, are a collection of abrupt rocks, the largest of which, Maitresse Ile, affords a landing and shelter for fishermen. Then eastern subdivision, the Iles Chausey, lies about 9 m. west by north of Granville (to which commune they belong) on the French coast, and belongs to France. These rocks are close set, low and curiously regular in form. On Grande Ile, the only permanently inhabited island (pop. loo), some farming is carried on, and several of the islets are temporarily inhabited by fishermen. There is also a little granite-quarrying, and seaweed-burning employs many.

None of the islands is mountainous, and the fine scenery for which they are famous is almost wholly coastal. In this respect each main island has certain distinctive characteristics. Bold cliffs are found on the south of Alderney; in Guernsey they alternate with lovely bays; Sark is specially noted for its magnificent sea-caves, while the coast scenery of Jersey is on the whole more gentle than the rest.

Table of contents


Geologically, the Channel Islands are closely related to the neighbouring mainland of Normandy. With a few exceptions, to be noted later, all the rocks are of pre-Cambrian, perhaps in part of Archean age. They consist of massive granites, gneisses, diorites, porphyrites, schists and phyllites, all of which are traversed by dykes and veins. In Jersey we find in the north-west corner a granitic tract extending from Grosnez to St Mar y and St John, beyond which it passes into a small granulitic patch. South of the granites is a schistose area, by St Ouen and St Lawrence, and reaching to St Aubin's Bay. Granitic masses again appear round St Brelade's Bay. The eastern half of the island is largely occupied by porphyrites and similar rocks (hornstone porphyry) with rhyolites and devitrified obsidians; some of the latter contain large spherulites with a diameter of as much as 24 in.; these are well exposed in Bouley Bay; a complex igneous and intrusive series of rocks lies around St Helier. In the north-east corner of the island a con glomerate, possibly of Cambrian age, occurs between Bouley Bay and St Catherine's Bay. Tracts of blown-sand cover the ground for some distance north of St Clement's Bay and again east of St Ouen's Bay. In the sea off the latter bay a submerged forest occurs. The northern half of Guernsey is mainly dioritic, the southern half, below St Peter, is occupied by gneisses. Several patches of granite and granulite fringe the western coast, the largest of these is a hornblende granite round Rocquaine Bay. Hornblende gneiss from St Sampson and quartz diorite from Capelles, Corvee and elsewhere are transported to England for road metal. Sark is composed almost wholly of hornblende-schists and gneisses with hornblendic granite at the north end of the island, in Little Sark and in the middle of Brechou. Dykes of diabase and diorite are abundant. Alderney consists mainly of hornblende granite and granulite, which are covered on the east by two areas of sandstone which may be of Cambrian age. An enstatite-augite-diorite is sent from Alderney for road-making. Besides the submerged forest on the coast of Jersey already mentioned, there are similar occurrences near St Peter Port and St Sampson's harbour, and in Vazon Bay in Guernsey. Raised beaches are to be seen at several points in the islands.


The climate is mild and very pleasant. In Jersey the mean temperature for twenty years is found to be - in January (the coldest month) 42.1° F., in August (the hottest) 63°, mean annual 51.7°. In Guernsey the figures are, for January 42.5°, for August 59.7°, mean annual 49.5°. The mean annual rainfall for twenty-five years in Jersey is 34.21 in., and in Guernsey 3864 in. The average amount of sunshine in Jersey is considerably greater than in the most favoured spots on the south coast of England; and inuernsey it is only a little less than in Jersey. Snow and frost are rare, and the seasons of spring and autumn are protracted. Thick sea-fogs are not uncommon, especially in May and June.

Flora and Fauna

The flora of the islands is remarkably rich, considering their extent, nearly 2000 different species of plants having been counted throughout the group. Of timber properly speaking there is little, but the evergreen oak, the elm and the beech are abundant. Wheat is the principal grain in cultivation; but far more ground is taken up with turnips and potatoes, mangold, parsnip and carrot. The tomato ripens as in France, and the Chinese yam has been successfully grown. There is a curious cabbage, chiefly cultivated in Jersey, which shoots up into a long woody stalk from io to 15 ft. in height, fit for walkingsticks or palisades. Grapes and peaches come to perfection in greenhouses without artificial heat; and not only apples and pears but oranges and figs can be reared in the open air. The arbutus ripens its fruit, and the camellia clothes itself with blossom, as in more southern climates; the fuchsia reaches a height of 15 or 20 ft., and the magnolia attains the dimensions of a tree. Of the flowers, both indigenous and exotic, that abound throughout the islands, it is sufficient to mention the Guernsey lily with its rich red petals, which is supposed to have been brought from Japan.

