Thursday 18 December 2008

Sark, Channel Islands

Postmarked Guernsey Post Office, dated 19 September 1979.

Grande Greve, Sark.  The sea pinks seen in our picture growing on rocky coast are one of many lovely species of wild flowers which thrive on Sark. The beach at Grande Greve shown in our picture lying 300 feet below, is reached by a steep and winding footpath.

The smallest of the Channel Islands, Sark, has just had an election for the first time.  It is the last territory in Europe to have abolished feudalism for democracy.  It has a population of 600 and an area of 2 square miles (5.5 sq km).  The only motorised vehicles allowed on the island are tractors.

From Wikipedia:
In August 1990 an unemployed French nuclear physicist named André Gardes attempted a singlehanded invasion of Sark, armed with a semi-automatic weapon. The night Gardes arrived he put up signs declaring his intention to take over the island the following day at noon. He was arrested by the island's volunteer Constable, while sitting on a bench, changing the gun's magazine and waiting for noon to arrive.

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  1. Sark looks like a fantastic place to visit. I was reading about it on Wikipedia a couple of days ago and thought the following by was also interesting:

    "Among the old laws of the Channel Islands is the old Norman custom of the Clameur de Haro. Using this legal device, a person can obtain immediate cessation of any action he considers to be an infringement of his rights. At the scene, he must, in front of witnesses, recite the Lord's Prayer in French and cry out "Haro, Haro, Haro! À mon aide mon Prince, on me fait tort!" ("Haro, Haro, Haro! To my aid, my Prince! I am being wronged!") It should then be registered with the Greffe Office within 24 hours. All actions against the person must then cease until the matter is heard by the Court. The last Clameur recorded on Sark was raised in June 1970 to prevent the construction of a garden wall."

  2. A Clameur would be SO much better than objecting to the planning authorities!

  3. Actually Sark, which is an interesting place to visit, ( I have been there) has been holding elections for 80 years but that does not make such a good headline. The strange truth is that this place has its own parliament, and has had it for hundreds of years. And despite having only 600 or so inhabitants it is self governing in everything save defence and foreign affairs. Until this year the parliament, the Chief Pleas, consisted of the Seigneur - a feudal title which really just means that he owns the Island. The current Seigneur inherited it from an ancestor who bought the Island from a previous seigneur.- the 40 other Landowners who each leased a farm form the Seigneur, and 12 deputies of the people elected by everyone else. Last year Chief Pleas reformed itself so it now consists of the Seigneur, the chair of Chief Pleas, and 28 elected members, and only the elected members will have votes. That was the big change.


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