Bygone Guernsey and its Coins

Bill Exley

View 1/29.. A busy Market Day in St. Peter Port around the late 1890's or early 1900's, one of my favourite scenes, looking up the Market Steps to Market Square or Place. Note the elegant Victorian attire of the crowd with most of the chatting couples, conversing in the local Guernsey Patois , English or even pure French. They are always proud to maintain using their 'Guernsey Patois', as so the Welsh in using their own unique dialect.

In the mens' pockets you would have found a mix of English, French, Guernsey or Jersey coins. Guernsey coins were first struck in 1830 and made up of 8 Doubles . to our old Penny. 4, 2 and even a tiny 1 double coin - Half a Farthing.! The small 1 Double was minted 12 tmes between the years 1830 to 1938, so it must have been required..

Jersey also had their own seperate coinage from 1841, the currency believe it or not, was 13 Pennies to the Shilling. It had '1/13th of a Shilling' inscribed, so a Halfpenny, 1/26th, and a Farthing for one year only, at 1/52nd. , It is now a very rare coin to find, (valued at £100) so minted in 1841 only, then dropped.

In 1877 Jersey 'demonitised' their currency to twelve pence to the Shilling, so 1/12th, 1/24th, and for One year only, a Farthing, inscribed 1/48th. I had a complete Jersey Collection which has now returmed home, (Mar 1988) and rests in the Library of Philip Malet de Carteret, St Ouen's Manor, Jersey. This 900 yr old Manor has never been bought or sold. - Both Islands have had their own ornate One Pound notes up to this day.

Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are part of the U.K, but independant, with their own Tax and Judicary Laws. Like applying the Birch, in the prescence of a Doctor, within St Peter Port Prison, but later stopped around the 1960's. They even gave it to repeat offenders (Drinking louts) after Deportation from Jersey to Guernsey, en-route home to the U.K.

We also had a quaint Cycle Tax of apprx 10p per year, (2/6d) and you had a changing coloured disc in it's own mounted bracket on the bike. A Car Road Tax is, or was, adjusted, to it's C.C rating for charges due, making it fairer all round.

We had to comply with a 'Chicken' or 'Poulage Tax' of Seven and sixpence (apprx 35p) and equiv. to the price of 2 chickens and only payable, in person, to the Royal Court office on behalf of the Queen. This tax comes under a centuries old Feudal Dues tax system still existant today. These taxes do not apply to every property, it is a hit and miss, as to the Site or Plot history, and previous owners or farmers.

To the left of the Market Square, view 1/29 above, are the Market Halls, or States Arcade, built in 1822 with huge lofty seperate areas. They sold Flowers, on massive tiered shelves, I can still remember the fragrances now, Fruit and Vegatables, Meats then the Fish Market, (ref view 11/29) This area exits out into Fountain St and The Bordage to mt title Mill St. On the right of Market Squars are the French Halles with the Assembly Rooms above, later to become the home of the Guilles-Alles Library above. An excellent source for reference and records.

I think now (16/02/2018) it has all been changed into mini commercial units catering for locals and the many Island Visitors. In my title scene of Guernsey life, notice on the right the Horse drawn Char-â-Bancs (Char-a-Bang). used to take people home. I can still remember that way back in the the late 1940's and early 1950's, there would be lines of six to ten, waiting at the White Rock berth to transfer passengers, locals and Visitors, from the Mailboats arriving daily from the U.K. after a night crossing.

The Traveller to Guernsey had a choice (during the 1940's to the 1960's) of using the midnight departure time from Southampton, or a more enjoyable daytime crossing via Weymouth. Guernsey is a tiny Island, lying about 90 miles S.W. of Lands End, and about 30 sq. miles, it's coastal road is 24 miles long, in perspective, it would fit into the Isle of Wight 4 times. (148 Sq miles)

Later, we knew a 'Chara-Bang' as an excursion, day out or trip to the coast. Ships brought in Mail, (hence Mailboats), Newspapers and Cargo from England including White Goods, new Cars and other heavy cargo. Mail and passengers are now served by regular daily flights from the U.K. Here follows a list of some Ships that came to the island..

These were the Earl of Chesterfield 1794, Dasher 1827, Ibex 1891, Alberta 1900, Sarnia (1) 1910, torpedoed 1918, St. Julien 1925, Isle of Guernsey and Isle of Jersey 1930, Isle of Sark 1932, Brittany 1933, St.Patrick , St. David, Falaise all 1947, Caesarea 1960, Sarnia (2) 1961, Earl of Granville 1973. Havelet 1977. // A 'sample' from records researched as at 17th Oct 2018

Here is a Montage of a 'Bygone Guernsey' from views saved for 65 years. links to my book, Guernsey Coinage in 1968, or to 1st Guernsey Sea Scouts 1946 to 1953 a Thesis by Bill Hill / Guernsey / 2018... or some 'Trivia' then step into my Misc and Mash.


View 2/29.. A unique scene capturing the actual time the town of St Peter Port was created, from land down below, being Hacked from Granite Cliffs. The sheer Tenacity and Will Power to do the job, with no modern machinery.

View 3/29.. High Street, Guensey, a charming scene of 18th century High Street showng houses which were chiefly those of Gentry, but by the early 19th century adaptations to them began. The Town Church of St Peter Port forms a pleasant background of liveliness and interest. There has been a Le Riche shop to our right for many, many years selling fine wines, spirits and groceries, they even provided a 'Home - Delivery' service around the Island in the 1960's, and probably well before..
View 4/29.. The Quay, St Peter Port, where you would arrive coming out from my view below. Fhe tallest building, in shadow on the left, is, or was, The Albion Hotel, with the quaint tiny pub, The Cosy Corner on the ground floor. The rear being the siart of High Street, then the Arcade, Smith Street, Le Pollet and all the shops.
View 5/29.. Cow Lane, or Rue des Vaches, leading through the archway to The Quay (previous view) and Old Harbour, a charming sketch by a Mrs Montgomery in 1831. The cobbled view point is taken from the bottom of Hgh Street, with the entrance to the Town Church a few yards to our right. To the left has been a well known shop, Le Lievres, selling Fine China and delicate Glass wares for many years, it may have been there in 1831, but I have no supporting records.

View 6/29.. A street scene of old Guernsey, taken from the windows of Marshall's Hotel, St Pierre, Guernsey, to the right ,with shoppers, is the steep slope of Smith Street . It is en fête for a royal occasion, with festoons cross Smih Street, we see a few smart troops marching.
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  • View 8/29.. above
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View 11/29.. Market Place, St Pierre, Guernsey. drawn in 1831 (artist unknown) a fine study of the Market taken from the middle entrance in Fountain Street, looking through the vaulted crossway with it's fan windows high up, to Clifton Steps in the background. At this time, the Fish and Meat Markets would be on the left side and the vegitable market on the right. In the 1950's and before, to the far right masses of flowers were on sale, this then led to wide stone steps leading down to a lower level and exit.
View 12/29.. above - A similar view to my Title header but titled Market Place / from an early Moss Print
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Links to my book, Guernsey Coinage (Adope reader Acrobat File) in 1968, 50 years aniv / or 1st Guernsey Sea Scouts 1946 to 1953, by Bill Hill , Guernsey (Dec - 2018)

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Last revision - 21st Feb. 2021. - by Bill Exley