The number of the species of the mammalia is little over twenty, and several of these have been introduced by man. There is a special breed of horned cattle, and each island has its own variety, which is carefully kept from all intermixture. The animals are small and delicate, and marked by a peculiar yellow colour round the eyes and within the ears. The red deer was once indigenous, and the black rat is still common in Alderney, Sark and Herm. The list of birds includes nearly 200 species, nearly loo of which are permanent inhabitants of the islands. There are few localities in the northern seas which are visited by a greater variety of fish, and the coasts abound in crustacea, shell-fish and zoophytes.


For the purposes of government the Channel Islands (excluding the French Chauseys) are divided into two divisions: - (1) Jersey, and (2) the bailiwick of Guernsey, which includes Alderney, Sark, Herm and Jethou with the island of Guernsey. The constitutions of each division are peculiar and broadly similar, but differing in certain important details; they may therefore be considered together for the sake of comparison. Until 1854 governors were appointed by the crown; now a separate military lieutenant-governor is appointed for each division on the recommendation of the war office after consultation with the home office. The other crown officials are the V. 27 a bailiff (bailli) or chief magistrate, the procureur du roi, representing the attorney-general, and the avocat du roi, or in Guernsey the controle, representing the solicitor-general. In Jersey the vicomte is also appointed by the crown, in the position of a high sheriff (and coroner); but his counterpart in Guernsey, the prevot, is not so appointed. The bailiff in each island is president of the royal court, which is composed of twelve jurats, elected for life, in Jersey by the ratepayers of each parish, in Guernsey by the Elective States, a body which also elects the prevot, who, with the jurats, serves upon it. The rest of the body is made up of the rectors of the parishes, the douzaines, or elected parish councils ("dozens," from the original number of their members) of the town parish of St Peter Port, the four cantons, and the county parishes, and certain other officials. The royal court administers justice (but in Jersey there is a trial by jury for criminal cases), and in Guernsey can pass temporary ordinances subject to no higher body. It also puts forward projets de loi for the approval of the Deliberative States. Alderney and Sark have a separate legal existence with courts dependent on the royal court of Guernsey. In both Jersey and Guernsey the chief administrative bodyis the Deliberative States. The Jersey States is composed of the lieutenant-governor (who has a veto on the deliberation of any question, but no vote), the bailiff, jurats, parish rectors, parish constables and deputies, the procureur and avocat, with right to speak but no vote, and the vicomte, with right of attendance only. Besides the vetq of the lieutenantgovernor, the bailiff has the power to dissent from any measure, in which case it is referred to the privy council. In Guernsey the States consists of the bailiff, jurats, eight out of ten rectors, the procureur and deputies; while the lieutenant-governor is always invited and may speak if he attends. By both States local administration is carried on (largely through committees); and relations with the British parliament are maintained through the privy council. Acts of parliament are transmitted to the islands by an order in council to be registered in the rolls of the royal court, and are not considered to be binding until this is done; moreover, registration may be held over pending discussion by the States if any act is considered to menace the privileges of the islands. The right of the crown to legislate by order in council is held to be similarly limited. In cases of encroachment on property, a remarkable form of appeal of very ancient origin called Clameur de Haro survives (see Haro, Clameur De). The islands are in the diocese of Winchester, and there is a dean in both Jersey and Guernsey, who is also rector of a parish.

These peculiar constitutions are of local development, the history of which is obscure. The bailiff was originally assisted in his judicial work by itinerant justices; their place was later taken by the elected jurats; later still the practice of summoning the States to assist in the passing Of ordinances was established by the bailiff and jurats, and at last the States claimed the absolute right of being consulted. This was confirmed to them in 1771.

It is characteristic of these islands that there should be compulsory service in the militia. In Jersey and Alderney every man between the ages of sixteen and forty-five is liable, but in Jersey after ten years' service militiamen are transferred to the reserve. In Guernsey the age limit is from sixteen to thirtythree, and the obligation is extended to all who are British subjects, and draw income from a profession practised in the island. Garrisons of regular troops are maintained in all three islands. Taxation is light in the islands, and pauperism is practically unknown.

