Culture & History 2 May 2018

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Guernsey

The Island of Guernsey has had a long and eventful history, much of it shrouded in mystery and folklore, and visitors are often gripped by tales of the island’s past. Here are some facts that you probably didn’t know about our fascinating island.

1. Guernsey has one of the world's largest tidal ranges

Guernsey’s tidal range of 33 feet is one of the largest in the world, transforming the coastline every six hours or so. High tides are perfect for swimming, and children love to explore the rock pools at low tide.

2. It is home to one of the oldest post boxes in the British Isles

The post box in Union Street is the oldest cast iron pillar-box still in use anywhere in the British Isles. It is easily recognisable, as it is the only red post box in Guernsey; all the others are painted blue

3. Houses have special seats for witches

Many of the houses in Guernsey’s west have an unusual strange piece of granite sticking out of them – these are “witches’ seats”. Back when they supposedly ran wild in the western parishes, residents built them onto their houses so that the witches could stop and rest, rather than causing havoc.

4. We have a world-renowned dairy herd

The world-renowned Guernsey cow produces some of the most rich and delicious dairy products in the world; this is because of the high butterfat and protein levels in its milk.

5. Guernsey was once invaded by fairies

According to local folklore, Guernsey was once invaded by a group of fairies, amazed by the beauty of the local women. The bloody battle that was said to have followed inspired the name of Rouge Rue in St Peter Port, which translates as “Red Road” and refers to the blood that flowed through the street.

6. The island used to be connected to mainland Europe

The island itself used to be the tip of a peninsula attached to mainland Europe, however rising sea levels separated it from modern-day France approximately 8,000 years ago.

7. Folklore suggests wishes made at The Fairy Ring will come true

The Fairy Ring is a mysterious circle in the ground at the island’s western extremity, Pleinmont. It was a stopping point for officials of the Royal Court who paraded across Guernsey, and folklore suggests that if you walk around it three times and then make a wish, it will come true.

8. Spring comes to Guernsey early!

Spring actually arrives four weeks earlier in Guernsey than on mainland Britain, which allows some unique and very beautiful flora to grow on the island.

9. Guernsey was the location of the world's first underwater arrest

The world’s first underwater arrest occurred in Guernsey. Mr Kempthorne-Leigh was illegally harvesting ormers, a popular local shellfish, and was arrested by a scuba-diving police officer!

10. Castle Cornet was once besieged by Guernsey itself

Castle Cornet was built in the 13th century, and has since been under the control of England, France, Germany and even besieged by Guernsey itself, before being handed over as a gift to the islanders from King George VI after the Second World War.

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