5 things you never knew about the Channel Island of Jersey

As Britain and France trade threats over fishing…

United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Jersey, St. Aubin’s Harbour
United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Jersey, St. Aubin’s Harbour

The Channel Island of Jersey doesn’t enter the news cycle that often, and, when it does, it probably doesn’t want to co-star with the word ‘gunboat’.

A post-Brexit fishing dispute has led to heightened rhetoric in both Paris and London with France threatening to cut off the island’s power, and Britain sending two Royal Navy vessels to “monitor the situation”.

Here’s a few things you probably never knew about Europe’s latest trouble-spot…

1. They still use pound notes

States of Jersey Currency – money – one pound note Etats De Jersey Une Livre Queen Elizabeth 2

Yep, that’s ‘pound’ in the singular. Jersey’s currency is regular British pound sterling, but they produce their own legal tender that includes one pound notes as well as coins. Complete with a different picture of the Queen, the notes are not generally accepted on the mainland.

2. Residents are nicknamed ‘crapauds’

The meaning is not quite as bad as you may fear… in French ‘crapaud’ means toad.

Once a derogatory French epithet for the British citizens geographically closest to France, Jersey residents decided to embrace the name, and a large bronze statue of a toad now sits on a busy thoroughfare in St Helier. Jersey does maintain a population of real toads – the only Channel Island to do so.

3. The island shrinks twice a day

St.Aubun, Isle of Jersey, Channel Islands

Jersey isn’t that big to begin with (roughly nine miles by five), and is nearly half the size at high tide compared to low. The island has some of the largest tidal ranges anywhere on Earth, turning frothing harbours into lunar-looking wastelands in the space of a single afternoon. The rapid drainage serves up scintillating rockpools, but also means exploring them should only be attempted with a guide.

4. Jersey was occupied by the Nazis

World War Two – British Empire – Occupied Territories – Jersey – 1941

It is not true to say the British Isles never suffered a Nazi invasion. German forces took the island of Jersey in July 1940, banning radios, adopting a continental time zone, and ordering all residents to drive on the other side of the road. The occupation was finally lifted on 9 May 1945 – long after the liberation of France – and is still celebrated with an annual bank holiday.

5. Yes, Jersey gave us the knitted jersey

Cable knit woollen Jersey sweater jumper

If there’s one thing Jersey is famous for, it’s wool. Knitting was once so popular that authorities had to ban men from doing it during fishing season in order to protect the food supply, and knitted jumpers became synonymous with the island name during the 19th century.  Ironically, the word is now most used for sports jerseys – usually made from cotton or polyester.

The island also lent its name to the US state of New Jersey – initially governed by Jersey-born statesman and arch royalist George Carteret.

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