In 1904 the revenue of Jersey was £70,191, and its expenditure £69,658; the revenue of Guernsey was £79,334, and the expenditure £43,3 8 5. The public debt in the respective islands was £322,070 and £195,794. In Jersey the annual revenues from crown rights (principally seigneurial dues, houses and lands and tithes) amount to about £2700, and about £360 is remitted to the paymaster-general. In Guernsey these revenues, in which the principal item is fines on transference of property (treiziemes or fees), amount to about £4500, and about £1000 is remitted. In Alderney the revenues (chiefly from harbour dues) amount to about £1400.

In Jersey the English gold and silver coinage are current, but there is a local copper coinage and local one-pound notes are issued.

Guernsey has also such notes, and its copper coinage consists of pence, halfpence, two-double and one-double (one-eighth of a penny) pieces. A Guernsey pound is taken as equal to 24 francs, and English and French currency pass equally throughout the islands.


The old Norman system of land-tenure has survived, and the land is parcelled out among a great number of small proprietors; holdings ranging from 5 to 25 acres as a rule. The results of this arrangement seem to be favourable in the extreme. Every corner of the ground is carefully and intelligently cultivated, and a considerable proportion is allotted to market-gardening. The cottages are neat and comfortable, the hedges well-trimmed, and the roads kept in excellent repair. There is a considerable export trade in agricultural produce and stock, including vegetables and fruit, in fish (the fisheries forming an important industry) and in stone. One such family, the Corbet's, are noted for their impressive quarrying of the Catelain and Corvee sites as well as farming of tomatoes and melons.There is no manufacture of importance at this time however many smaller manufactureres are growing. The inhabitants share in common the right of collecting and burning seaweed (called vraic) for manure. The cutting of the weed (vraicking) became a ceremonial occasion, taking place at times fixed by the government, and connected with popular festivities.


The language spoken in ordinary life by the inhabitants of the islands is in great measure the same as the old Norman French. The use of the patois has decreased naturally in modern times. Modern French is the official language, used in the courts and states, and English is taught in the parochial schools, and is familiar practically to all. The several islands have each its own dialect, differing from that of the others in vocabulary and idiom; differences are also observable in different localities within the same island, as between the north and the south of Guernsey. None of the dialects has received much literary cultivation, though Jersey is proud of being the birthplace of one of the principal Norman poets, Wace, who flourished in the 12th century. Another noted poet and painter was Denys Corbet.


The original ethnology and pre-Christian history of the Channel Islands are largely matters of conjecture and debate. Of early inhabitants abundant proof is afforded by the numerous megalithic monuments - cromlechs, kistvaens and maenhirs - still extant. But little trace has been left of Roman occupation, and such remains as have been discovered are mainly of the portable description that affords little proof of actual settlement, though there may have been an unimportant garrison here. The constant recurrence of the names of saints in the place-names of the islands, and the fact that pre-Christian names do not occur, leads to the inference that before Christianity was introduced the population was very scanty. It may be considered to have consisted originally of Bretons (Celts), and to have received successively a slight admixture of Romans and Legionaries, Saxons and perhaps Jutes and Vandals. Christianity may have been introduced in the 5th century. Guernsey is said to have been visited in the 6th century by St Sampson of Dol (whose name is given to a small town and harbour in the island), St Marcou or Marculfus and St Magloire, a friend and fellow-evangelist of St Sampson, who founded monasteries at Sark and at Jersey, and died in Jersey in 575. Another evangelist of this period was St Helerius, whose name is borne by the chief town of Jersey, St Helier. In his life it is stated that the population of the island when he reached it was only 30. In 933 the islands were made over to William, duke of Normandy (d. 943) and after the Norman conquest of England their allegiance shifted between the English crown and the Norman coronet according to the vicissitudes of war and policy. During the purely Norman period they had been enriched with numerous ecclesiastical buildings, some of which are still extant, as the chapel of Rozel in Jersey.

