The following itinerary describes a range of sites which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight & ferry schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches and evening meal, indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal.
St Helier, Jersey - 4 nights
Day 1: Friday 27 May, Arrive Jersey
- Welcome Meeting
- Short Orientation Walk (time-permitting)
Participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer from the airport to the hotel in St Helier on the Island of Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands. Those taking alternative flights should meet the group at the Pomme d’Or Hotel.
St. Helier stands in St Aubin’s Bay on the southern side of the island and is named after Jersey’s first and most famous saint, a 6th century ascetic hermit who was martyred on the island in c. AD 555. The town is the capital of Jersey and has a population of about 28,000 – roughly one third of Jersey’s total population. While St Helier has a distinctive British atmosphere, the town retains numerous French influences as attested by the many streets that carry old French names and numerous shop fronts still displaying the names of their island founders. Depending on arrival times, a short orientation walk of the town will be conducted before time at leisure for dinner. (Overnight St Helier)
Day 2: Saturday 28 May, Jersey
- Introduction to Jersey’s Prehistoric Sites by archaeologist, Olga Finch
- La Hougue Bie Museum, including the Jersey Hoard
- La Pouquelaye de Faldouet Dolmen
- Mont Orgueil Castle, Grouville
- Evening Keynote Lecture by Rod McLoughlin & Welcome Dinner
Jersey became an island at the end of the second Ice Age as the land that once made it a part of France was flooded. Neolithic people from the Mediterranean started to move north through France up to the coast of Brittany and eventually settlements appeared around the coast of Jersey. These early settlers brought with them a megalithic tradition of erecting stone monuments, known as dolmens or menhirs. They also introduced ‘passage’ graves where a narrow entrance and passageway led to a burial chamber providing a focus for spiritual beliefs. This morning archaeologist Olga Finch joins us to explain what the various Neolithic sites on Jersey signified to the indigenous population.
We begin by visiting the 6000 year-old burial site at La Hougue Bie. This prehistoric mound and dolmen is one of Europe’s finest Neolithic passage graves. Particularly significant at La Hougue Bie is the placement of its entrance; it points directly east and during the Equinox sunlight penetrates the passageway illuminating the chamber deep in the mound. The discovery of the Equinox alignment signified how important this time of year was to this past farming community and how critical cycles of nature were to survival. Our visit will also include the opportunity to visit the Grouville Hoard, more commonly known as the ‘Jersey hoard’. This is a collection of over 10,000 Celtic and Roman coins that was found in 2012 by two metal detectorists. Work on the find is ongoing, but at this stage it is believed the hoard belonged to the Curiosolitae tribe from Brittany who came to Jersey fleeing the armies of Julius Caesar in approximately 50BC.
Next we visit the impressive dolmans at La Pouqelaye de Faldouet, or Faldouet Dolmen (c.4000-3250 BC). Faldouet consists of a 5 metre passage leading to a circular burial chamber covered by a 24-ton capstone. The main chamber is enclosed by smaller circular granite stones, which were transported from Mont Orgueil a few kilometres away.
From megalith structures we next turn our attention to a medieval site, Mont Orgueil Castle, where we sahll enjoy a talk and tour by Doug Ford, former Head of Learning at Jersey Heritage. This iconic landmark commands a prime position overlooking the picturesque harbour at Gorey and the Royal Bay of Grouville. Blue Badge Guide Sue Hardy, will guide our visit here explaining how construction of the castle was begun in the 13th century after King John lost control of Normandy and how for 600 years Mont Orgueil Castle protected the island against French invasion. Although Elizabeth Castle replaced Mont Orgueil as the island’s premier defence station when it was decided an inland setting was safer to protect, Mont Orgueil remained the island’s secondary defence until it was decommissioned in 1907.
