The Channel Islands: Three things you might not know

Martin Andersen Photo

Martin Andersen

21 February 2017

Time to Read


One of the sunniest places in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands offer a unique holiday experience. Sandy beaches, clear water and old fortresses give it an exotic air, which, when mixed the strong British identity, typical English houses, as well as the random pub, makes this a truly unique destination. The fantastic blend means that the group of islands, just off the coast of France have their very own and utterly charming identity. If you’re planning to visit either Guernsey or Jersey, here are a few facts that you might not know about them.

The last corner of the Duchy of Normandy

Neither Guernsey nor Jersey are technically part of the United Kingdom, but act instead as so-called Crown Dependencies. Known officially as bailiwicks, the islands have a long and varied history, which have seen them being ruled by numerous different empires. The Channel Islands have however managed to preserve their status as bailiwicks since the 14th century and today act as the sole remnants of what was once the Duchy of Normandy. A bailiff and a lieutenant governor have been the de facto heads of the military and judicial presence on both Guernsey and Jersey, and since 2005 each of the two islands have been governed by the local Council of Ministers.  


Guernsey's mysterious stone circles.

Known as the Fairy Ring or the Table de Pions in French, the circular stone structure that appears on the western tip of Guernsey is surrounded by superstition and tales of fairies and legends. The arranged stones and the circular structure, when set against the background of waves crashing against the nearby rocks and Atlantic winds howling over the hilltops, provides fertile roots for the imagination, and walking around the circle three times it meant to make a wish come true. In actual fact, the structure was used as a place where members of the annual Chevauchee Parade could sit and eat a picnic. This parade was an annual formal occasion where the roads and fortifications around the islands where checked to see if they were still functional. We’re pretty sure though, that fairies have been using it too, when no one’s looking. 


New Jersey is 189 bigger than Jersey

With a land mass covering just 76sq miles, the Channel Islands are small than the area of Birmingham (but with way more beaches than can be found in the Midlands). The largest of the islands, Jersey, covers roughly the same size as Liverpool, but it’s rather ironically dwarfed in size by its namesake New Jersey. The island would fit 189 times into the area of the American state, and the links tying the two places together goes back to the English Civil War. Chosen by Charles II as his exile after his father was executed, he was proclaimed as king in St Helier by Sir George Carteret, who in return was granted a large part of what was known as New Netherland, which was promptly renamed New Jersey.


More From the Same Author