In the reign of John of England the future of the islands was decided by their attachment to the English crown, in spite of the separation of the duchy of Normandy. To John it has been usual to ascribe a document, at one time regarded by the islanders as their Magna Carta; but modern criticism leaves little doubt that it is not genuine. An unauthenticated "copy" of uncertain origin alone has been discovered, and there is little proof of there ever having been an original. The reign of Edward I. was full of disturbance; and in 1 279 Jersey and Guernsey received from the king, by letters patent, a public seal as a remedy for the dangers and losses which they had incurred by lack of such a certificate. Edward II. found it necessary to instruct his collectors not to treat the islanders as foreigners: his successor, Edward III., fully confirmed their privileges, immunities and customs in 1341; and his charter was recognized by Richard II. in 1378. In 1343 there was a descent of the French on Guernsey; the governor was defeated, and Castle Cornet besieged. In 1372 there was another attack on Guernsey, and in 1374 and 1404 the French descended on Jersey. None of these attempts, however, resulted in permanent settlement. Henry V. confiscated the alien priories which had kept up the same connexion with Normandy as before the conquest, and conferred them along with the regalities of the islands on his brother, the duke of Bedford. During the Wars of the Roses, Queen Margaret, the consort of Henry VI., made an agreement with Pierre de Breze, comte de Maulevrier, the seneschal of Normandy, that if he afforded assistance to the king he should hold the islands independently of the crown. A force was accordingly sent to take possession of Mont Orgueil. It was captured and a small part of the island subjugated, and here Maulevrier remained as governor from 1460 to 1465; but the rest held out under Sir Philip de Carteret, seigneur of St Ouen, and in 1467 the vice-admiral of England, Sir Richard Harliston, recaptured the castle and brought the foreign occupation to an end. In 1482-1483 Pope Sixtus IV., at the instance of King Edward IV., issued a bull of anathema against all who molested the islands; it was formally registered in Brittany in 1484, and in France in 1486; and in this way the islands acquired the right of neutrality, which they retained till 1689. In the same reign (Edward IV.) Sark was taken by the French, and only recovered in the reign of Mary, by the strategy (according to tradition) of landing from a vessel a coffin nominally containing a body for burial, but in reality filled with arms. By a charter of 1494, the duties of the governors of Jersey were defined and their power restricted; and the educational interests of the island were furthered at the same time by the foundation of two grammar schools. The religious establishments in the islands were dissolved, as in England, in the reign of Henry VIII. The Reformation was heartily welcomed in the islands. The English liturgy was translated into French for their use. In the reign of Mary there was much religious persecution; and in that of Elizabeth Roman Catholics were maltreated in their turn. In 1568 the islands were attached to the see of Winchester, being finally separated from that of Coutances, with which they had long been connected, with short intervals in the reign of John, when they had belonged to the see of Exeter, and that of Henry VI., when they had belonged to Salisbury.

The Presbyterian form of church government was adopted under the influence of refugees from the persecution of Protestantism on the continent. It was formally sanctioned in St Helier and St Peter Port by Queen Elizabeth; and in 1603 King James enacted that the whole of the islands "should quietly enjoy their said liberty." During his reign, however, disputes arose. An Episcopal party had been formed in Jersey, and in 1619 David Bandinel was declared dean of the island. A body of canons which he drew up agreeable to the discipline of the Church of England was accepted after considerable modification by the people of his charge; but the inhabitants of Guernsey maintained their Presbyterian practices. Of the hold which this form of Protestantism had got on the minds of the people even in Jersey abundant proof is afforded by the general character of the worship at the present day.

