Top 10 things to do in Guernsey

Guernsey

Guernsey is a country in United Kingdom.

Guernsey , officially the Bailiwick of Guernsey , is a possession of the British Crown in right of Guernsey in the English Channel, off the coast of Normandy. As a bailiwick, Guernsey embraces not only all ten parishes on the island of Guernsey, but also the islands of Alderney and Sark – each with its own parliament – and the smaller islands of Herm, Jethou and Lihou. Although its defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom, the Bailiwick is not part of the United Kingdom but rather a possession of the British Crown. It lies within the Common Travel Area of the British Isles and is not a member of the European Union, but has a special relationship with it, being treated as part of the European Community for the purposes of free trade in goods. Together, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey form the geographical grouping known as the Channel Islands.

Etymology

The name "Guernsey", as well as that of neighbouring "Jersey", is of Old Norse origin. The second element of each word, "-ey", is the Old Norse for "island", while "Guern" resembles the Spanish Cuerno and means horns.

History

Around 6000 B.C., rising seas created the English Channel and separated the Norman promontories that became the bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey from continental Europe.Neolithic farmers then settled on its coast and built the dolmens and menhirs found in the islands today.

During their migration to Brittany, Britons occupied the Lenur islands including Sarnia or Lisia and Angia . Travelling from the Kingdom of Gwent, Saint Sampson, later the abbot of Dol in Brittany, is credited with the introduction of Christianity to Guernsey.

In 933 the islands, formerly under the control of William I, then Duchy of Brittany were annexed by the Duchy of Normandy. The island of Guernsey and the other Channel Islands represent the last remnants of the medieval Duchy of Normandy.

During the Middle Ages, the island was a haven for pirates that would use the "Lamping Technique" to ground ships close to her waters . This intensified during the Hundred Years War, when, starting in 1339, the island was occupied by the Capetians on several occasions.

In 1372, the island was invaded by Aragonese mercenaries under the command of Owain Lawgoch , who was in the pay of the French king. Lawgoch and his dark-haired mercenaries were later absorbed into Guernsey legend as invading fairies from across the sea.

In the mid-16th century, the island was influenced by Calvinist reformers from Normandy. During the Marian persecutions, three women, the Guernsey Martyrs, were burned at the stake for their Protestant beliefs.

During the English Civil War, Guernsey sided with the Parliamentarians. The allegiance was not total, however; there were a few Royalist uprisings in the southwest of the island, while Castle Cornet was occupied by the Governor, Sir Peter Osborne, and Royalist troops. Castle Cornet was the last Royalist outpost anywhere in the British Isles to surrender.

Wars against France and Spain during the 17th and 18th centuries gave Guernsey shipowners and sea captains the opportunity to exploit the island's proximity to mainland Europe by applying for Letters of Marque and turning their merchantmen into privateers.

By the beginning of the 18th century, Guernsey's residents were starting to settle in North America. The 19th century saw a dramatic increase in prosperity of the island, due to its success in the global maritime trade, and the rise of the stone industry.

During World War I, approximately 3,000 island men served in the British Expeditionary Force. Of these, about 1,000 served in the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry regiment formed from the Royal Guernsey Militia in 1916.

For most of World War II, the Bailiwick was occupied by German troops. Before the occupation, many Guernsey children had been evacuated to England to live with relatives or strangers during the war. Some children were never reunited with their families. The occupying German forces deported some of the Bailiwick's residents to camps in the southwest of Germany, notably to the Lager Lindele near Biberach an der Riß. Guernsey was very heavily fortified during World War II out of all proportion to the island's strategic value. German defences and alterations remain visible.

Politics

The deliberative assembly of the States of Guernsey is called the States of Deliberation and consists of 45 People's Deputies, elected from multi- or single-member districts every four years. There are also two representatives from Alderney, a semi-autonomous dependency of the Bailiwick, but Sark sends no representative. The Bailiff or Deputy Bailiff preside in the assembly. There are also two non-voting members: H.M. Procureur and H.M. Comptroller , both appointed by the Crown and collectively known as the Law Officers of the Crown.

