|History of Jersey
Jersey was annexed to the Duchy of Normandy by William Longsword, Duke of Normandy in 933. His heir the Conqueror, conquered England in 1066, which led to the Duchy of Normandy and the kingdom of England being governed under one monarch. King John lost all his territories in mainland Normandy in 1204 to the King of France, but retained possession of Jersey, along with Guernsey and the other Channel Islands.
Jersey was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1 May, 1940, and was held until 9 May, 1945, the end of World War II.
Main article: Politics of Jersey
Jersey's legislature is the States of Jersey. It includes 53 elected members - 12 senators (elected for 6-year terms), 12 constables (heads of parishes elected for 3-year terms), 29 deputies (elected for 3-year terms); the Bailiff and the Deputy Bailiff (appointed to preside over the assembly and having a casting vote in favour of the status quo when presiding); and 3 non-voting members - the Dean of Jersey, the Attorney General, and the Solicitor General all appointed by the Crown. Government departments are run by committees of the States. The civil head of the Island is the Bailiff. No political parties currently have representation in the States.
The legal system is based on Norman customary law (including the Clameur de Haro), statute and English law; justice is administered by the Royal Court.
Elizabeth II's traditional title as head of state is that of Duke of Normandy, but she does not hold that title formally. She reigns by her position as Queen over a crown dependency.
Main article: Geography of Jersey
Jersey is a 43 sq. mi. (112 km²) island in the English Channel, approximately 12 mi. from the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy, France. It is the largest and southernmost of Channel Islands.
The climate is temperate with mild winters and cool summers. The terrain consists of gently rolling plain with low, rugged hills along north coast.
Politically, Jersey is divided into 12 parishes, mostly named after saints (e.g. the capital, St. Helier). The parishes are further divided into vingtaines (or cueilletes in St. Ouen), divisions which are archaic and nowadays mostly used for purposes of local administration and electoral constituency.
Main article: Economy of Jersey
Satellite view of Jersey
Jersey's economy is based on financial services, tourism, internet trade and agriculture. There is no free movement of people between the United Kingdom or other countries of the European Union and Jersey. Because VAT is not present on the island, luxury goods are often cheaper than in the UK. This lack of VAT has led to the growth of the 'fulfillment' industry, whereby low-value luxury items, such as videos, lingerie and contact lenses are exported to the UK, evading VAT on arrival and thus undercutting UK prices on the same products. Duty free goods are still available for purchase on travel to and from the island.
Jersey issues its own Jersey banknotes and coins which circulate with UK coinage, Bank of England notes, Scottish notes and Guernsey currency within the island.
Designs on the reverse of Jersey coins:
- 1p Le Hocq Tower (coastal defence)
- 2p L'Hermitage, site where Saint Helier lived
- 5p Seymour Tower (offshore defence)
- 10p La Pouquelaye de Faldouet (dolmen)
- 20p La Corbière lighthouse
- 50p Grosnez Castle (ruins)
Pound coins are issued, but are much less widely used than pound notes. Designs on the reverse of Jersey pound coins include series of crests of the 12 parishes, and historic Jersey-built ships. The motto round the milled edge of Jersey pound coins is: Insula Caesarea ("island of Jersey" in Latin). Two pound coins are issued also, but in very small quantities.
Main article: Demographics of Jersey
30% of the population is concentrated in Saint Helier. Of the roughly 89,000 people in Jersey, around two fifths are of Jersey/Norman descent and two fifths of British descent. The largest minority groups in the island are Portuguese, Irish and Polish. The French community is also always present.
Jersey, like most places in the western world, has an ageing population. Reasons for this change particular to Jersey are the emigration of young people seeking opportunities the island cannot provide and the immigration of older people seeking to retire here.
Main article: Culture of Jersey
Jèrriais, the island's Norman language, is spoken by a minority of the population, although it was the majority language in the 19th century. Though there are efforts to revive the language in schools, it is still spoken mostly by older people (most commonly in the country parishes, although the capital has the highest number of declared Jèrriais speakers). The dialect of Jèrriais spoken in St. Ouen is often considered somewhat different to that of the rest of the island. Many place names are in Jèrriais, and French and English place names are also to be found. Anglicisation of the toponymy increased apace with the migration of English people into the island.
Some Neolithic carvings are the earliest works of artistic character to be found in Jersey. Only fragmentary wall-paintings remain from the rich mediaeval artistic heritage, after the wholesale iconoclasm of the Calvinist reformation of the 16th century.
Printing only arrived in Jersey in the 1780s, but the island supported a multitude of regular publications in French (and Jèrriais) and English throughout the 19th century, in which poetry, most usually topical and satirical, flourished.
John Everett Millais, Elinor Glyn and Wace are among Jersey's artistic figures. Lillie Langtry, the Jersey Lily, is the island's most widely recognised cultural icon. The famous French writer, Victor Hugo, lived in exile in Jersey 1852-1855.
The island's patron saint is Saint Helier.
Food and drink
Seafood has traditionally been important to the cuisine of Jersey: mussels (called moules locally), oysters, lobster and crabs - especially spider crabs which are considered a particular delicacy. Razor-fishing, sand-eeling and limpeting used to be popular activities but have declined in importance. Ormers, being highly sought after, are conserved and fishing is restricted. Another seafood specialty is conger soup.
Bean crock (les pais au fou) can best be described as a sort of Norman cassoulet and in the past was so ubiquitous that English-speaking visitors, purporting to believe that the people of Jersey ate nothing else, dubbed the inhabitants Jersey beans (this epithet is sometimes considered derogatory). Nettle (ortchie) soup was once a popular dish and was considered a tonic for the heart.
Jersey wonders (les mèrvelles) a sort of rich twisted doughnut is made less in the home than formerly but is still a popular treat at fairs and festivals. A sort of wonder poached in milk is known as a fliotte ("une fliotte").
Cabbage loaf is the traditional Jersey bread baked between two cabbage leaves. Vraic buns are very large sweet buns with raisins, and were traditionally eaten when men went out vraicing on the shore (vraic is the Jersey word for seaweed and the collection of seaweed for fertiliser, vraicing, was an important activity - hence the name).
Jersey milk being very rich, cream and butter have played a large part in insular cooking. Unlike other parts of the Duchy of Normandy, there is no historical tradition of cheese - Jersey people traditionally preferring rich yellow thickly-spread butter.
Jersey Royal potatoes are the local variety of new potato, and the island is famous for its early crop of small, tasty potatoes from the south-facing côtils (steeply-sloping fields). They are eaten in any variety of ways, often simply boiled and served with butter.
Apples historically were an important crop. Bourdélots are apple dumplings, but the most typical speciality is black butter (lé nièr beurre), a dark spicy spread prepared from apples, cider and spices. Annual black butter nights (séthées d'nièr beurre) in autumn are still an important traditional social occasion in country areas; the stirring must be maintained around the clock.
Cider used to be an important export. After decline and near-disappearance in the late 20th century, apple production is being increased and promoted. Apple brandy is also produced. Some wine is produced.
Farmers and growers often sell surplus food and flowers in boxes on the roadside, relying on the honesty of those who pass to drop the correct change into the money box and take what they want.
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