Island Life   

    the community website serving the Channel Islands                                                                       celebrating 18 years 2000 - 2018




History of Sark

Neolithic Man

Few pre-historic remains have been found in Sark and one theory is that the 90 metre high cliffs inaccessible cliffs made colonisation almost impossible. 

Christianity arrives

It is thought that St Magloire went to Sark in 550AD and from there friars were despatched to the other islands. In 933 AD, the island became part of the Duchy of Normandy and over the ensuing centuries the tiny island switched many times between English and French Crown rule.

In 1549, French troops seized the uninhabited island and built several forts before seemingly losing interest and eventually departing.  

Last Feudal State in Europe

Sark until 2008 was the last truly feudal state in Europe as the laws, particularly relating to inheritance have changed little since 1565.  The first Seigneur colonised the island in 1565 with Queen Elizabeth's blessing and granted 40 islanders tenements. The Seigneur holds the island on lease from the Crown in perpetuity. Even to this day, the island is split up into 40 leaseholds but the population stands at around 550. 


In the 17th century, Sark accumulated wealth through privateering (legalised piracy) and in 1834, silver was discovered on the island. By 1841, the population had grown to 790. However the mine, turned into a financial disaster after becoming flooded and the Seigneur was forced to sell his fief t0 Mrs T G Collings, a direct ancestor of the present Seigneur.

Tourism became popular in the 19th century and is now the island's main industry.

Government Reforms

The island's government the "Chief Pleas was until 2008 made up of the forty tenants and 12 elected politicians.  Following pressure from the EU, on 10th December 2008, the electorate voted in 28 Conseillers, thereby bringing to an end the last feudal state in Europe.

Maseline harbour was opened in 1949. Prior to that the older Le Creux was used but it dries at low tide. Havre Gosselin a small harbour on the west side was built in 1912. Prior to that, anyone disembarking had to scale the cliffs on a ladder.



Search the Site

Follow us on Twitter

Find us on Facebook

Follow islandlifeinfo on Twitter