A Projet de Loi is the equivalent of a UK Bill or a French projet de loi, and a Law is the equivalent of a UK Act of Parliament or a French loi. A draft Law passed by the States can have no legal effect until formally approved by Her Majesty in Council and promulgated by means of an Order-in-Council. Laws are given the Royal Sanction at regular meetings of the Privy Council in London, after which they are returned to the Islands for formal registration at the Royal Court.

The States also make delegated legislation known as 'Ordinances ' and 'Orders ' which do not require the Royal Assent. Commencement orders are usually in the form of Ordinances.

The Lieutenant Governor is the representative of "the Crown in right of the république of the Bailiwick of Guernsey". The official residence of the Lieutenant Governor is Government House. Since 15 April 2011 the incumbent has been Air Marshal Peter Walker.

Each parish is administered by a Douzaine. Douzeniers are elected for a six-year mandate, two Douzeniers being elected by parishioners at a parish meeting in November each year. The senior Douzenier is known as the Doyen . Two elected Constables carry out the decisions of the Douzaine, serving for between one and three years. The longest serving Constable is known as the Senior Constable and his or her colleague as the Junior Constable.

The legal system is Guernsey customary derived from Norman French customary law, heavily influenced and overlaid by English common law, justice being administered through a combination of the Magistrates' Court and the Royal Court. Members of Guerney's legal profession are known as Advocates , there being no distinction between solicitors and barristers as in England and Wales: Guernsey Advocates fulfil both roles. The Royal Court of Guernsey is made up of the Bailiff , who presides and determines issues of law, and between twelve and sixteen Jurats , who determine issues of fact and are elected to office by an electoral college known as the States of Election . Appeals lie from the Royal Court to the Guernsey Court of Appeal and thereafter to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Several European countries have consulate presence in the island. The French Consulate is based at Victor Hugo's former residence at Hauteville House. The German Honorary Consulate is based at local design and advertising agency Betley Whitehorne Image.

While Guernsey has complete autonomy over internal affairs and certain external matters, the topic of complete independence from the British Crown has been discussed widely and frequently, with ideas ranging from Guernsey obtaining independence as a Dominion to the bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey uniting and forming an independent Federal State within the Commonwealth, whereby both islands retain their independence with regards to domestic affairs but internationally, the islands would be regarded as one state.

Geography

At , Alderney, Guernsey, Herm, Sark, and some other smaller islands have a total area of 78 square kilometres and a coastline of about 50 kilometres . By itself, the island of Guernsey has a total area of 63.4 square kilometres . Guernsey is situated 50 kilometres west of France's Normandy coast and 120 kilometres south of Weymouth, England and lies in the Gulf of St Malo. Lihou, a tidal island, is attached to Guernsey by a causeway at low tide. The terrain is mostly level with low hills in southwest. The southeastern point is Jerbourg Point, used by the Germans during World War II. Elevation varies across the bailiwick from sea level to 114 m at Le Moulin on Sark. The highest point in mainland Guernsey is Hautnez , in Alderney at Le Rond But , in Jethou and Herm . Natural resources include cropland.

Guernsey contains two main geographical regions, the Haut Pas, a high southern plateau, and the Bas Pas, a low-lying and sandy northern region. In general terms, the Haut Pas is the more rural of the two, while the Bas Pas is more residential and industrialised.

There is a large deepwater harbour at St Peter Port. The Casquets, a group of islets, are notable for the lighthouse facility constructed there.

Guernsey has a long and complex geological history.

Economy

Financial services, such as banking, fund management, and insurance, account for about 37% of GDP. Tourism, manufacturing, and horticulture, mainly tomatoes and cut flowers, especially freesias, have been declining. Light tax and death duties make Guernsey a popular offshore finance centre for private equity funds.

