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The Ecrehous from the air

The Minquiers and Ecréhous are two groups of islands and rocks forming part of the Bailiwick of Jersey, Channel Islands. Many are submerged at high tide. Most of the islands are uninhabitable, or contain only fishermen's huts.

Contents

Les Minquiers

Les Minquiers (the Minquiers) are situated 9 miles south of Jersey, and are administratively part of the Parish of Grouville. They are the southernmost land territory in the British Islands.

The most significant islands in this group are:

  • Maîtresse Île
  • Les Maisons;

others include :

  • Le Niêsant
  • Les Faucheurs
  • La Haute Grune.

The few houses (or huts) on Les Minquiers mostly belong to Jersey families. One of the houses belongs to the current Bailiff of Jersey, Sir Philip Bailhache.

Les Écréhous

Les Écréhous (the Ecréhous) are situated 6 miles north-east of Jersey (8 miles from France), and are administratively part of the Parish of St. Martin.

The most significant islands in this group are:

  • Maîtr'Île
  • La Marmotchiéthe (La Marmotière in gallicized form)
  • Lé Bliantch'Île (La Blanche Île in gallicized form);

others include:

  • Les D'mies
  • La Grand' Naithe
  • L'Êtchièrviéthe
  • Lé Fou
  • La Froutchie.

The name Ecréhous is Norse in origin. Hou, the toponym found also in Jethou, Lihou, Brecqhou, Burhou and other islets, derives from holm meaning island. The first part of the name appears to be traced back to a Norse word sker meaning reef. The Ecréhous are actually, geologically, part of the same island group as Les Dirouilles (west) and Les Pierres de Lecq (the Paternosters) (further west).

History

The islets, along with the other Channel Islands and the Cotentin Peninsula, were annexed to the Duchy of Normandy in 933. After William, Duke of Normandy conquered England in 1066 the islands remained united to the Duchy until the conquest of mainland Normandy in 1204 by Philip Augustus of France. In 1259 Henry III did homage to the French king for the Channel Islands. While Edward III in the 1360 Treaty of Brétigny waived his claims to the crown of France and to Normandy, he reserved various territories to England.

The Minquiers and Ecréhous were used by smugglers.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries there were several occasions on which nominal control was displayed - eg flags and buoys, and there were several occasions on which the British government indicated to the French government that it wished to settle the matter.

In 1950 Britain and France went to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for friendly discussions to decide to which country the Minquiers and Ecréhous belonged. The French fished in the waters, but Jersey exercised various administrative rights. Certain maps showed the Ecréhous islands as not being part of Jersey. The ICJ considered the historical evidence, and in its Judgment of 17 November 1953 awarded the islands to Jersey.

Ecréhous

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The Ecrehous from the air (again)

Though they are only inhabited sporadically by holidaymakers and fishermen, in the past there have been more permanent residents on the islands due to more abundant vegetation. There exist ruins from an old chapel or abbey on La Maître Ile (Maîtr'Île).

Two eccentrics who lived on the Ecréhous for a long time proclaimed themselves to be Le Roi des Ecréhous (The king of the Ecréhous) and claimed that sovereignty over the islands belonged to them. Philippe Pinel lived on Bliantch'Île from 1848 to 1898 and exchanged gifts with Queen Victoria. In the 1960s and 1970s Alphonse Le Gastelois found refuge in the islands from unfounded public suspicion of being the Beast of Jersey (a notorious sexual attacker of children who was later arrested, thus clearing Le Gastelois of suspicion).

In 1993 and again in 1994, French 'invaders' from Normandy landed on the Ecrehous and raised Norman flags. This was done partly in protest against Channel Island fishing regulations and partly because they wanted the Ecréhous to be recognised as part of France. The 1994 'invasion' was monitored closely by States and honorary police from Jersey, and the Union Jack that had been pulled down in 1993 was guarded by policemen. In the end, after only minor trouble being caused, the French had lunch on the islands before going back home. A priest who was part of the expedition said mass on the islands for the first time since the ruined abbey was in use (some hundreds of years). He ingeniously created an outline of a church and altar using vraic he collected from the sea.

Minquiers

In 1998 there was an 'invasion' of the Minquiers by some French on behalf of the 'King of Patagonia' in 'retaliation' for the British occupation of the Falkland Islands. The British flag was restored the next day.

References

External links

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