Chief Pleas and Court of the Seneschal
The Chief Pleas building was originally the boys school and was used in 1942 to teach both boys and girls the German language during the Occupation.
Chief Pleas, the equivalent of Parliament, originally made up of the Seigneur and the Tenants (owners of the tenements of land) sat for the first time in 1579. They administered justice as Jurats (Justices of Peace) but in 1583 the Chief Pleas acknowledged Guernsey as its appeal court for matters of justice. The Jurist stood down in 1675 to be replaced by the Seneschal (Magistrate), Prevot (Sheriff) and Greffier (Clerk of the Court).
Until the 1920s, only the tenants and the Seigneur had a seat in Chief Pleas. The other occupiers of the Island felt they were not represented and appealed to the Lieutenant Governor in Guernsey. From that investigation in the 1920s six, and later 12, People’s Deputies were elected; these were residents who did not own land on Sark. The Chief Pleas usually met only three times a year but elected 12 of their members to sit on a Council (The Douzaine) to deal with the more mundane matters of running Sark, e.g road repairs.
The Seigneur had the casting vote on all matters until recently.
Sark was the last feudal state in existence in Europe until 2008 when the island changed its constitution to form a new democracy.
The Seneschal’s Office and Court are also within this building. The court lies to the left of the building.
Sark continues to govern independently and is a separate jurisdiction from the other Channel Islands, responsible for creating its own laws.