As with other offshore centres, Guernsey is coming under pressure from bigger nations to change its way of doing business. Guernsey is changing the way its tax system works in order to remain OECD compliant. Tax revenues are 18.2% of GDP. From 1 January 2008 it has operated a Zero-Ten corporate tax system where most companies pay 0% corporate tax and a limited number of activities are subject to taxation, including banking activity , regulated utilities and income from the sale of land or building . As a result, annual accounts showed an overall a fiscal deficit of £24m in 2011, which it aims to eliminate by economic growth and government expenditure restraint. The deficit is currently supported by drawing funds from reserves built up during periods of surplus. At present the island has no national debt.

Guernsey also has a thriving non-finance industry. It is home to Specsavers Optical Group, which manages the largest optical chain in the UK and Ireland and also operates in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Spain. Healthspan also has its headquarters in Guernsey.

Guernsey issues its own sterling coinage and banknotes. UK coinage and banknotes also circulate freely and interchangeably.

Public services, such as water, wastewater, the two main harbours and the airport are still owned and controlled by the States of Guernsey. The electricity, and postal services have been commercialised by the States and are now operated by companies wholly owned by the States of Guernsey. Gas is supplied by an independent private company.

Guernsey Telecoms, which provided telecommunications, was sold by the States to Cable & Wireless plc, rebranded as Sure and was sold to Batelco in April 2013. Newtel was the first alternative telecommunications company on the island providing a range of residential and business telecommunication services as well as high specification data centres. Wave Telecom which became JT, owned by Jersey Telecom, also provides some telecommunications excluding local loop services. Newtel was acquired by Wave Telecom in 2010. Wave Telecom then became Join Together. Both the Guernsey Post postal boxes and the telephone boxes are painted blue, but otherwise are identical to their British counterparts, the red pillar box and red telephone box. In 2009 the telephone boxes at the bus station were painted yellow just like they used to be when Guernsey Telecoms was state-owned.

During late 2011, the UK decided to end VAT relief on Channel Islands goods. This is no longer being contested by the Guernsey Government and several private firms.

Data centres are a growing part of the Guernsey economy and are helping it diversify away from mainly finance related industries.

Guernsey now has the official ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code GG and the official ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 code GGY; market data vendors, such as Reuters, will report products related to Guernsey using the alpha-3 code.

In 2013 there were over 31,000 people employed in Guernsey, with 3,000 being self-employed. 2,038 employing businesses of which 20% are in the finance industry.

Taxation

Guernsey has a 0% corporation tax rate on most companies, and a 10% rate on utility providers. Income tax is 20%. There is no VAT charged on goods and services on Guernsey.

Hotels

Alderney

  • Harbour Lights Hotel, St. Anne
  • Braye Beach Hotel, St. Anne
Guernsey

  • L'Eree Bay Hotel, St Pierre du Bois
  • The Duke of Richmond, St. Peter Port
  • Duke of Normandie, St. Peter Port
  • Les Rocquettes Hotel, St. Peter Port
  • La Fregate, St. Peter Port
  • The Old Government House Hotel and Spa, St. Peter Port
  • The St. Pierre Park Hotel, St. Peter Port
  • The Farmhouse Hotel, St. Saviours
  • Hotel Jerbourg, Jerbourg Point, St. Martin
  • Saints Bay Hotel, St. Martin
  • La Grande Mare, Castel
  • Le Friquet Country Hotel, Castel
Herm

  • White House
Sark

  • La Sablonnerie, Little Sark
Transport

Ports and harbours exist at St Peter Port and St Sampson. There are two paved airports in the Bailiwick , and 3 miles of railways in Alderney. The States of Guernsey wholly own their own airline, Aurigny Air Services. The decision to purchase the airline was made to protect important airlinks to and from the island and the sale was completed on 15 May 2003. It was announced that the States would sell Aurigny to a rival Channel Islands' airline, Blue Islands, in July 2010, but the talks fell through in September 2010 due to uncertainty as to whether arrival/departure slots at Gatwick Airport could be guaranteed.

