The Channel Islands are a group of
islands off the coast of Normandy, France, in
the English Channel. They comprise two separate
bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the
Bailiwick of Jersey.
Major articles: History of Jersey, History of
The Islands were annexed to the Duchy of
Normandy in 933. In 1066 the Duke William the
Conqueror invaded and conquered England,
becoming the English monarch. 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 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, Channel Television.
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.
During the Second World War, the Islands were
the only British soil occupied by Germany
(excepting that part of Egypt occupied by the
Afrika Korps at the time of the Second Battle of
El Alamein). The Nazi occupation 1940-1945 was
harsh, with some island residents being taken
for slave labour on the Continent; native Jews
sent to concentration camps; partisan resistance
and retribution; accusations of collaboration;
and slave labour (primarily Russians and eastern
Europeans) being brought to the islands to build
fortifications. The Royal Navy blockaded the
islands from time to time, particularly
following the liberation of mainland Normandy in
1944. Intense negotiations resulted in some Red
Cross humanitarian aid, but there was
considerable hunger and privation during the
five years of German occupation.
Viewed from Jersey's north coast, Jethou, Herm
and Sark are hazy outlines on the horizonThe
inhabited islands of the Channel Isles 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, but the Minquiers and Ecréhous,
uninhabited groups of islets, are part of the
Bailiwick of Jersey. Burhou lies 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.
There is another small island Chausey, south of
Jersey - not generally included in the
geographical definition of the Channel Islands
but occasionally as a 'Channel Island' in
English despite its French jurisdiction. It is
part of France and is incorporated in the
commune of Granville (Manche), and although
popular with visitors from France, it is rarely
visited by Channel Islanders as there are no
direct transport links from the other islands.
In official Channel Island 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
Main article: Culture of Jersey, Culture of
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
Victor Hugo spent many years in exile, first in
Jersey and then in Guernsey where he wrote Les
Misérables. Guernsey is also the setting of
Hugo's later novel, Les travailleurs de la mer
(The Toilers of the Sea).
The annual Muratti, the inter-Island football
match, is considered the sporting event of the
year - although, thanks to broadcast coverage,
it no longer attracts the crowds of spectators
travelling between the islands that occurred
during the 20th century.
Channel Island sportsmen and women compete in
the Commonwealth Games for their respective
Islands, and the Islands have been enthusiastic
supporters of the Island Games. Shooting is a
popular sport - islanders have won Commonwealth
medals in this discipline.
Guernsey's traditional colour for sporting and
other purposes is green, and Jersey's is red.
This statue of a crapaud in St. Helier
represents the traditional nickname for Jersey
peopleThe main islanders have traditional animal
Guernsey: les ânes ("donkeys" in French and
Jèrriais) - 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.
Jersey: crapauds ("toads" in French and Jèrriais)
- Jersey has toads and snakes that Guernsey
Sark: corbins ("crows" in Sercquiais,
Dgèrnésiais and Jèrriais) - Crows could be seen
from sea on the island's coasts.
Alderney: lapins ("rabbits") - The island is
noted for its warrens.
Christianity was brought to the islands around
the 6th century; according to tradition, Jersey
was evangelized 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.