The Island of Sark – the jewel in the crown of the Channel Islands
Sark is the second smallest of the islands and measures just three miles long by one and a half wide. Although it might appear to be just a tiny spec on the map, Sark is actually a myriad of unique aspects. The island is a member of the British Isles, but not the United Kingdom and it is a British crown dependency but with French names. Natural beauty and almost 500 years of self-government have created something that is, first and foremost, unique and individual.
The islands became part of the Duchy of Normandy in 933AD and records reveal some Channel Island names in the Norman invasion of England in 1066. Islanders still joke that it is one of their oldest possessions, but the British monarch continues to hold the title of the Duke of Normandy in the islands, a living legacy of William the Conqueror.
When King John lost Normandy in 1204, Sark suddenly found itself in the front line against France. The island may have made the momentous decision to side with the English Crown but, until three generations ago, English was a minority language in Sark. Variations of Norman French were still the lingua franca even during the inter war years of the twentieth century and Sark’s own tongue – Serquiaise – was only recently committed to the page. Like most regional languages, it was used and shaped by generations that could neither read nor write. In an age of rudimentary education and without mass communication, the people of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Herm and Sark all spoke quite different forms of the language. If that was not enough, local variations of Serquiaise were spoken within the island itself, with residents of Little Sark easily identifying with the residents of the main island, whenever they needed to communicate. Even French speakers struggle with islanders’ illogical pronunciation of place names, whilst UK visitors savour their blend of traditional Britishness mixed with the steadfast independence of a Norman fisherman. A true Sarkee is neither English nor French, but fiercely proud of his little island and delighted to welcome everyone to what Victor Hugo described as:
“…that corner of the Norman land where live the noble people of the sea, the petit isle de Sercq”.
Sark does not allow motor cars, which preserves the island’s beauty and its fresh clean sea air. The best way to get around on Sark is by bicycle, or for the less energetic – horse and carriage. These two modes of transport are a great way to see the Island and learn of its history and heritage.
All of this helps to make Sark an essential part of any holiday in the Channel Islands.
- A far cry from the standard package destination, Sark is a charming blend of tranquility, rustic beauty and civilised living.
- The island offers something intriguingly different yet reassuringly familiar.
- Beaches, cliff paths and winding country lanes are the stuff of long forgotten family holidays, whilst fine dining and local shopping lend a touch of quirky sophistication to any visit.
- British & French influences merge into one whilst the hustle, bustle & stress of the modern world seem a million miles from the gentle sound of horses hooves against the ever present sound of ocean waves on a secluded shoreline.
- Sark, the natural choice – clean air, great walks and safe beaches. Sark offers a natural paradise for everyone to enjoy at their own pace.
- Sark is steeped in natural history. Our long-standing relationship with the ocean has instilled a spirit of independence and the determination – even stubbornness – to hold on to the Sark that we love.
- Life here has evolved as an uncommon union of past, present and future. Personality and character are valued above all else.
- In short, Sark is a place where you are truly free to be yourself. It is the perfect destination to relax, refresh and de-stress.
- You can truly feel at one with nature, and find yourself on Sark.