This evening we will have a special evening lecture by senior Civil Servant Rod McLoughlin that introduces the unique way of life on the Channel Islands. This will be followed by a welcome dinner at the hotel, where we will enjoy a taste of Jersey’s marvellous local produce. (Overnight St Helier) BD
Day 3: Sunday 29 May, Jersey
- Birdlife of Jersey, environmental walk with naturalist Mike Stentiford
- Jersey War Tunnels, St Lawrence
- Private garden of Susan Lee
The favourable climate of the islands, warmed all year around by the Gulf Stream, ensures that the Channel Islands have dynamic ecosystems, and each provides a sanctuary for a rich variety of flora and fauna. Today we explore the diversity of Jersey’s natural heritage: we discover the island’s animal life on a wildlife walk and in captivity at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, formerly the Jersey Zoo, and we experience its flora in the Government House Gardens in St Helier.
This morning we take an environmental wildlife walk with the ‘Birdman of Jersey’, naturalist Mike Stentiford who will introduce you to some of Jersey’s abundant birdlife. Mike was awarded an MBE in 2000 in recognition of the work he has done in promoting and introducing Jersey’s natural heritage to visitors to the island.
The five years of German Occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II has had a significant impact on islander psyche. This, along with the material legacies left by the German Occupation, is now reflected in their tourism on the islands. During their occupation the Germans built hundreds of reinforced concrete bunkers and gun emplacements, anti-tank walls and tunnels – all constructed for an invasion that never came. Such was Hitler’s belief that England would try to regain the islands, he sent to the Channel Islands over 20 percent of the material allocated to the so-called ‘Atlantic Wall’ – a line of massive defence works which stretched from the Baltic to the Spanish frontier – to turn them into ‘impregnable fortresses’. Following Germany’s defeat, islanders began the job of decommissioning and destroying this legacy, but now they are recognized as important heritage sites and considerable energy and money has been expended on conserving and interpreting them.
The Jersey War Tunnels were originally constructed as an ammunition store and artillery barracks, but were converted into a casualty clearing station known as Hohlgangsanlage 8 (often abbreviated to Ho8) or the German Underground Hospital. A huge workforce was needed to build the 1km network of tunnels and this was supplied by the Organisation Todt. More than 5,000 slave labourers were brought over to Jersey – Russians, Poles, Frenchmen and Spaniards. Conditions were terrible, although Russian and Ukrainian POWs were treated the worst, with cases of malnutrition, death by exhaustion and disease among them becoming common. Today the site is a museum, which through interactive displays tells the story of the Occupation.
Many of the best Channel Islands gardens are found on Jersey and we will have the special opportunity to visit a private garden belonging to Susan Lee. Susan will show us her garden and we will have the opportunity to stroll through the grounds before returning to the hotels for an evening at leisure. (Overnight St Helier) B
Day 4: Monday 30 May, Jersey
- The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust with introduction by Lee McGeorge Durrell
- Coach tour of the island, including Batterie Lothringen at Noirmont, St Brelade’s Church and Fishermen’s Chapel, and Gronez Castle
- St Matthew’s Church, (Glass Church), Millbrook
This morning we visit the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, formerly the Jersey Zoo. Located in a 16th century manor house and surrounded by 32 acres of park and farm land, Jersey Zoo was the realisation of a dream by naturalist and author Gerald Durrell (1925-1995) to create a safe place for his animals. From the outset the Jersey Zoo was dedicated to breeding endangered species to ensure their survival. Many zoologists denounced Gerald’s early efforts at captive breeding but they are now universally acknowledged as an important weapon in the fight to save animals from extinction.
In 1963, Gerald turned his ‘zoo’ into a charitable trust, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which has established breeding groups of many species of endangered mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and has pioneered the return of their progeny to the wild. In Jersey, in the 50 plus years of the Zoo/Trust’s operation, Durrell’s has achieved many major breeding firsts. These include: Alaotran gentle lemurs, Rodrigues and Livingstone’s fruit bats, Rodrigues fodys, Madagascan flat-tailed tortoises, Round Island boas and Montserrat mountain chicken frogs. While most of us think of Gerald Durrell in connection with his best-selling book, My Family and Other Animals, which documented his earliest animal adventures and the antics of his family on the island of Corfu, Durrell’s greatest legacy has undoubtedly been in the field of animal conservation and the Trust he created on the island of Jersey.
