Brecqhou (Brechou) is one of the Channel Islands, located at about 49° 26′ N x 2° 23′ W, just west of Sark. Its surface area is approximately 200 acres. It is a tenement of Sark (although the current tenants dispute this), which is in turn part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
The island is separated from Sark by an extremely narrow sound (Le Goulliot Passage) which, according to legend, has only once been traversed by boat in a high tide. However in reality it is traversed frequently by yachts during each summer and by fishing boats year round and even forms a part of the route taken by occasional powerboating events in the islands.
The origin of the name is as follows: -hou as found in many island names around the Norman coast derives from Old Norse language holm (island or islet); brekka signifies a cliff or escarpment (cf. Bricquebec).
Since 1993 the tenement of Brecqhou has been owned by the Barclay brothers, identical twins, who are better known as co-owners of The Daily Telegraph newspaper and former co-owners of The Scotsman. Under the Reform (Sark) Law 1951, the tenant is David Barclay who is entitled to occupy the tenant’s seat in Chief Pleas, the parliament of Sark.
Since the purchase the Barclays have been in several legal disputes with the government of Sark, and have expressed a desire to make Brecqhou politically independent from Sark. They drive cars on the island, and have a helicopter, both of which are banned under Sark law.
1966–1987: Leonard Joseph Matchan
From 1993: Sir David Barclay
The former tenant, Leonard Joseph Matchan, had devised a personal flag (identical to the Sark flag, with the exception that the Matchan arms was emblazoned on the bottom right).
Although frequently considered the island flag, this was only a personal flag, and is not in use anymore.
It was warranted on 23 November 1967 by Lord Lyon.
It’s the same as the flag of Sark with the two lions confined to the inner canton of the flag and not dispersed over the left arm of the St George’s cross as well as the canton, and with the shield of Brecqhou in the lower fly canton.
There are three sea-gulls over two and two half vair over three trefoils. I don’t know the colours.
Leonard Joseph Matchan, had issued stamps in 1969. Matchan occupied Brecqhou until his death on October 6, 1987. The current tenants have issued postage stamps annually since 1999.
In September 1969 the then owner of Brecqhou, Leonard Matchan, planned and executed an issue of stamps, more properly called “carriage labels” they were ostensibly to pay for the cost of delivering letters and parcels to a recognised General Post Office.
The older spelling of Brechou was used on these stamps. The day after the issue, stamps of Brecqhou were suppressed by the Guernsey Postal Authority when they took over responsibility from the U.K. for the issue of postal stamps.
Colonel Patrick Wootton crown tenant of Lihou, an island west of Guernsey had also issued stamps, profits from which helped to finance his ‘Lihou Youth Fellowship’ project. On the last day of G.P.O. jurisdiction over the mails (September 30th 1969) an interesting event took place.
By arrangement with Leonard Matchan, Lihou/Brecqhou and Brecqhou/Lihou postal covers were issued and carried from both islands by Mr. Matchan’s
A crowd gathered on the tiny island of Lihou to witness what was probably the first ever landing of an aircraft on the island. Nothing further was issued until December 1999. In that month Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay commissioned a Christmas label to be used on mail going by boat via St. Peter Port, Guernsey and on mail sent by helicopter to Exeter or London. Further issues were commissioned on various island themes, early issues were imperforate but from 2003 all are perforated, professionally designed and printed.