Guernsey Culture

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The current flag of Guernsey was first flown on 15 February 1985. It was designed by a committee (the Guernsey Flag Investigation Committee) chaired by the then Deputy Bailiff. It consists of the red on white cross of St George overlain by a gold cross pattée. The gold cross is said to have appeared on the Gonfalon (a banner) of William of Normandy at the battle of Hastings in 1066, and can be seen on the Bayeux tapestry.

Prior to this the plain St George's cross was used. As this could be confused with the same flag as used by England it was felt a distinguishing design should be used.

An ensign also exists for Guernsey vessels. This consists of the Red Ensign with the gold cross of William in the fly.


The Seal of the Bailiwick of Guernsey is kept by the Bailiff of Guernsey. It can only be used in the presence of two Jurats. It features three lions rampant.

The Guernsey Lily is the national flower of Guernsey. Indigenous to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa it is believed that it first arrived in Guernsey in the 17th Century. Probably aboard a returning Dutch vessel that either put in to Guernsey or was wrecked on the island. The earliest association with Guernsey is in John Evelyn's Gardener's Chronicle of 1664 where it is called "Narcissus Japonica or Guernsey Lily - that rare flower". Grown from a bulb it produces beautiful dark pink lily-like flowers.


Guernseymen are known as Donkeys, particularly by Jerseymen. This has been attributed to their stubborn nature. Guernseymen call Jerseymen Crapauds), without necessarily understanding its true meaning.


The Golden Guernsey breed is distinguished by its golden skin and hair, they have a pleasant temperament and steady milk yield. Although the remains of goats dating back as far 2000 BC have been found in Guernsey, it was not until 1922 that registration of goats was started by the Guernsey Goat Society. The Golden Guernsey breed was first recognised in 1965, and a special section of the Herd Book was established.



The Ormer is a much prized delicacy in Guernsey. So highly prized that their population has declined rapidly since the 19th century when 20,000 could be gathered in a day. Gathering ormers is now strictly controlled by law and can only occur on an ormering tide between 1 January and 30 April each year. Only ormers larger than 80mm (3.15 inches) may be taken, and gatherers are not allowed to wear wet suits or even put their heads under water.

The ormer is soaked in fresh water, removed from it's shell, cleaned, and beaten with a steak hammer. It is then dusted with flour ,and fried. They can be eaten in a casserole, and when stocks were plentiful they were also pickled. Ormer shells make attractive keepsakes as the inside of the shell is covered in mother of pearl.


A traditional Guernsey dish similar to the French cassoulet. It is a stew traditionally slowly cooked over the fire during the day while the men were out working. Main ingredients are haricot beans, pigs trotters and carrots/onions.


A Guernsey fruit loaf


Guernsey's National Anthem is Sarnia Chérie.



Guernésiais, also known as Guernsey French or Dgèrnésiais is the form of the Norman language spoken in Guernsey. It is very similar to the ancient Norman tongue.

French was the official language of the Courts and the States until 1929, and was also used extensively in St Peter Port. Guernésiais was mainly used in the country parishes. There were three dialects of the language, that spoken in the Low Parishes , the version spoken in the Câtel and St Andrews, and the one spoken in the High Parishes.

A number of Guernésiais words also feature in Guernsey English, including bunchos (somersaults), and chancre (edible crab). The first dictionary in Guernésiais was written by George Metivier, and published in 1870. This also established the first orthography or spelling system. The most recent dictionary, Dictiounnaire Angllais-Guernésiais, was compiled by Marie de Garis, and first published in 1967 - the latest revision was in 1982.

The 2001 census showed only 2% of islanders spoke the language fluently, with 70% of those being over 64. However attempts are being made to preserve and extend the language.


Notable local artists include Paul Jacob Naftel and Peter Le Lievre



The first French language newspaper, La Gazette de Guernesey, was first published regularly from 1791. The first English newspaper, The Guernsey Star, was first published in 1813. Today, the Guernsey Press (established 1897) publishes a daily newspaper. Further details of current and historical Guernsey newspapers can be found on the main Newspapers page.


BBC Radio Guernsey has been broadcasting in the island since the early 1980s, and Island FM the island's only commercial radio station, launched in October 1992.


Guernsey knitwear

The Guernsey sweater is a traditional knitwear item, originally worn by sailors and fishermen. The Guernsey is made from oiled wool and is tightly knit to a unique pattern.

The Guernsey wool industry dates back to the early 16th century, when islanders were granted permission to import wool from England. They knitted this into stockings, and exported them back to the United Kingdom. At its peak it represented one of the islands main sources of income.

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