Durrell met his second wife, Lee McGeorge Durrell, in 1977 when he lectured at Duke University where she was studying for a PhD in animal communication. They married in 1979. She co-authored a number of books with him, including The Amateur Naturalist, and became the Honorary Director of the Trust after his death. Lee will talk about her late husband and his life’s work.
Next, we head to the coast to Noirmont headland, the site of Batterie Lothringen, one of four naval artillery batteries installed by the Germans in the Channel Islands and bought by the States of Jersey after World War II as a permanent war memorial.
Our afternoon finishes with a visit to St Mathew’s Church at Millbrook. While the exterior of this church scarcely merits a second look, its interior is a work of such beauty that even the Germans took care not to damage it during their occupation of the island. Often referred to as the Glass Church, St Matthew’s has wonderful Art Deco glass fixtures and fittings designed in 1934 by René Lalique (1860 – 1945). The work was commissioned by Florence Boot, Lady Trent, Lalique’s neighbour in the South of France. Lady Trent’s principle residence, however, was in Millbrook on the island of Jersey and the work was commissioned to honour her late husband Jesse Boot, founder of Boot’s the Chemist. Opalescent panels, a magnificent altar cross, a glass font – perhaps the only one to be found anywhere – the Jersey lily motif, and Art Deco angels make the church one of the Island’s treasures and arguably some of the finest work Lalique ever produced. (Overnight St Helier) B
St Peter Port, Guernsey - 7 nights
Day 5: Tuesday 31 May, Jersey – Guernsey
- Private tour of the States Building and Royal Court in St Helier with Rod McLoughlin
- Leisure time in St Helier and option to visit the Jersey Museum
- Ferry to Guernsey
This morning we join Rod McLoughlin who will guide our private visit to the Royal Court and States Building. Collectively known as the States Building, this is where Jersey’s legal business has been enacted since the Middle Ages. The States Building houses the Royal Court, the States’ Chamber, the Bailiff’s Chambers, the Law Officers’ Department, the States’ Greffe and the Law Draftsman’s Office, the old library, the Law Library and three Committee Rooms. The Royal Court House has stood on its present site since the 12th century but it has been reconstructed on a number of occasions (1648, 1769 and 1879). The States’ Assembly, which dates from the 15th century, grew out of the Royal Court as the result of the Bailiff and Jurats consulting together with the Rectors and Connétables of the 12 parishes in times of emergency. The Assembly had no Chamber of its own and met in the Royal Court until the late 18th century when the States Buildings were added.
After some time at leisure in St Helier, when you may choose to visit the Jersey Museum, this afternoon we depart Jersey by ferry and cross to Guernsey where we will be based for the next seven days. From 933AD Guernsey was part of Normandy, France, forging a link between Britain and France that survives locally on the island in Norman Law, surnames and D’gernésiais, the local language. When in 1066 William of Normandy (‘William the Conqueror’) became King of England, Guernsey was linked to the English Crown. Guernsey remained an English possession after King Philippe Augustus of France took back the mainland of Normandy from King John in 1204. Guernsey prospered particularly from the 18th century when its port became free from British import duties. Wine and brandy were stockpiled here and taken to Britain in small quantities when prices were good: referred to as ‘Free Trade’, the practice legitimated what was in effect little more than smuggling. (Overnight St Peter Port) B
Day 6: Wednesday 1 June, Day Excursion to Sark
- Ferry to and from Sark
- Guest talk by Dr Richard Axton on Sark’s prehistoric finds and Sark in the 16th Century
- Guest talk by Jeremy La Trobe-Bateman, the Seneschal of Sark
- La Seigneurie Garden hosted by David Synnott and lobster lunch in the Garden
- Tour of island by horse and carriage
This morning we take a 45-minute ferry ride to Sark. The island is only three miles long and one and half wide, but boasts 40 miles of picturesque coastline. Although it has a population of just 600 people, Sark is a self-governing Crown Dependency and was the last European territory to abolish feudalism in 2008. The Head of Government is the Seigneur, an heredity position dating back to 1565 and currently held by John Michael Beaumont.
Sark consists of two main parts, Greater Sark and Little Sark to the south: they are connected by a narrow, razor-edged isthmus called La Coupée, which is 90 metres long and has a drop of 100 metres on each side. Two bays flank the isthmus: La Grand Grêve to the west and Convanche Bay, part of Baleine Bay, to the east.