The Guernsey Railway, virtually an electric tramway, began working on 20 February 1892 and was abandoned on 9 June 1934. It replaced an earlier transport system which was worked by steam, the Guernsey Steam Tramway. The latter began service on 6 June 1879 with six locomotives. Alderney is now the only Channel Island with a working railway.

Guernsey also has a public bus service, operated by CT Plus on behalf of the States of Guernsey Environment Department.

Demographics

The population is 62,915 . The median age for males is 40 years and for females is 42 years. The population growth rate is 0.775% with 9.62 births/1,000 population, 8 deaths/1,000 population, and annual net migration of 6.07/1,000 population. The life expectancy is 80.1 years for males and 84.5 years for females. 1.54 children are born per woman. Ethnic groups consist of British and Norman descent.

For immigration and nationality purposes it is UK law, and not Guernsey law, which applies . Guernsey may not apply different immigration controls to the UK and EEA nationals free movement rights to enter, and remain in, the territory of the British Islands , although there are de facto restrictions on occupation of housing by everyone.

The housing market is split between local market properties and a small number of open market properties. Anyone may live in an open market property, but local market properties can only be lived in by those who qualify – either through being born in Guernsey , by obtaining a housing licence, or by virtue of sharing a property with someone who does qualify.

Local Housing licences are for fixed periods, and are usually only valid for 4 years and only as long as the individual remains employed by a specified Guernsey employer.

These restrictions apply equally regardless of whether the property is owned or rented, and only applies to occupation of the property. Thus a person whose housing licence expires may continue to own a Guernsey property, but will no longer be able to live in it.

There are a number of routes to qualifying as a "local" for housing purposes. Generally, it is sufficient to be born to at least one Guernsey parent and to live in the island for ten years in a twenty-year period. Once "local" status has been achieved it remains in place for life. Even a lengthy period of residence outside Guernsey does not invalidate "local" housing status.

Although Guernsey's inhabitants are full British citizens, an endorsement restricting the right of establishment in other European Union states is placed in the passport of British citizens connected solely with the Channel Islands and Isle of Man. Those who have a parent or grandparent born in the United Kingdom itself , or who have lived in the United Kingdom for 5 years, are not subject to this restriction.

Guernsey's population decline is continuing, according to the island's first electronic census report. At the end of March 2014 the population was 62,711, which was 96 down on 2013 when it fell by more than 300.

Emergency services

  • States of Guernsey Police Service
  • Guernsey Ambulance and Rescue Service
  • Guernsey Fire and Rescue Service
  • Guernsey Harbour Authority
  • Royal National Lifeboat Institution

As in the United Kingdom, both 112 and 999 serve as emergency telephone numbers.

Education

The Education Department is part way through a programme of re-building its secondary schools. The Department has completed the building of La Rondin special needs school, the Sixth Form Centre at the Grammar School and the first phase of the new College of Further Education – a performing arts centre. The construction of St. Sampsons High was completed summer 2008 and admitted its first students in September 2008.

In the past, students could leave school at the end of the term in which they turned 14, if they so wished: a letter was required to be sent to the Education department to confirm this. However, this option was undertaken by relatively few students, the majority choosing to complete their GCSEs and then either begin employment or continue their education. From 2008 onwards, the school leaving age was raised to the last Friday in June in the year a pupil turns 16, in line with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This means students will be between 15 and 10 months and 16 and 10 months before being able to leave.

Post-GCSE students have a choice of transferring to the state run The Grammar School and Sixth Form Centre, or to the independent colleges for academic AS/A Levels/International Baccalureate Diploma Program. They also have the option to study vocational subjects at the island's Guernsey College of Further Education.

