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St Peter's

St Peter’s is known officially as Saint Pierre du Bois (St Peter in the Wood). It is on the south-west of Guernsey, starting from just after the airport, stretching to the west coast with a tiny detached part on the cliffs. It shares borders with Torteval, St Saviour’s, Forest and St Andrew’s. St Peter’s has lots of countryside, farms, cliffs and sandy beaches. It has a population of just over 2000.

Fort Grey is known as the ‘Cup and Saucer’ by the locals. The small martello tower is connected to the west coast at Rocquaine by a causeway. Where Fort Grey stands there used to be a castle known as the Chateau de Rocquaine. In 1804 the old castle was pulled down and the tower that we see today was built. During the nineteenth-century, Fort Grey protected Guernsey from French invasion. In World War II it was again used for defense by the Germans before falling into disrepair. It was restored in the 1970’s and is now a maritime museum about Guernsey shipwrecks.

L'Eree is a sandy beach popular with families. It has a thick concrete wall protecting the sand dunes and the tide goes out a long way leaving lots of rock pools. Just inland from the beach is L’Eree aerodrome, this was Guernsey’s first aerodrome, it had three grass runways, the longest being 450 metres. The aerodrome is now the site for the West show, an annual event with horticultural produce, a pageant of traditional clothes, livestock and live entertainment.

North of L’Eree, on the tip of the Braye peninsula, is the island of Lihou. Lihou is only joined to Guernsey at low tide by a causeway. At mid-tide the sea quickly flows over the 400 metre long causeway making it unsafe to cross. Lihou is the most westerly point in the Channel Islands. Lihou is recognized as a 'Site of Nature Conservation Importance' and it is also an important nesting area for birds. The priory on Lihou is thought to have been founded by Benedictine monks in the twelfth century.

The headland at northern tip of L'Eree near the entrance to Lihou island shows signs of life that date back for many years. Fort Saumarez was originally a Martello tower to protect the beaches from French invasion. During world war two it was re-built as a naval observation tower. The passage grave in the middle of the hill is called Creux ès Fees and it was excavated in 1840. Bones, pottery and arrow heads dating back to 2000BC were found there. The Prosperity Memorial sits on the Lihou headland. It remembers the 18 sailors who lost their lives in 1943 when their ship sank in rough seas.

St Peter’s church was built in the 14th century and it sits on the side of a valley. The main entrance faces north, usually the unpopular side because it is known as the Devil's side. It has a square tower which contains 13 bells, the largest peal in the Channel Islands. Rich parishioners were only buried inside the church if they paid £1. There are several streams under the church so rising damp has always been a problem. Its floor also slopes 1 1/2 metres from east to west.

La Longue Rocque is Guernsey’s largest ancient monument, standing 3 and a half metres above ground with a further metre below ground. It stands in a field off the Route des Paysans. Guernsey folklore said that the fairies used to use it as a cricket bat and some say that it increases fertility if touched. There used to be a dolmen close by called Creux de Faîes but it was destroyed. St Peter’s has a long association with witchcraft. Witches and wizards were said to meet at Les Eturs, four times weekly and at the Longfrie crossroads. Look out for a witch on her broomstick on the Longfrie pub.

St Peters has a small village centre surrounded by countryside. It has a post office, shops, banks, an art gallery, a community centre and a launderette. St Peter’s won the Floral Guernsey Community Competition in 2009 so they will represent Guernsey in the 2010 Britain in Bloom competition. Many parishioners signed up to ‘Give an Hour’ a month to weed, plant and cut and make the gardens in St Peter’s more beautiful. They also created a community garden and planted a row of 130 trees in a wildlife meadow.

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  102k v. 1 16 Feb 2011, 13:52 katie Beavan