We will be given a talk on two periods of Sark’s history – the Prehistoric era and the 16th century – by Dr Richard Axton. We will also be joined by Jeremy La Trobe-Bateman, the Seneschal of Sark (President of Chief Pleas and Chief Judge), who will explain the history and politics of the island. We will then visit the beautiful walled gardens of La Seigneurie and one of Sark’s most popular attractions. Sark is renowned for its local lobster, and we will partake of this delicacy in a special lunch in the beautiful surrounds of the gardens.
We will spend the remainder of time in Sark visiting sites on Greater Sark. As there are no cars on Sark, our tour of the island will be made the old-fashioned way – by horse and carriage. (Overnight St Peter Port) BL
Day 7: Thursday 2 June, Day Excursion to Alderney
- Boat to and from Alderney
- Tour of St Anne
- German Occupation ‘slave camps’
- Roman remains at ‘The Nunnery’
- Fort Albert
- Braye Harbour
Today we cross to Alderney, the third largest of the Channel Islands situated at the mouth of the Channel, eleven kilometres due west of Cap de la Hague in Normandy. The short stretch of sea that separates the island from continental Europe has a fast tidal flow known as ‘The Race’. The west side has equally dangerous tidal waters known as the ‘Swinge’. (The island experiences tides of up to 40 feet)
The island is a paradise for nature lovers with a combination of beautiful landscapes and abundant wildlife. The majority of the island’s population of 2400 live in St Anne, the only town on the island. A pretty little town of pastel-coloured Georgian houses located in the centre of the island and a five-minute drive from the airport, St Anne is also the name of the only parish and church on the island. Built by the Reverend John Le Messurier and consecrated in 1850, the church was desecrated during the Occupation: a machine gun was fixed into the tower, many gravestones destroyed and the bells went missing. They were later found in Cherbourg and re-fitted in 1953.
Despite being the closest to France, Alderney feels more remote than any of the other Channel Islands. Nevertheless, although tiny, Alderney has often been considered a granite stepping stone for would-be conquerors. During World War II the island was occupied by Germany and transformed into the westernmost edge of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall defences. We will be accompanied around the island by Dr Trevor Davenport, Chairman of the Alderney Society and author of many books including Festung Alderney. During our tour of the island we will visit the German Occupation ‘slave camps’ which consisted of four camps each holding 1500 Todt slave labourers, mainly young men from Eastern Europe. Fort Albert, built as part of a chain of defences on the island in 1847, became the most important fortification on the island during World War II with garrison accommodation for 2000 soldiers.
The history of the oldest fortification on Alderney known as ‘The Nunnery’ is obscure. Its name may have been a military sobriquet bestowed by troops quartered there in the 18th century but some believe it dates from Roman times and may have been part of the Saxon Shore, a military command of the late Roman Empire consisting of a series of fortifications on both sides of the English Channel.
Braye Harbour, home to the fishing fleet that brings in wonderful seafood, is a picturesque harbour protected by a 3000 feet break-water built by the British to protect the Navy in the 19th century. It is now maintained by Guernsey. Many ships over the centuries have floundered around Alderney not least because of the huge tidal swells. (Overnight St Peter Port) B
Day 8: Friday 3 June, Guernsey
- Vale Castle
- Guernsey’s Prehistoric Sites with archaeologist Tanya Walls: Le Dehus and the La Varde megalithic chambered tombs
- Castle Cornet
Like Jersey, Guernsey too was separated from mainland Europe by rising sea levels following the end of the Ice Age in around 8000BC/6,500BC. As on Jersey, Guernsey also has numerous traces of Neolithic habitation, including defensive earth works, menhirs and dolmens, burial chambers built above the ground: possibly the oldest manmade structure in Europe, Les Fouillages burial mound, was built around 4500BC. Evidence of settlements and farming also date back to this period, and traces of defence works dating back to 2000BC have been found.
