|Anthem: Sarnia Cherie (Guernsey)|
|Government||Dependency of Guernsey|
|-||Duke||Queen Elizabeth II|
|-||Lt Governor||Peter Walker|
|-||Tenants||John and Julia Singer|
0.77 sq mi
|Currency||Pound sterlinga (
|Time zone||GMT (UTC+0)|
|-||Summer (DST)||WEST (UTC+1)|
|Internet TLD||.gg (Guernsey)|
|a.||The States of Guernsey, of which Herm is a dependency, issue their own sterling coins and banknotes; see Guernsey pound.|
Herm (Guernésiais: Haerme) is the smallest of the Channel Islands that is open to the public and is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Cars are banned from the small island as they are on its Channel Island neighbour, Sark. Unlike Sark, Herm also bans bicycles. However, Herm does allow quad bikes and tractors for the locals.
Herm won the 2002 and 2008 Britain in Bloom competition in the "Small Coastal Resort" category.
- 1 History
- 2 Language
- 3 Politics
- 4 Geography and geology
- 5 Religion
- 6 Economy and buildings
- 7 Emergency services
- 8 Demographics
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
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 the governors of Guernsey used it as a hunting ground.
19th century to 1940
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 let to tenants by the Crown and was generally off-limits to visitors. When Prince Blücher leased the island from the British government during the First World War, he introduced a colony of wallabies to the island. None now survives.
Between 1920 and 1923, the noted Scottish writer and founder of the Scottish National Party Compton Mackenzie was tenant of the island; among his best known works are The Monarch of the Glen and Whisky Galore.
World War II
The German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II essentially by-passed Herm. On 25 July 1940, a few weeks after the arrival of German troops in Guernsey and Jersey, nine German soldiers landed on the island in a commandeered motor boat to shoot a propaganda film. They went back to Guernsey the same day. Herm's sandy beaches were soon used for practising landings from barges, in preparation for the invasion of England, but otherwise the island saw little of the Germans beyond officers making trips to shoot rabbits. Herm was spared the huge concrete blockhouses, anti-tank walls and observation towers that were built on the larger islands.
This British military operation was originally planned for the night of 9/10 February 1943 as a set of simultaneous raids on Herm, Jethou and Brecqhou to take prisoners and gain general information about the situation in the occupied Channel Islands. It was to be carried out by 42 men from the Small Scale Raiding Force and No. 4 Commando, but was cancelled because of bad weather.
Huckaback was reinvented as a raid on Herm alone on the night of 27/28 February 1943. Ten men of the Small Scale Raiding Force under Captain P. A. Porteous (VC) landed 200 yards to the north-west of Selle Rocque on a shingle beach and made three unsuccessful attempts to climb the cliff in front of them. Porteous finally managed to climb up the bed of a stream and pulled the others up with a rope.
On reaching Belvoir House, they found it broken into and abandoned. The Old Tower of Herm and the Chateau were also deserted. They later reported that they had found no sign of any Islanders or Germans (who were supposed to be billeted near the harbour).
After the war, the States of Guernsey bought Herm from the Crown so that its pleasant atmosphere could be enjoyed by Guernsey residents. The States now lease the island to a tenant, who is expected to maintain the island for the benefit of its visitors.
The most influential tenant has been Major Peter Wood, who looked after the island from 1949 to 1980. The island was essentially derelict when he arrived and what few buildings were in reasonable condition lost their roofs and windows when a naval mine, a relic of World War II, drifted into the harbour on the rising tide and exploded. After 1980 Adrian and Pennie Wood Heyworth (Major Wood's daughter) took over. Major Wood died in 1998. The condition of the island today testifies to the hard work of the Woods in restoring it. Their early efforts are recorded in the book by Jenny Wood, wife of the Major, Herm, Our Island Home.
It was reported by BBC News and ITV Channel Television on 17 May 2008 that the tenants had put the remaining 40 years of their lease up for sale, with an asking price of £15,000,000. In September 2008 it was announced that Starboard Settlement, a trust, had acquired the remainder of the lease for considerably less than the asking price. The trust formed a Guernsey company, Herm Island Ltd, to manage the island for the trustees.
