The French Culture

of the Channel Islands 

 

 

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This page is devoted to the culture of the Channel Islands which is particularly French.  Keep coming back as we intend to add to this on a regular basis. For more tourist related information go to The Jersey Page and The Guernsey Page.  There is also a page devoted to the Jersey Patois - Jèrriais.

Guernsey Farm house

 

The Channel Islands were, at one time, part of France and for centuries have retained French features and culture.  Politically linked to Brittany from 911 until 933 they became a part of Normandy (then linked to England) until  1203. The legal system set up by the Normans still exists today and for instance  Jersey advocates had to undertake studies in Caen. In 1204 England lost Normandy to King Philippe Auguste of France and the Channel Islands had a choice and decided to owe allegiance to the English crown and to be governed as a separate entity by the Kings and Queens of England. 

 

At one stage French and Channel Islands Patois were spoken more commonly than English. French was the official language and patois spoken in the home.  The arrival of the English - encouraged by easier travel to the islands on steamers and the presence of the English army in the 1800's - meant that the islands started to become a little "anglicised".   However the French influence was always strong and still remains so with place names and street names in that language. 

 

Interestingly the Normans not only invaded England in 1066, they had also gone to Sicily and the Sicilian language is closer to Norman French than Italian.

 

La Fête Nouormande is an annual event to celebrate and perpetuate the links between the islands and Normandy and which is held alternately in Jersey, Guernsey and Normandy.  Many people wear traditional dress, and there are dances and Norman songs. There are a variety of attractions including stalls selling traditional produce and it is great fun.

 

To quote La Fete Nourormande website: "Every year the Fête Nouormande brings together those who still speak our old Norman languages – from Jersey, from Guernsey and from the Norman mainland". It was held in Guernsey (Dgèrnésy) in 2003 and 2006 Jersey in 2002 and  2005  and in 2007 in Briquebec in Normandy.  Click here to go to the charming site about Normandy - Magène which tells you all about the Norman language, customs and songs and has information about the Briquebec Fete which was held in May. 

 

The next Fete is to be held in Jersey (Jèrri) in 2008 on 24-26 May 2008

 

 

 

We start with the largest island Jersey and move down to the smallest which is Brechou. Please scroll down.

 

Jersey  Click here for Jersey 2008 events.

Click here for the Jersey Page

 

Click here for the page about the Jersey Patois - Jèrriais.

 

Some Jersey links:

 

French Cultural Associations

Alliance française de Jersey

La Pouquelaye, St Helier JE2 3ZN

Tél. +44 1534 875 655

e-mail : alliancefrancaise@jerseymail.co.uk

website :www.afjersey.co.uk

 

 

Click here to see our article about the Alliance française in Jersey

 

Les Amitiés Franco-Britanniques

Mrs Nicole Hervé, Boqueho, 6 Tower View

La Grande Route de St Martin, Jersey JE2 3ZN

Tél. +44 1534 854 596

 

Other Useful Links

Jersey Family History Society - visit Alex Glendinning's informative pages

 

Jersey Heritage Trust - to quote them: "are responsible for the island's major historic sites, award-winning museums and public archives.  hold collections of artefacts, works of art, documents, specimens and information relating to Jersey's history, culture and environment."

 

Jersey Norman French  - Jersiais  Here are some examples.  Visit  The L'Assembliee d'Jèrriais to find out more.   Also go to to Language Museum to see more written Jersey French. Also go to http://www.language-museum.com/f/french-

 

medieval.htm for an example of medieval French

Jersey French

French

English

Acat

Achat

Purchase i.e. of goods

Boeu

Bouef

Beef

Cat 

Chat

Cat

Caton

Chaton

Kitten

Bounôjour

Bonjour

Hello

Aver

Avoir

Have

Chicot, dgeux,pauvre, pouôrre  - all mean

Pauvre

Poor

Chabot

Sabot

Clog

Tant piéthe

Tant pis

Never mind

 

Guernsey and islands

Click here for the Guernsey Page which is more tourist than French culture related.

 

Bailiwick of Guernsey - Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm Events 2007

 

For tourist information about the Guernsey Bailiwick please visit the Guernsey Tourism Site  www.guernseytouristboard.com - from where the pictures on the Guernsey section of this page originate.  We are happy to provide information and also to promote the culture and naturalness that is Guernsey.  The other islands forming the Bailiwick of Guernsey are Alderney, Sark, Herm, Brechou, Lihou and Jethou. 

