Herm

HERM, one of the smaller Norman Islands, 3 miles (N. E.) from Guernsey, in the jurisdiction of which it is included; containing 38 inhabitants. It is supposed that this place is mentioned in the Itinerary of Antoninus under the name of Armia. Its appearance is diversified with hills and dales, and though smaller than other islands of the group, it is little inferior to them in beauty of scenery. The northern beach, from which it rises to a considerable elevation, is extensive, and equal in the smoothness and firmness of its sands to the coast of Worthing or Weymouth. The bay of Belvoir, on the eastern side of the island, is situated at the base of a winding and sequestered vale, embosomed in hills of gradual ascent and pleasing undulation; and is the favourite retreat, during the summer, of the ladies of Guernsey, who resort to this romantic spot to collect the curious and beautiful shells which are peculiar to it. The air is mild and salubrious, and the soil is fertile, and of an average depth of three feet in that part of the island which is devoted to agriculture. The artificial grasses so much esteemed in England are indigenous to the soil, which yields in abundance wheat, barley, oats, lucerne, turnips, and every variety of agricultural produce. There are not less than 33 springs of pure water, which afford abundant facilities of irrigating the land in dry seasons. The principal feature, however, in the island is its inexhaustible quarries of granite, which have been found by experiment to be superior to any hitherto discovered. Twelve cubic feet of Herm granite are equal in weight to thirteen of that of Aberdeen, a proof of its greater solidity; but its chief excellence consists in its wearing down rough and uniform in surface, when laid down in carriage roads, and thus affording a safer footing for horses. It can be raised in blocks of any size and form; some blocks have exceeded 100 tons in weight. This source of wealth was entirely neglected till the island passed into the possession of the Hon. John Lindsey, whose plans, after his death, were carried into full execution by Jonathan Duncan, Esq., who became proprietor by marriage with the daughter of Mr. Lindsey. Mr. Duncan, at a vast expense, constructed a harbour, in which vessels of 250 tons' burthen might load under the protection of an excellent pier, during the most boisterous weather, in perfect safety; also an iron railway from the quarries to the pier, from which 600 tons per day may be shipped with great ease. He built houses for 400 workmen, an inn, a brewery, a bakehouse, and several forges for making the various implements used in the quarries. In the northern extremity of Herm are some masses of stone which are supposed, but upon no authority, to be Druidical remains; and there are portions of an ancient building in the isle, thought to have been a chapel belonging to a hermitage existing here in the sixth century. In forming the gardens of the mansion-house, some coffins and skeletons were discovered, which were probably the remains of some refugees, who, during the religious persecutions of Charles IX. of France, are imagined to have found an asylum in the island.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

Navigation

Preface
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z