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 the Norman language, but no documentary evidence exists as to any distinctive dialectal features particular to the vernacular of Herm. The Norman language is extinct in Herm now. It was eroded mainly by neglect, and also settlers from England. However, a number of French/Norman placenames remain.
The Herm Island map, published by the tenant of Herm, states:
- "The origins of many of the place names in the island are obscure, as indeed is the name 'Herm' itself"
Over the years, there has been a steady Anglicisation of the island's nomenclature, and this erosion still occurs to a minor extent, in the replacement of authentic names, with new ones e.g. the northern tip of the island is properly called "La Pointe du gentilhomme" but is often referred to as "Alderney Point".
Fieldnames are generally in English, with the following exceptions: "Monku", "Belvoir" and "Bon Jour".
Remnants of Old Norse are scanty, but examples would be the second element of Pointe Sauzebourge on the south west tip of the island, while the rock of "Le Plat Houmet" contains the Houmet (holmr) with a Norman diminutive.
"Hermetier", a tidal islet just offshore, may be a corruption of the Norman for "Land of Herm".
Herm is a dependency of Guernsey, and is in fact owned by the States of Guernsey, being rented out to various tenants (see List of tenants of Herm). 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.
Geography and geology
Herm is only 1½ miles long and less than half a mile wide. It is oriented so that its greatest length runs north-south. The northern half of the coastline is surrounded by sandy beaches, the southern half is rocky.
Shell Beach and Belvoir Bay are two of the major tourist attractions.
To the west is the channel Little Roussel (Petit Ruau) between it and Guernsey, and the Big Roussel (Grand Ruau) to the east, between it and Sark. The tower in the Little Roussel that one passes when sailing between Herm and St Peter Port is the Bréhon Tower, a Victorian-era fortification.
Herm has no consecrated religious buildings or resident professional clergy. St Tugual's Chapel, however, is an ancient Christian chapel on the island and at one time part of a monastery based on Herm. Today it is non-denominational and is served by visiting clergy for weekly services during the summer months. Monthly services are held during the winter, largely led by local lay people.
Economy and buildings
Tourism is Herm's main source of income, with the majority of tourists arriving on one of the Trident catamaran ferries (Herm Trident V and Herm Trident VI) operated by the Trident Charter Company. On some busy days, the Herm Clipper is also called into service. Herm contains the historic White House hotel.
Money is also made from vegetable growing, livestock and the occasional issue of stamps.
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 hose-reel, pump, 2,000 litre water tank, and basic fire-fighting equipment with which to tackle fires whilst awaiting assistance from the Guernsey Fire Brigade, who also provide the Herm volunteers with training and support.
The local demography tends towards the elderly, with few 18-30 olds living in the island at any given time. However during the summer months, workers come over to be employed in the beach kiosks or the White House Hotel or the Mermaid Tavern.
- Blücher, Evelyn (1920). An English Wife in Berlin. E. P. Dutton & Company. p. vii.
- "A Life Less Ordinary". 2006-03-20. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- Wood, Jenny (1972-07-27). Herm, Our Island Home. Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 0709134193.
- "New Herm tenants vow to keep it open to all". This Is Guernsey. 23 September 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- "Seventh Periodic Report from the United Kingdom, the British Overseas Territories, the Crown Dependencies". UK Government. December 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- "General Election – 23.4.2008". Guernsey Government. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- "About Herm". Island Life. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- "1,400 years of religious history in Herm's chapel". BBC News. 21 May 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- "CD of British Locals (Including English, Welsh and Scottish Islands)". Pabay.org. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- "Policing on Herm". 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
- "Herm has more First Responders". Herm.com. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- "About Us › 75th Anniversary". Guernsey Ambulance & Rescue Service. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- "New trailer for Herm firefighters". This is Guernsey. 11 January 2003. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- Herm, Channel Island website
- Major Peter Wood – The Independent obituary
- Blue Islands – Airline servicing the Bailiwick of Guernsey
- Ralph Phillips. Modern British Locals Catalogue. Part I [CD-ROM] (title from CD-ROM label). [S.l.]: British Locals Philatelic Agency, 2009.