Leading article: Precious stone

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The idea of the island is especially resonant in this part of the world. Like Shakespeare's John of Gaunt, we tend to feel our spirits moved by the thought of precious stones set in silver seas and fortresses built by nature for herself.

So we are glad that the tiny Herm island in the Channel – with its single shop, hotel and lonely pub – has been saved from the threat of development. Herm's leaseholders, Adrian and Penny Wood Heyworth, have turned down a hefty offer from a luxury hotel chain and instead sold for considerably less to John and Julia Singer, two residents of nearby Guernsey. The Singers, who met and fell in love on Herm 14 years' ago, have pledged to keep the island as unspoilt and welcoming to all visitors as possible.

It is good to know that, even in these turbulent days, there are some things that one cannot put a price on. And comforting to know too that there remains part of the British realm in which bicycles are considered a new-fangled invention.