There are no universities in the island. Students who attend university in the United Kingdom receive state support towards both maintenance and tuition fees. In 2007, the Education Department received the approval of the States Assembly to introduce student contributions to the costs of higher education, in the form of student loans, as apply in the UK. However, immediately after the general election of 2008, the States Assembly voted in favour of a Requête which proposed abolishing the student loans scheme on the grounds that it was expensive to run and would potentially discourage students from going to, and then returning to the island from, university. In 2012, the Education Department reported to the States Assembly that it had no need to re-examine the basis of higher education funding at the present time.

Culture

English is the language in general use by the majority of the population, while Guernésiais, the Norman language of the island, is spoken fluently by only about 2% of the population . However, 14% of the population claim some understanding of the language. Sercquais is spoken by a few people on the island of Sark and Auregnais was spoken on the island of Alderney until it became extinct in the early twentieth century. Until the early twentieth century French was the only official language of the Bailiwick, and all deeds for the sale and purchase of real estate in Guernsey were written in French until 1971 . Family and place names reflect this linguistic heritage. George Métivier, considered by some to be the island's national poet, wrote in Guernesiais. The loss of the island's language and the Anglicisation of its culture, which began in the nineteenth century and proceeded inexorably for a century, accelerated sharply when the majority of the island's school children were evacuated to the UK for five years during the German occupation of 1940–1945.

Victor Hugo wrote some of his best-known works while in exile in Guernsey, including Les Misérables. His home in St. Peter Port, Hauteville House, is now a museum administered by the city of Paris. In 1866, he published a novel set on Guernsey, Travailleurs de la Mer , which he dedicated to the island.

The greatest novel by a Guernseyman is The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G. B. Edwards. In addition to being a critically acclaimed work of literature, it contains a wealth of insights into Guernsey life during the twentieth century. In September 2008, a blue plaque was affixed to the house on the Braye Road where Edwards was raised. A more recent novel by Guernseyman Peter Lihou,Rachel's Shoe, describes the period when Guernsey was under German occupation during the Second World War.

Henry Watson Fowler moved to Guernsey in 1903. He and his brother Francis George Fowler composed The King's English, the Concise Oxford Dictionary and much of Modern English Usage on the island.

The TV comedy series This is Jinsy is based on Guernsey and its two writers, Chris Bran and Justin Chubb, came from the island.

The national animals of the island of Guernsey are the donkey and the Guernsey cow. The traditional explanation for the donkey is the steepness of St Peter Port streets that necessitated beasts of burden for transport , although it is also used in reference to Guernsey inhabitants' stubbornness.

The Guernsey cow is a more internationally famous icon of the island. As well as being prized for its rich creamy milk, which is claimed by some to hold health benefits over milk from other breeds, Guernsey cattle are increasingly being raised for their distinctively flavoured and rich yellowy-fatted beef. Butter made from the milk of Guernsey cows also has a distinctive yellow colour. Although since the 1960s the number of individual islanders raising these cattle for private supply has diminished significantly, Guernsey steers can still be occasionally seen grazing on L'Ancresse common.

Guernsey also hosts a breed of goat known as the Golden Guernsey, distinguished by its golden-coloured coat. At the end of World War II, the Golden Guernsey had almost been rendered extinct due to interbreeding on the island. The resurrection of this breed is largely credited to the work of a single woman, Miriam Milbourne. Although no longer considered to be critically endangered, the breed remains on the watchlist of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

Guernsey people are traditionally nicknamed donkeys or ânes, especially by rival Jersey people – who, in turn, are nicknamed crapauds . Inhabitants of each of the parishes of Guernsey also have traditional nicknames, although these have generally dropped out of use among the English-speaking population. The traditional nicknames are:

The so-called Guernsey Lily, Nerine sarniensis, is also used as a symbol of the island, although this species was introduced to the island from South Africa.

A local delicacy is the ormer , a variety of abalone harvested under strict laws from beaches at low spring tides.

