Herm

Herm Island

Herm Island

Herm (Guernésiais: Haerme) is one of the Channel Islands and part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, located in the English Channel, north-west of France and south of England. It is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long and under 0.5 miles (0.80 km) wide; orientated north-south, with several stretches of sand along its northern coast. Guernsey lies to the west and Jersey to the south-east, and the smaller island of Jethou is just off the south-west coast.

Herm was first discovered in the Mesolithic period, and the first settlers arrived in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Many tombs from that period remain today, the majority in the north of the island. The island was annexed to the Duchy of Normandy in 933, but returned to the English Crown with the division of Normandy in 1204.
It was occupied by Germany in the Second World War and the scene of Operation Huckaback, but was largely bypassed. Herm is currently managed by Herm Island Ltd, formed by Starboard Settlement, who acquired Herm in 2008, following fears during the sale of the island that the ‘identity’ of the island was at threat.

Herm’s harbour is on its west coast. There are several buildings of note in the vicinity including the White House, St Tugual’s Chapel, Fisherman’s Cottage, “The Mermaid” pub and restaurant, and a small primary school with about eight children. During a busy summer season, up to 100,000 tourists visit the island, arriving by one of the catamaran ferries operated by the Trident Charter Company. Cars are banned from the island, as are bicycles; quad bikes and tractors used for staff and luggage transport respectively are allowed.


 

Flag of Herm

Herm FlagThe flag of Herm is white with a red St George’s Cross with a banner of the arms of Herm in the canton; the arms are azure, between two dolphins argent a bend or bearing three cowled monks sable.

The ratio is 3:5. The flag was designed by the British vexillologist William Crampton.

The arms of Herm was adopted in 1953. Around 1951 the island used a blue flag with the coat of arms of Guernsey near the hoist.

The Herm flag is flown at the White House, the island’s only hotel, and the Union Jack is flown above the island’s Keep to show the island’s British connections.


 

History of Herm

Herm AerialHerm was occupied in prehistoric times; the remains of Neolithic chamber tombs have been found in the island. The first records of Herm’s inhabitants in historic times are from the 6th century, when the island became a centre of monastic activity; the name ‘Herm’ supposedly derives from hermits who settled there (although an alternative interpretation derives Herm from Norse erm referring to an arm-like appearance of the island). However, the monks suffered from the inclement Atlantic; in 709, a storm washed away the strip of land which connected the island with the small uninhabited island of Jethou.
The most important moment in Herm’s political history was 933, when the Channel Islands were annexed to the Duchy of Normandy (they remain a British Crown dependency since the division of Normandy in 1204). After the annexation, Herm gradually lost its monastic inhabitants, and between 1570 and 1737 it was used as a hunting ground by the governors of Guernsey.
In the 19th century, industry arrived in Herm with the establishment of granite quarries to serve the large scale military fortifications undertaken in the islands.
The island was rented to tenants by the Crown and was generally off-limits to visitors. When Prince Blücher was Tenant before the First World War, he introduced a colony of wallabies to the island – none now survive.

Like the rest of the Channel Islands, Herm was occupied by the Nazis during World War II, although they left little trace of their presence in the island. After the war, the States of Guernsey decided to buy Herm from the Crown in order that its pleasant atmosphere could be enjoyed by Guernsey residents.
The States now rent the island to a tenant, who is expected to maintain the island for the benefit of its visitors.
The most important tenant has been Major Peter Wood, who looked after the island from 1949 to 1998. The present tenants are Adrian and Pennie Wood Heyworth.


 

Geography & Geology

Map of Herm Island

Map of Herm Island – Click to enlarge

Herm is only 1½ miles long and less than half a mile wide. It is oriented so that its greatest length runs north–south.
In the northern part of the island are the Le Petit Monceau and Le Grande Monceau hills.
To the north of this is a common, leading to Mouisonniere Beach on the northern coast, with Oyster Point in the northwestern corner and La Pointe du Gentilhomme or Alderney Point at the northeastern corner.
To the east of the common is Shell Beach and to the west is The Bear’s Beach, leading down to the harbour.
Half of the coastline of the northern part of the island is surrounded by sandy beaches; the southern half is rocky.
Much of Herm’s bedrock is granite.
In 2008, Adrian Heyworth, who was at the time the island’s tenant, said that two or three metres of sand were being lost annually at Alderney Point.