Today we will visit the two largest tombs on the island, La Varde and Dehus with archaeologist Philip de Jersey. The largest megalithic structure in Guernsey, La Varde, stands on L’Ancresse Common near the 17th green of L’Ancresse golf course. The monument was discovered by accident under a drift of sand during military exercises in 1811. The grey granite structure measures ten metres long by four metres wide and has a capping stone pile of five metres long and one metre thick. The entrance faces almost directly east.
Dehus is the second largest Neolithic tomb in Guernsey. The structure is a prehistoric passage and chamber grave about ten metres in length with a narrow entrance, large main chamber, four small side chambers and a roof of huge capstones. Of particular interest is the carving found in 1916 on one of the capstones in the main chamber. It is of a bearded face, arms and hands, with what appears to be a strung bow with arrows and some designs of a possibly symbolic nature. Known as the guardian of the tomb, it is likely the stone was originally a menhir, or standing stone, that was re-used for the roof. The carving has a strong resemblance to similar objects found in Brittany and on the Iberian Peninsula providing further evidence of the trade and cultural links between these areas and Guernsey during the late Neolithic period.
Ironically, we seem to know nearly as much about Guernsey’s dolmens as we do about Vale Castle or the Chateau des Marais, as it was also known. Few early documents mention it. The earliest authentic document to note its existence dates from around 1570. What we do know is that the castle was garrisoned in the French Wars of 1793 to 1815 and was used as a signal station until 1830. It was declared an historic monument in 1890 and it was again garrisoned during World War I and fortified by the Germans during their occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II.
Today we also visit Castle Cornet, a small, fortified islet at the entrance to St Peter Port harbour, which was originally called the Houmet Cornet. There is evidence that Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements existed on Cornet Rock long before the Castle was built and its inhabitants traded between what is now England and France from early times.
The castle was built as an English stronghold to defend the town of St Peter Port and its anchorage during the 14th and 15th centuries when Guernsey was under a constant threat of attack from France: it was captured in 1338 and held for seven years. At one time the castle was also the residence of Guernsey’s English governors. During the English Civil War a royalist Governor and his garrison occupied the castle while the island of Guernsey sided with the parliamentarians. The two sides exchanged gunfire for years with the castle being supplied by sea from royalist Jersey. Castle Cornet was in fact the last royalist stronghold to fall, only being forced to surrender after supplies ran out following Jersey’s capitulation. Although the castle survived this barrage, a few years later in 1672 the upper parts of it were extensively damaged after lightning caused an explosion. The wife and mother-in-law of the then Governor, Charles Hatton were also killed in this explosion and the castle ceased to be used as a governor’s residence following this tragedy.
In 1947 King George VI presented Castle Cornet to the Islanders of Guernsey as a gift in token of their loyalty during the two World Wars. Since that time it has been maintained and developed as a visitor attraction by the States of Guernsey, which include four period gardens within the castle’s ancient walls designed with the help of horticultural expert Peter Thoday. (Overnight St Peter Port) B
Day 9: Saturday 4 June, Guernsey
- Morning at Leisure
- German Naval Signals Headquarters
- German Occupation Museum, Les Houards
- Fort Hommet
This morning is at leisure to enjoy the lively atmosphere of St Peter Port on a Saturday morning.
Our focus this afternoon is on the Second World War relics on Guernsey. We begin with a visit to the German Naval Signals Headquarters located in St Jacques, which was the station responsible for all radio communication into and between the Channel Islands. The Headquarters was operational until 9 May 1945 and used the Enigma machines that were de-coded at Bletchley Park. The German Occupation Museum has the finest collection of World War II relics in the Channel Islands. Two fortification sites also belong to the museum: a casemate gun Vazon and the Naval Observation Tower at Pleinmont headland. Known as an MP tower, this tower was built in 1942 and has a series of multi-storey Naval direction and range-finding positions (Marinepeilstanded und Messstellen). The navy used the top three levels for their batteries, and the two lower levels were taken over by the army for their two batteries of 22cm guns. The adjoining personnel shelter was built in 1943, probably for the Army crew. We finish our afternoon with a visit to Fort Hommet, a German coastal gun casement with defensive foundations that date back to the 17th century. (Overnight St Peter Port) B
Day 10: Sunday 5 June, Day Excursion to Herm
- Ferry to and from Herm
- Walking tour to Castle built by Prince Blücher, chapel, prison stocks, Shell Beach
The Island of Herm is a 20-minute ferry ride from St Peter Port. Like Sark, it has no cars, but unlike Sark, bicycles are also banned. While the locals, of whom there are 60, are allowed quad bikes and tractors, visitors tour the island on foot. However, as Herm is the smallest of the Channel Islands open to the public, this is not a daunting prospect. Today our walking tour explores the remains of some of the Neolithic chamber tombs that have been found on the island in a low-lying plain known as ‘the Common’. These have created much excitement in archaeological circles as they have been protected by sand, preserving traces of settlement and other activity that elsewhere would have been destroyed by more recent agricultural activity. In 2008 a three-year project entitled, ‘Island of the dead? The buried Neolithic landscape of Herm’ was begun. One of its aims is to explore whether the northern end of Herm may have been set apart for funerary activity as the density of the tombs suggest.
