The Island of Jethou
I’ve routed you here because Jethou doesn’t have its own official Website. You can most certainly Google it, and I encourage you to do so! I alone could never do this precious island justice.
To me Jethou is my treasure island. It literally holds the most cherished memories I have of my parents. Together we worked hard, played hard and laughed hard during our three week stay on Jethou. Dad and Mom showed and shared with us every historical inch of this fascinating island. Dad would always say, “If only this island could talk . . .”
Sir Peter Ogden, my parent’s boss, my friend and current tenant of Jethou says this about his island. “Jethou, from the sea, looks like a lump of wet rock and the isolation, bareness and inaccessibility suggests that it would be an inhospitable place for any inhabitant. It has been said that there is little of historic interest on Jethou, but that is because nobody has ever looked.”
Peter has looked. He conceived the idea and funded the project to write the story of Jethou. The author he chose, Jenny Cataroche, is a native to The Channel Islands. She was born and educated on the island of Guernsey and holds an MA in archeology and anthropology.
The History and Archeology of Jethou was published in 2012 and tells the fascinating history of this seemingly insignificant island. Jethou first enters into written history with its acquisition in the 11th Century by Restauld from Duke Robert of Normandy. In more recent times it has been a game park for Governors of Guernsey, a place of quarantine against the plague, a source of stone for building projects and a holiday resort for tourists. It was the place where Jean Allaire horded his riches, the site where Colonel Fielden tried and failed to evade customs, the writing place for Compton McKenzie and the setting for no less than three works of popular fiction.
When I think of Jethou, I imagine Compton McKenzie writing in his small purpose-built writing hut. I often longed to write Peter and ask if I could come and write Bound to a Promise in Mr. McKenzie’s hut. I have no doubt he would have obliged me, but logistically there just never seemed to be the right time. I don’t believe Bound to a Promise will be the only book I write; as a matter of fact I’m quite sure I will write others. So perhaps my dream of writing alone in Sir Compton McKenzie’s purpose-built writing hut on an island that owns my heart may one day come true.
In addition to Jethou’s rich history, one of my favorite things about Jethou are the adorable Puffins who come to Jethou every year to breed. They are a captivating little bird with an interesting life. They spend the winter at sea, out of sight of land and only come ashore to breed. Puffins typically only lay a single egg that takes around 39 days to hatch; the young remain in the nest for around 50 days and mysteriously depart under the cover of darkness, flying straight out to sea.
Another favorite of mine is the iconic Bluebell wildflowers that bring a massive Spring bloom to the woodlands of Jethou. To see that blue velvet mass blanket the woods of Jethou is simply breathtaking!
As the saying goes, “A picture paints a thousand words.” So I will conclude this page with photographs of my treasure island.