This is Guernsey

Registered: 18th February 1963
Duration: 24 minutes
Feet: 2160 feet
Board of Trade Certificate number: ​​​​​BR/E28209
Production Company: ​​​​Harold Baim Film Productions (London) Limited

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This is the first of the 'This Is' travel series. A travel film about the second largest of the Channel Islands situated between England and France. A fascinating tour of one of the islands which were the only British territories to be occupied by the Germans during the Second World War.

Title and Credits:

Introduced by : David Gell
Photographed in  Eastmancolor by: Alan Pudney
Research : Frank Carey
Music: De Wolfe
Recordist: Cyril Brown
Editor : Peter Vincent
Produced by: Harold Baim
Directed by: Paul Weld Dixon


Victor Hugo once described the Channel Islands as "fragments of Europe dropped by France and picked up by England". His words, though poetical, were not, of course, accurate.

The Channel Islands extend over an area of some 3000m² and are situated off the southern coast of England and the coast of Normandy in France.

By far the loveliest of them all is the place where the sweater known as the Guernsey is made, with its traditional design and enormous world demand.

Guernsey is 120 miles from Southampton, 80 from Weymouth and 30 from France. And to this treasured island, come people in their thousands in the well appointed ships which transport the visitors and their automobiles.

Those who cannot get there quickly enough do the journey from England in just over an hour.

Street names are in English and in French, a legacy from long ago, the islands link with Normandy. And a legacy from the time of the Roman conquest of Britain is the name Sarnia.

The ancient fortress of Castle Cornet stands at the entrance of the St Peter Port harbour. Founded early in the 13th century, the castle did service until 1945, when, with the remainder of the Channel Islands, it was surrendered to the British forces by the defeated troops of Germany. Today, it's a picturesque and romantic link with the past.

On a hillside overlooking the harbour stands the quaint and charming capital of Guernsey, St Peter Port. The domestic affairs of the island are completely self-governed by an island parliament with its own independent traditions. And high up in the town of St Peter Port stands the Royal Court, which also houses the parliament.

When the court is in session, it's really something to be seen. Elected by the states, the terms used for their parliament, are 12 jurats who are now seen entering.

The Lord's Prayer is said in French.

A lawyer by profession, the Bailiff, whose high position makes him the first citizen, is appointed by the Crown. He combines, so to speak, the duties of Prime Minister, speaker of the House and Lord Chief Justice.

The office of parish constable dates back to 1570. Though the English language is generally spoken, and British money used, Guernsey maintains her independence by keeping alive her own language and issuing her own currency.

An island of contrast, where the new and the old stand side by side to cast a web of enchantment over all who come here. So accessible are the four corners of this jewel of the English Channel, the people constantly move around it.

Each day there is a new adventure to be undertaken. Each hour there's something new to see. And all the time, breathtaking scenery is a delight to the eye. The coastline is indented with beaches of golden sands and others of smooth pebbles. Small bays and coves abound. One can find fun or tranquillity for the asking, and as one's mood dictates.

And for the more energetic, sport of every kind is on hand: swimming in the open-air pool; horse riding for those who have a hankering for boots and saddle; Golf at the Royal Guernsey Golf Club played against the background of some of the loveliest scenery on the island, on a course bounded by beautiful bays. And inevitably boules on the greenest of greens.

Walking by the sea is everyone's cup of tea, and it's a constant delight to the visitor to find that he has to go only a few miles to experience changes of scenery, which in bigger countries would only be possible after travelling for hundreds of miles.

Of the ten parishes, nine have part of their boundaries along the coast, and it's quite possible to explore every part of Guernsey on foot.

But moving around is not always confined to cars and buses. There are the sister islands of Jethou, Herm and Sark to visit, and boats regularly run to these delightful havens. The beautiful island of Herm is three miles off the coast of Guernsey.

Herm is truly the island of dreams. Particularly for those who dream of their own island.

Jethou is different, half a mile in diameter and once known as a smuggler's island. There's an air of strangeness about it.

The motor car is taboo on Sark, where only these one horsepower vehicles are permitted. Here stands the smallest prison in the world, where the prisoner is allowed to sit in the sun by day and go home each night.