Herm differs from other Channel Islands in its more recent history too. Its beaches were too sandy for military purposes so it was spared the huge concrete blockhouses, anti-tank walls and observation towers that were to mushroom on the larger islands. Its governance also has interesting anomalies. Herm once belonged to the British Crown who let it to tenants. The first tenant was Gebhard Fürst Blücher von Wahlstatt (1889-1914), whose castle we will visit. Prince Blücher, an Anglophile Prussian married to an Englishwoman, introduced a colony of wallabies to the island. None now survive. Between 1920 and 1923, the noted Scottish writer and founder of the Scottish National Party, Compton Mackenzie (The Monarch of the Glen) became the island’s second tenant.
After World War II, the States of Guernsey bought Herm and it remains one of its dependencies. The States of Guernsey have also rented the island out to various tenants. The current tenant is the Starboard Settlement Trust who formed a Guernsey company, Herm Island Ltd, to manage the island. (Overnight St Peter Port) B
Day 11: Monday 6 June, Guernsey
- Hauteville House, home of Victor Hugo
- St Martin’s Church & the Grandmother of the Cemetery
- Candie Gardens and Guernsey Museum
- Farewell Dinner at a Local Restaurant
Our first visit this morning in St Peter Port is to Hauteville House, Victor Hugo’s home when he lived in self-imposed exile on Guernsey between 1856 and 1870 and again in 1872-73. Hugo arrived in Guernsey after he was evicted from Jersey, where he lived for three years, because of his loudly expressed Republican opinions. While the poet produced some of his best work on Guernsey, as a Frenchman who brought his mistress into exile, installing her in a house at 20 Hauteville St, while he lived with his wife in the nearby Hauteville House, Hugo did not really fit into Guernsey society. While living here, Hugo saw his most famous work, Les Misérables, published in 1862 and his novel Toilers Of The Sea, written during the author’s stay on the island is set in the ancient parish churchyard around St Sampsons Harbour.
Next we visit St Martin’s church and its pre-Christian statue known as the Gran’ Mere du Chimquiere or Grand Mother of the Cemetery. Many legends and stories surround Grand Mother of the Cemetery but no one really knows what she is or where she came from. What is known is that she seems to be the twin of another statue that stands in the grounds of the Castel church and both are around 4000 years old. The St Martin’s Gran’ Mere differs from the Castel statue in that it was re- carved with a cape and either head-dress or hair added. This was possibly done around 2000 years ago in Roman times as the garments carved into her resemble clothing worn in the Roman era.
Today’s program concludes with a visit to the Candie Gardens and Guernsey Museum, situated on the hill above St Peter Port and offering superb views across to Herm and Sark. The Guernsey Museum is situated with the gardens and is home to a collection outlining the long history of the island. There will be time to return to the hotel before we head out to a local restaurant to share a farewell evening meal. (Overnight St Peter Port) BD
Day 12: Tuesday 7 June, Depart Guernsey
- Airport transfer for participants departing on the ASA ‘designated’ flight
Our tour concludes in St Peter Port today. After breakfast, group members taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight will be transferred to Guernsey Airport. Alternatively you may wish to extend your stay in the Channel Islands. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B