In the great struggle between king and parliament, Presbyterian Guernsey supported the parliament; in Jersey, however, there were at first parliamentarian and royalist factions. Sir Philip de Carteret, lieutenant-governor, declared for the king, but Dean Bandinel and Michael Lempriere, a leader of the people, headed the parliamentary party. They received a commission for the apprehension of Carteret, who established himself in Elizabeth Castle; but after some fighting had taken place he died in the castle in August 1643. Meanwhile in Guernsey Sir Peter Osborne, the governor, was defying the whole island and maintaining himself in Castle Cornet. A parliamentarian governor, Leonard Lydcott, arrived in Jersey immediately after Sir Philip de Carteret's death. But the dowager Lady Carteret was holding Mont Orgueil; George Carteret, Sir Philip's nephew, arrived from St Malo to support the royalist cause, and Lydcott and Lempriere presently fled to England. George Carteret established himself as lieutenant-governor and bailiff. Bandinel was imprisoned in Mont Orgueil, and killed himself in trying to escape. Jersey was now completely royalist. In 1646 the prince of Wales, afterwards Charles II., arrived secretly at Jersey, and remained over two months at Elizabeth Castle. He went on to France, but returned in 1649, having been proclaimed king by George Carteret, and at Elizabeth Castle he signed the declaration of his claims to the throne on the 29th of October. In 1651, when Charles had fled to France again after the battle of Worcester, parliamentarian vessels of war appeared at Jersey. The islanders, weary of the tyrannical methods of their governor, now Sir George Carteret, offered little resistance. On the 15th of December the royalist remnant yielded up Elizabeth Castle; and at the same time Castle Cornet, Guernsey, which had been steadily held by Osborne, capitulated. In each case honourable terms of surrender were granted. Both islands had suffered severely from the struggle, and the people of Guernsey, appealing to Cromwell on the ground of their support of his cause, complained that two-thirds of the land was out of cultivation, and that they had lost "their ships, their traffic and their trading." After the Restoration there was considerable improvement, and in the reign of James II. the islanders got a grant of wool for the manufacture of stockings-4000 tods 1 of wool being annually allowed to Jersey, 2000 to Guernsey, 400 to Alderney and 200 to Sark. Alderney, which had been parliamentarian, was granted after the Restoration to the Carteret family; and it continued to be governed independently till 1825.

By William of Orange the neutrality of the islands was abolished in 1689, and during the war between England and France (1778-1783) there were two unsuccessful attacks on Jersey, in 1779 and 1781, the second, under Baron de Rullecourt, being famous for the victory over the invaders due to the bravery of the young Major Peirson, who fell when the French were on the point of surrender. During the revolutionary period in France the islands were the home of many refugees. In the 18th century various attempts were made to introduce the English customhouse system; but proved practically a failure, and the islands throve on smuggling and privateering down to 1800.


- Heylin, Relation of two Journeys (1656); P. Falle, Account of the Island of Jersey (1694; notes, &c., by E. Durell, Jersey, 1837); J. Duncan, History of Guernsey (London, 1841); P. le Geyt, Sur les constitutions, les lois et les usages de cette ile [Jersey], ed. R. P. Marett (Jersey, 1846-1847); F. B. Tupper, Chronicles of Castle Cornet, Guernsey (2nd ed. London, 1851), and History of Guernsey and its Bailiwick (Guernsey, 1854); S. E. Hoskins, Charles II. in the Channel Islands (London, 1854), and other works; Delacroix, Jersey, ses antiquites, &c. (Jersey, 1859); T. le Cerf, L'archipel des Iles Normandes (Paris, 1863); G. Dupont, Le Cotentin et ses Iles (Caen, 1870-1885); J. P. E. Havet, Les Cours royales des Iles Normandes (Paris, 1878); E. Pegot-Ogier, Histoire des Iles de la Manche (Paris, 1881); C. Noury, Geologie de Jersey (Paris and Jersey, 1886); D. T. Ansted and R. G. Latham, Channel Islands (1865; 3rd ed., rev. by E. T. Nicolle, London, 1893), the principal general work of reference; Sir E. MacCulloch, Guernsey Folklore, ed. Edith F. Carey (London, 1903); E. F. Carey, Channel Islands (London, 1904).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

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Channel Islands


Channel Islands

  1. A group of islands in the English Channel - Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Brecqhou, Lihou, Jethou and Burhou
  2. A group of islands off the coast of California


Simple English

The Channel Islands are a group of islands near the coast of France. The five largest islands are: [[File:|right|thumb|Map of the Channel Islands]]

The main industries are tourism, horticulture (growing plants for food) and financial services (businesses to do with money). Most people speak English, although some people in Guernsey, Jersey and Sark still speak the traditional language of their island.

Constitutionally, the islands are part of the British crown, but are not part of the United Kingdom. Being part of the mediaeval duchy of Normandy, allegiance is owed to the Queen but not to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which cannot pass laws for the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey except for defence and diplomatic matters, except if the bailiwicks ask it to. In general, the bailiwicks are self-governing, but they often pass laws which are like United Kingdom laws. However some of their laws are still based on Norman law.


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