Sark is an island of beautiful charm, 50 minutes across the sea from Guernsey. So back to St Peter Port, where from Beaumont Point there's a magnificent panoramic view of the harbour.

A commemorating plaque and statues of Queen Victoria and of Prince Albert stand to mark their visit of so long ago.

The main shopping street in Guernsey's capital are quaint and narrow, but the merchandise is that of the large cities of the world.

Wherever you look, there's something of interest. Whether at the boats in the harbour, or Elizabeth College, the island's principal seat of learning.

Then there's the inner man to consider. The liquid aspect is well taken care of in modern hostelries. The solid aspects in restaurants whose cuisine can vie with the best in the world.

Prolific in its own resources, Guernsey's fertile fields can provide many things for the gourmet's table without going outside the island.

As nuts are to Brazil and roast beef is to England, so are tomatoes to Guernsey.

It's estimated that one third of the adult population is employed directly or indirectly, with the production and export of the tomato crop. There are some 3000 owners of glass houses who grow tomatoes in addition to other crops, and in one year, 9.5 million packages of 12lbs each, almost 50,000 tons, were exported. Those who may be interested would no doubt like to know that if each package were laid end to end, the line would reach from Guernsey to Cairo. If somebody asks you, now you know. A tremendous part of the island's economy, the product is so good, demand exceeds supply.

The countryside is lush, with innumerable green and leafy lanes winding between tiny hamlets, beckoning you to explore them. A feature of the scenery are the water lanes. Running to the shore, the stream in the centre runs between banks of luxuriant ferns.

The country lanes were not planned for the motor car, and sometimes turning can be a tricky operation. But it can all be done by mirrors.

Milk from Guernsey cattle is milk as it should be. The cream line is a dream line of rare quality. Today found in all parts of the world, Guernsey cattle is renowned. Docile and adaptable to all climates, the authorities jealously preserve the characteristics of the breed: the yellow of the skin and the rich gold colour in the milk.

There's an accent on flowers rarely found and, in Saumarez Park, they bloom in profusion. Here it's horticulture in the grand manner.

So temperate is the climate, that palm trees are to be found, invoking an almost South Sea Island aspect.

One of the most colourful memories is of the gardens of homes like this one. Sometimes riots of blooms like this. And in the gardens of cottages. Greenhouses are everywhere, and under glass, growers cultivate for export, flowers of every kind and colour.

In the Candie Gardens stands a monument to Victor Hugo, who lived in Guernsey for 15 years. He lived here in exile. To a friend he wrote; 'I no longer have a country", and in Guernsey he found what he wanted.

In Hauteville, his home is preserved as a living memory to the great man. Here in his study, overlooking the harbour, is the desk at which he wrote "Toilers of the Sea", and many others.

His dining room; the table laid with China given to him by the King of France. The walls; decorated with tiles of delftware. A house full of priceless treasures and of treasured memories.

Artist as well as author, the surround of this skylight was decorated by Victor Hugo himself. Here in the Garibaldi Room is the table and chairs, where he would sit and read to his wife and child in the quiet evenings of a bygone century. Perhaps he read to them from his "Les Misérables".

But now the hand that penned so many stories is still. Victor Hugo is with us no more. But his name lives on amongst the great men of literature.

Decorated inside and out with shells and broken China, the smallest church in the world has room inside for a priest and a congregation of two.

In St Peter Port, the town church, or more correctly the Church of Saint Peter, has some magnificent stained-glass windows.

Every year Saumarez Park is the scene of The Carnival of Flowers, a rollicking, boisterous round of fun highlighted by a parade of floats decorated with thousands upon thousands of locally grown blooms.

The carnival draws thousands of people to its staging, and in the brilliant sunshine, against skies of the deepest blue, homage is paid to nature's most colourful contribution to life.

Guernsey, most beautiful of the Channel Islands, nestles in the dazzling Bay of Normandy. Her sheltered coves, sandy bays and clear blue skies call long after you've said goodbye.

[The End]

All music should be cleared with 

De Wolfe Music 
Queen’s House 
180-182 Tottenham Court Road