Guernsey Post announces that it will release a stamp issue to mark the 450th anniversary of Sark as a Fief to the Crown (stamp issue date – 22 July 2015).
With a clear view of Sark from his home, Le Manoir, in Jersey (68 pence stamp), Helier de Carteret was concerned about the continuous threat of the island being used as a refuge for pirates or Frenchmen. Following proposals to Elizabeth I that he colonise the smaller island and secure it for the Crown, on 6 August 1565 the Letters Patent from the Queen were signed creating the Fiefdom of Sark and Helier as its first Seigneur. The island was divided into forty plots of land each settled by a family, most of whom came from Jersey.
Depicted on the 42 pence stamp is Saint Magloire who, in 565, landed on Sark from Brittany with 62 monks to establish a Christian monastery. As well as miraculously curing the sick and rescuing a man from a giant conger eel’s jaws, his best-known role was as a dragon slayer. Legend tells that he subdued the beast with his stole then led it to the cliff edge where the dragon fell to its death.
Without permanent settlers the island became a haven for pirates and wreckers. After sailing close by in the 1530s the French writer François Rabelais described Sark as a place of ‘pirates, thieves, brigands, murderers and assassins.’ (57 pence stamp).
In 1549, 200 paroled French convicts landed under the command of Captain François Breuil (62 pence stamp), who, reinforced a month later by another 200 Frenchmen, built three forts on Sark. They were finally ousted four years later although there was another short-lived French occupation in the early 1560s.
In the 1830s silver and copper mining operations began on Little Sark, but when the venture failed it bankrupted Seigneur Pierre Le Pelley in 1852 who sold the Fief of Sark to the Collings family; their descendants have held the title ever since. The 77 pence stamp shows some of the ruined mine buildings that could be seen until recently.
Guernsey Post’s head of philatelic Dawn Gallienne comments: – “The tiny island of Sark has an interesting story to tell. Its history is rich and unusual and we are thrilled to mark the island’s 450th anniversary as a Fief to the Crown with a set of stamps which reflect this.”
The stamps will be available to pre-order by visiting www.guernseystamps.com or by contacting philatelic customer services on (01481) 716486.