Off the northwestern coast of Herm is the islet of Le Plat Houmet, and beyond that Fondu, which like Herm belongs to Guernsey.
In Belvoir Bay on the eastern side of the island are the islets of Mouliere, situated off Frenchman’s Point which is to the northeast of the manor village, and Caquorobert.
To the south of this off the southeastern coast is Puffin Bay, which contains the islet of Putrainez near the coast and the islet of Selle Rocque further out to the south.
The far southwestern point of the island is Point Sauzebourge, and Bishop’s Cove is just to the north of this.
North of the cove and south along the beach from the harbour and White House are the Rosiere Steps, with a quarry and cottage of the same name in the vicinity.
The Mouette and Percee reefs are offshore here. Hermetier, along known as Rat’s Island, lies about 250 metres (820 ft) off the western coast between Fisherman’s Beach and The Bear’s Beach, to the north of the harbour, linked by a low causeway from the beach.

The isle of Jethou is around three-quarters of a mile to the southwest beyond Point Sauzebourge. It is possible that in AD 709 a storm washed away the strip of land that connected Jethou to Herm.
About 215 metres (705 ft) off the northern coast of Jethou is the islet of Crevichon, which measures about 212 metres (696 ft) by 168 metres (551 ft), with an area of less than three hectares.
To the west, between Herm and Guernsey, lies the channel Little Roussel (Petit Ruau); between Herm and Sark, to the east, lies the Big Roussel (Grand Ruau).
Bréhon Tower, a Victorian-era fortification, is in the Little Roussel between Herm and St Peter Port. The tower was created by Thomas Charles de Putron (1806–1869) using granite from Herm between 1854 and 1856.


 

Language

Like the rest of the Channel Islands, Herm was formerly officially administered solely in the French language. It is presumed that, as in neighbouring islands, the population would have spoken a variety of Norman languages, but no documentary evidence exists as to any distinctive dialectal features particular to the vernacular of Herm. The language is extinct there now, though a number of French placenames remain. It was eroded mainly by neglect, and also settlers from England.


 

Politics

Herm is a dependency of Guernsey, and is rented out to various tenants. Unlike the largely autonomous islands of Sark and Alderney within the Bailiwick, Herm is administered entirely by the States of Guernsey, and elects members to the States of Deliberation as part of the St Peter Port South electoral district.

Cars and bicycles are banned from Herm, in order to keep “peace and tranquility”. However, Herm does allow quad bikes and tractors for staff and luggage transport respectively.


 

Economy & Services

Herm Coast Path

Herm Coastal Path

Tourism is Herm’s main source of income. During a busy summer season, up to 100,000 tourists visit the island, arriving by one of the Travel Trident catamaran ferries operated by the Trident Charter Company. Money is also made from vegetable growing, livestock and the occasional issue of stamps. The residents in Herm are workers on the island and their families.

There are three volunteer Special Constables resident on the island, trained and supervised by the States of Guernsey Police Service. On Bank Holidays they are augmented by a visiting full-time Constable from Guernsey. Crime rates on the island are low.

There are no medical facilities on Herm and no resident doctor. A small team of first aiders and community first responders is maintained amongst the resident population, and receives regular training from the Guernsey Ambulance and Rescue Service, a private company operating on a charitable basis under the umbrella of the Venerable Order of Saint John. Medical evacuation to hospital in Guernsey, where necessary, is achieved by means of the ambulance launch ‘Flying Christine III’ operated by the Guernsey Ambulance and Rescue Service.

A voluntary fire service operates on the island. Herm Fire Brigade operates a tractor-hauled fire tender with a hose-reel, a pump, a 2,000-litre water tank, and basic fire-fighting equipment which they use while waiting for assistance from the Guernsey Fire Brigade, who also provide the Herm volunteers with training and support.


 

Herm Coupon

The 1 Pound Local Currency Coupon was issued to Mr. & Mrs. Stanton (penned) and was good from 4.4.(19)58 to 12.4(19)58.
It was valid for purchases at the following establishments on Herm Island:
The White House Hotel, The Old Boat Gift Shop The Mermaid Tavern, The Long Barn Snack Bar and The Beach Huts.
It was also possible to redeem the coupon at the Herm Island Administration Office and fortunately this note was saved.
It was hand signed by Secretary and Accountant and a Tenant of Herm. Affixed to the face of the note is a 6 pence Herm Island postage stamp. The Herm Island coupon appears to have been lithographed.

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