Of the many traditional Guernsey recipes, the most renowned is a stew called Guernsey Bean Jar. It is a centuries-old stew that is still popular with Islanders, particularly at the annual 'Viaer Marchi' festival, where it served as one of the main events. Chief ingredients include haricot and butter beans, pork and shin beef.

Guernsey Gâche is a special bread made with raisins, sultanas and mixed peel.

In July 2006, smoking in enclosed public places was banned, a law put in place to protect workers' right to a healthy working environment.

Sport

The island's traditional colour – including for sporting events – is green.

Guernsey participates in the biennial Island Games, which it hosted in 1987 and 2003 at Footes Lane. Guernsey participates in its own right in the Commonwealth Games.

In those sporting events where Guernsey does not have international representation, but the British Home Nations are competing separately, highly skilled islanders may choose to compete for any of the Home Nations. There are, however, restrictions on subsequent transfers to represent other Home Nations. The football player Matt Le Tissier, for example, could have played for the Scotland national football team but played for England instead.

Football in Guernsey is run by the Guernsey Football Association. The top tier of Guernsey football is the FNB Priaulx League where there are seven teams . The champions in 2011–12 were Northerners. The second tier is the Jackson League. The third tier, the Railway League, no longer exists. It consisted of three extra teams, the Alderney Nomads, Guernsey Police and Port City. In 2008–2009, there was a split between the two social leagues . However, the Railway League Cup is still contested as the prize for winning the Veterans League, a league consisting of the seven Priaulx League clubs plus Government United and KGV.

In the 2011–2012 season, Guernsey F.C. was formed and entered the Combined Counties League Division 1, becoming the first Channel Island club ever to compete in the English leagues. Guernsey became division champions comfortably on 24 March 2012, and won the Combined Counties Premier Challenge Cup on 4 May, beating Colliers Wood United after extra time. Their second season saw them promoted again on the final day in front of 1,754 'Green Lions' fans, this time to Division One South of the Isthmian League, despite their fixtures being heavily affected not only by poor winter weather, but by their notable progression to the semi-finals of the FA Vase cup competition.

The Corbet Football Field, donated by Jurat Wilfred Corbet OBE in 1932, has fostered the sport greatly over the years. Recently, the island upgraded to a larger, better-quality stadium, in Footes Lane.

Approximately 200 people play table tennis on a regular basis across four senior and two junior leagues. The GTTA centre, located next to the Hougue du Pommier, is equipped with 12 match tables, 6 training tables, a bar and a small café area. Guernsey sends teams to represent the island in UK and world tournaments.

The Guernsey Gaels was founded in 1996 and competes in the European Gaelic football leagues. The island hosts its own tournament each year with teams from all over Europe visiting the island.

Guernsey also has one of the oldest softball associations in the world. The Guernsey Softball Association was formally established in 1936, it is now one of the oldest and longest running softball associations to be found. Affiliated to the International Softball Federation the GSA has both fast and slow pitch leagues with over 300 members.

Guernsey was declared an affiliate member by the International Cricket Council in 2005 and an associate member in 2008.

Guernsey also enjoys motor sports. In season, races take place on the sands on Vazon beach on the west coast. Le Val des Terres, a steeply winding road rising south from St Peter Port to Fort George, is often the focus of both local and international hill-climb races. In addition, the 2005, 2006, and 2007 World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx is a Guernseyman.

The racecourse on L'Ancresse Common was re-established in 2004, and races are held on most May day Bank Holidays, with competitors from Guernsey as well as Jersey, France and the UK participating.

Sea angling around Guernsey and the other islands in the Bailiwick from shore or boat is a popular pastime for both locals and visitors with the Bailiwick boasting 12 UK records.

Overall rating: 4.7
Country in United Kingdom
Address: Guernsey, United Kingdom
Typical length of visit: 7 days

Top 10 things to do in Guernsey

Hauteville House

Hauteville House
Hauteville House is a house where Victor Hugo lived during his exile from France, located at 38 Rue Hauteville in St. Peter Port in Guernsey. In March 1927, the centenary ...