Jersey Royalist Statesman George Carteret helped King Charles II during his exile in New Netherlands. For all his help, Charles gave Carteret New Netherlands and promptly renamed it New Jersey, its name still to this day. But today, we’re focused on the original. An island that would fit into New Jersey 189 times. A nation 8,000 years old. The largest of the Channel Islands, all of which were the only British Isles occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. A favourite holiday destination of Karl Marx (seriously). Lillie Langtry was born here, as well as the most recent incarnation of Superman, Henry Cavill. The maximum speed limit anywhere is 40 miles-per-hour. It has more sunshine than anywhere else in the British Isles. Only half the population was born here, with 34% of them living in the capital city St. Helier. And many of the older houses have a witch’s seat made of stone that jut out from the gables, because the original islanders believed that providing a seat for passing witches to rest on, would prevent them from falling foul of evil spirits. Oh yes, we’re in the witch fearing paradise of Jersey.
The Bailiwick of Jersey (yes, that is its full real name) is an island but not a country, a part of the UK or Great Britain, but is a British Crown Dependency, not subject to the British government or its rules, regulations and taxes. It is a possession of the British Crown, and is not in the EU but maintains a special relationship with it. It is a self-governing parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy, with its own financial, legal and judicial systems. Although not seeking independence, they are prepared to if ‘it’s in the best interests of the islanders’. It’s only 14 miles away from Normandy, in France, and 100 miles away from mainland Britain. Its population is nearly 98,000 crammed into a tiny 46 square miles. It has no motto, nobody knows for sure where the name comes from (there are many theories), and the origins of the flag are very murky. But we do know the crown was added to make it unique.
They are a happy sort of people, famous for their folk music, seafood and potatoes. A unique culture, a mix of French and British influence. Tea is drunk and they drive on the left, but all street signs are in French. The architecture too is sublime and the rolling green rugged landscape is magnificent. They’re also famed for their ridiculously oversized cabbages, which can grow up to, and I’m not kidding, 10 feet tall.
Wildlife and nature are celebrated in the Val De La Mare Arboretum and the Durrell Wildlife Park. The Jersey Battle of Flowers is really awesome, a wonderfully electric sight, really worth looking up. Architecture is honoured in towns built of supreme classic grace, with highlights such as the States Building in St. Helier, a delightful shade of pink. And we have empyrean beauty in the picture postcard scenery that the island is awash with. Bonne Nuit Bay is a prime example. It’s hard to find a better way to sum up Jersey in a photo.
I think the only thing that can top it is Mont Orgueil and Gorey Harbour. It’s pure Jersey. Everything you’d expect of it. It’s tranquil and drenched in history. It’s a landscape isangelous and oneiric. It’s a fugacious moment suspended in a time of peaceful equilibrium.
Jersey is a place I’ve never been to, but admire greatly. It’s almost perfect.
Jersey. The bailiwick of mirable sights, giant cabbages and Superman.
Images: 1) The flag of Jersey (credit: wikimedia.org), 2) Mont Orgueil and Gorey Harbour (credit: wikimedia.org), 3) Bonne Nuit Bay (credit: wikimedia.org)
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