Most people in mainland Britain have a vague knowledge of Guernsey, yet what they know is likely shrouded in mysticism. It’s an unfortunate side effect of your most famous features being Fairy Rings and Witches Seats, I guess. Nonetheless the island is a fascinating and culturally rich place and although unlike its neighbour Jersey it doesn’t have its own language (Jerriaise- a unique form of Norman french), it does have its own sense of strong cultural identity. Nestled in the channel between the United Kingdom and France, this unassuming island is at the centre of some interesting economic and industrial renovations.
It’s a fascinating and welcoming haven for wanderers or those who want to get in on the ground floor of its economic boom and shift in industry. Here are some little known facts about Guernsey that may just shatter your preconceptions…
It’s closer to France Than Britain
Although under the protection of the crown, Guernsey is geographically closer to France by over 50%, lying 120km off England’s south coast, yet 50km off the French northwest coast. Nonetheless, in its language and general culture, the British influences are the most prominent. Although the island’s official language is French, the actuality is that French is spoken as a second language (if at all) by most residents.
It’s a hub of finance and creativity
If you thought that Guernsey was known only for knitwear, seafood and dairy products, think again! Although these traditional exports do form a significant part of the economy, Guernsey is known predominantly as a financial hub. Approximately 33% of Guernsey’s economy is based around banking fund management, private wealth management and insurance, although it’s also the home of Specsavers’ creative department. Check out this guide to a life in Guernsey if working in these areas appeals to you. Guernsey has its own tax system and a Right To Work document is required by the Housing Authority.
It was occupied by the Nazis in World War II
Along with the rest of the channel islands, Guernsey was amongst the only British protected soil that was invaded and occupied by Nazi forces in the Second World War.
Guernsey was home to neolithic peoples
The island’s rich history is well documented in its various museums, but it also plays host to some truly spectacular neolithic sites. The tombs at Le Dehus Dolmen remains Guernsey’s most spectacular passage grave and includes some rare examples of prehistoric tomb art.
There’s something special about Guernsey cows
It’s oft remarked amongst visitors that Guernsey dairy products are amongst the richest and creamiest in the world. While Guernsey cows are exported all over the world to New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and now North America, there are plenty of pedigree bred Guernsey cows to delight visitors with their superior dairy. Guersney cows’ milk contains unusually high concentrations of protein and butterfat which give it its creamy texture, although it is also high in beta carotene which gives it its slightly golden colour.
Whether you’ve a mind to relocate or want to scratch your wanderlust itch without learning a new language or going too far afield, Guernsey may well have a lot to offer you.