Culture & History | Experiences 14 June 2018

The Potato Peel Pie Experience

For many literature lovers, Mary-Ann Shaffer’s 2008 novel “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” painted a vivid image of an island that seemed a world away from mainland Britain, despite being in relatively close proximity.

Some fans of the book have even travelled to Guernsey to see some of the sights mentioned, and to experience island life first hand! 

A visit to the beautiful harbour town of St Peter Port is an essential aspect of any trip to Guernsey, and while any visitor is sure to love the unique charm of the island’s pretty capital, it bears even more significance for fans of Shaffer’s book.

The harbour itself is one of the island’s most iconic landmarks, and watching the boats come and go on a summer’s day is a very pleasant experience. However on the 28th of June 1940, as depicted by Shaffer, it played host to one of the darkest days in Guernsey’s history. German aircraft dropped bombs upon what they thought were vehicles carrying troops, but were actually just trucks filled with tomatoes, causing the deaths of 34 innocent civilians.

Similarly, the North Esplanade is now home to a range of restaurants and charming boutique shops, however a fan of the book may recall that it was crowded with German soldiers at the very beginning of the occupation, a far cry from its current state. Today, St Peter Port is dotted with memorials of the bombing, occupation and liberation.

Beyond the seafront, there are plenty more notable locations to visit. The High Street, Candie Gardens and Victoria Tower are all mentioned in the book, while the original archway from the Town Hospital still stands, although it is now home to the island’s police department.

A short journey south from St Peter Port will take you to the parish of St Martins, which is where many of the book’s characters resided on their farms. The more rural parts of the parish have hardly changed since the era depicted by Shaffer, while the nearby cliff paths offer some unforgettable views.

Further inland, there are more attractions that also feature in the novel. The unique charm of the Little Chapel is in stark contrast to the eerie atmosphere inside the German Military Underground Hospital, however both are truly worth visiting.

In fact, there are relics of the occupation dotted all over the island; almost every single headland on the island’s west coast has some sort of fortification upon it, many of which were either built or updated during the Second World War.

It is even possible to go on a guided tour focused around locations featured in the book; locally accredited tour guides offer such tours at very reasonable rates. Or you can our visit dedicated microsite on The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society to find out more of the story behind the film.

If the thought of the Potato Peel Pie Experience is one that excites you, start planning your trip to The Islands of Guernsey today.

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