 

French Cultural Associations

Alliance francaise de Guernsey 01481 255445        

 

One of Guernsey's former French Residents was Victor Hugo -  Victor Hugo left France where he was being persecuted for his political beliefs and lived for a short while in Jersey and then moved to Guernsey where he lived from 1855 to 1870. His Guernsey home  Hauteville House, is owned by the City of Paris. Read all about this by going to www.victorhugo.gg

 

Guernsey Norman French - Dgèrnésiais  was spoken in Guernsey for 1000 years. Go to Language Museum   where you will see an example of the Lord's Prayer in Dgèrnésiais.  Also go to http://www.language-museum.com/f/french-medieval.htm for an example of medieval French.   For a more detailed description go to http://user.itl.net/~panther/dguern.htm  Marie De Garis’ Dictiounnaire Angllais-Guernesiais English-Dgernesiais Dictionary is a dictionary of the language

"Les Ravigotteurs" is an association devoted to the Dgernesiais patois  and L’Assembllaïe D’Guernesiais is an association supporting Guernsey culture.

 

Inner Harbour AlderneyAlderney is just 8 miles from Normandy.  It is twinned with the Norman town of Beaumont-Hague www.agglo-lahague.fr  In the 900s AD the island in common with the other Channel Islands was a part of the Province of Rouen.  To quote the Alderney Website "William the Conquerer granted the Church in Alderney to the Abbey of St. Michel in exchange for part of Guernsey in 1042 and transferred it to the Bishop of Coutances in 1057. " Visit this site to discover all about Alderney's unique history. http://www.alderney.gov.gg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family History - Alderney  Sark

La Seigneurie Gardens SarkSark is a little jewel of an island in the Channel. For more information go to their delightful website and better still subscribe to Jennifer Cochrane's charming newsletters. To quote from their website  "In 1565, Queen Elizabeth I granted Sark to Helier de Carteret as a 'fief haubert' and the island's unique status has remained the same ever since. Today, Sark holds the last remaining feudal constitution in the Western world; neither part of the United Kingdom nor European Union, yet not a sovereign state either. The Seigneur holds the island from the Monarch in perpetuity, and governs in conjunction with Chief Pleas, the island's parliament." To find out more please go to the website  http://www.sark.info

To read the latest Sark News - which is updated weekly, go to http://www.sark.info/news/

 

Shell Beach Herm

Herm  is best known for its shell beaches.  Go to http://www.herm-island.com/ which is their official web site.  There is a regular boat service between Sark and Herm. Accommodation is available there and the only hotel on Herm is the White House Hotel,  where there are no telephones, televisions or clocks.  Herm has always been an attraction for people seeking solace and has thus appealed to monks including a Celtic monk St Tugual 
and to whom the Herm Chapel was dedicated in the sixth century. In 1569  Herm was then handed over by the Norman dukes into the control of Norman monasteries. The history of Herm is fascinating.  We strongly recommend visiting their website to discover more.

 

 

 

Lihou  - one can walk to Lihou at low-tide using a causeway one quarter mile long from L’Erée headland.  The island is very beautiful and has a priory which is believed to have been established by Benedictine monks from Mont Saint Michel in Normandy in the 12th century.  The monks continued to use this perhaps well after the Channel Islands swore allegiance to the English throne.  For more information go to http://www.gov.gg/boa/lihou.htm

Jethou taken from Herm with Guernsey in the background

 

Jethou

 

 This tiny island has many standing stones and was once walled.  It has the most beautiful bluebell wood. Jetou was occupied by the Faed family until 1971 and tourists were encouraged to come to the island but since then it has not been open to the public.  Colin Faed has  created a website about Jethou go to http://www.faed.net/jethou.htm.  Collin has very kindly permitted the use of his photos. 

To quote from the Jethou guide- book regarding Jethou's links to France :"In 1028 Duke Robert of Normandy, gave the Island to his ‘Admiral’ Restald for some service he had performed.  Restald, on his retirement from active life and to Jethou CrestgainFairy Wood with bluebells and Standing Stone at front which aligns with one in Herm his entrance to the Monastery of Mont St. Michel in Normandy, bequeathed Jethou to the Monks of that Establishment, in effect to secure for his old age a home and the wherewithal to live. In 1158 a certain Guillaume Chesney was granted the tenancy by Prince John Earl of Montaine, how this was arranged is not known but on Chesney’s death it reverted to Mont St. Michel. In 1270 Prince Edward granted to Sir William de Chesney the right of keeping a warren in the Channel Islands—this was in Jethou, so the rabbits whose descendants are still with us, must have already been here On Sir William’s death the Island reverted to the representative of Mont St. Michel in Guernsey, namely the Abbot of the Vale Priory.As a result of an Act of Parliament under Henry V in 1414 the French Monasteries in the Channel Islands were suppressed and Jethou passed from the hands of Mont St. Michel after 350 years. It is believed however that other Benedictine Monks occupied the Island for another 100 years"

 

 

Crevichon from upper path

Brechou is a part of Sark and in turn Sark is a part of Guernsey.  However the island is privately owned and as a private residence, in effect, we are not going to disclose information about the island other than that it is very small with a few fields and is not a tourist location.