1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alderney

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ALDERNEY (Fr. Aurigny), one of the Channel Islands, the northernmost of the principal members of the group, belonging to England. It lies in 49° 43′ N. and 2° 12′ W., 9 m. W. of Cape La Hague on the coast of Normandy. The harbour, on the north coast in the bay of Braye, is 25 m. from St Peter Port, Guernsey, by way of which outer communications are principally carried on, and 55 m. S. by E. of Portland Bill, the nearest point of England. The length of the island from N. E. to S. W. is 31/2 m., its average breadth 1 m., its area 1962 acres, and its population (1901) 2062.

The strait between the island and Cape La Hague, called the Race of Alderney (French Raz Blanchard), confined by numerous rocks and reefs off either coast, is rendered very dangerous in stormy weather by conflicting currents. Through this difficult channel the scattered remnant of the French fleet under Tourville escaped after the defeat of La Hogue in 1692. To the west is the narrower and also dangerous channel of the Swinge (Singe), between Alderney and the uninhabited islets of Burhou, Ortach and others. West of these again are the Casquets, a group of rocks to which attaches a long record of shipwreck. Rocks and reefs fringe all the coasts of Alderney. The island itself is a level open tableland, which on the south-west and south falls abruptly to the sea in a majestic series of cliffs. The greatest elevation of the land is about 300 ft. Towards the north-west, north and east the less rocky coast is indented by several bays, with open sandy shores, of which those of Crabby, Braye, Corblets and Longy are the most noteworthy. South-west of Longy Bay, where the coast rises boldly, there is a remarkable projecting block of sandstone, called La Roche Pendante (Hanging Rock) overhanging the cliff. Sandstone (mainly along the north-east coast), granite and porphyry are the chief geological formations. There are a few streams, but water is obtained mainly from the wells. Trees are scarce. The town of St Anne stands almost in the centre of the island overlooking and extending towards the harbour. Here are the courthouse, a gateway commemorating Albert, prince-consort, the clock tower, which belonged to the ancient parish church, and the modern church (1850), in Early English style, an excellent example of the work of Sir Gilbert Scott. The church is a memorial to the family of Le Mesurier, in which the hereditary governorship of the island was vested until the abolition of the office in 1825. There is a chain of forts round the north coast from Clanque Fort on the west to Fort Essex on the east; the largest is Fort Albert, above Braye Bay. In 1847 work was begun on a great breakwater west of the harbour, the intention being to provide a harbour of refuge, but although a sum exceeding one and a half million sterling was spent the scheme was unsuccessful. The soil of Alderney is light, fertile and well cultivated; grain and vegetables are grown and early potatoes are exported. A large part of the island is under grass, affording pasture for cattle. The well-known term “Alderney cattle,” however, has lost in great measure its former signification of a distinctive breed. Alderney is included in the bailiwick of Guernsey. It has a court consisting of a judge and six jurats, attorney-general, prévot, greffierô and sergent; but as a judicial court it is subordinate to that of Guernsey, and its administrative powers are limited to such matters as the upkeep of roads.

For its relations to the constitution of the bailiwick, and for the history of the island, see Channel Islands.