Historical Buildings & Sites
The original entrance to the bay was blasted through the rock in 1588 and still remains today. The main entrance, along with the protective harbour wall, was not built until 1866.
Creux Harbour allowed easy access to Jersey which was important in the 16th century as Sark's first Seigneur originated from St Ouen in Jersey.
Today the harbour is mainly used by local fishermen & visiting boats. It is also a much loved swimming spot at high tide in the big natural pool.
La Coupee is an Isthmus of sedimentary rock connecting Big Sark & Little Sark. Until 1900 there were no railings and on windy days the school children would crawl over on their hands and knees.
During the Occupation the residents of Little Sark were sent to live on Big Sark so that the land could be planted with potatoes. People were allowed to return each day only to attend the crops and animals.
Following Sark's Liberation the captured German Prisoners of War were ordered to rebuild La Coupee, erecting the concrete supports and handrails that we see today. The reconstruction took around 6 months.
La Seigneurie House
La Seigneurie house dates from 1675 and has been home to two of Sark’s three Seigneurial families: the Le Pelleys (from 1730) and the Collings (from 1852), the latter being ancestors of the current Seigneur.
Over the centuries and under the whims of successive Seigneurs, La Seigneurie evolved into the house we see today. The result is a building of great character, with at least two ways to most rooms and no less than sixteen flights of stairs, excluding those to the tower!
Beside the residence there are two stone outbuildings, one of which is called the Chapel, and a dovecot erected by Dame Le Pelley in 1733 to house her pigeons. The Watchtower is Victorian, erected to allow for signalling between Sark and Guernsey.
Helier DeCarteret found the ruins of this property when he landed on Sark in 1563. He rebuilt the house and carved his coat of arms into the stone, establishing Le Manoir as the original Seigneurie.
Le Manoir remained as residence of the Seigneur until 1730 when Susan Le Pelley became Dame. Susan chose to remain in her residence at Le Perronerie, within the grounds of what is today La Seigneurie, and gifted Le Manoir to the Minister. It continued to be used as a vicarage until the 1930's when it was purchased as a private residence.
Mantlet Half Tower
From the time of Helier DeCarteret in 1565 until 1880, Sark had its own militia. The militia consisted of ordinary citizens who were obliged to enrol for military duty on behalf of the English Crown.
The Mantlet Half Tower was built around 1800 as a shelter for the person who set out the targets during shooting practice on L'Epercquerie Common. The shooters stood where the bike park is today, about 400m from the Manlet.
In the late 1990s the tower was struck by lightening and badly damaged but has since been rebuilt.
Window in the Rock
In 1853 Rev. William T. Collings became Seigneur of Sark, his mother, Marie, having only been Seigneur for less than a year before her death.
Collings was keen on improving the welfare of the community and sought to encourage the newly developed industry of tourism.
To this end he had a window cut into the cliff, framing the view of Port Du Moulin Bay Arch and Les Autlets. By the 1870s, Sark had around 5k visitors a year.
The original Sark Prison stood near to where St. Peter's Church is today. Over time it became dilapidated and by 1832 the Arsenal was being used as an interim prison, despite being entirely unfit for purpose.
The little barrel-roofed two-celled prison we know today was eventually built in 1856 and is one of the world’s smallest prisons still in use.
Judicial powers granted to Sark in 1583 allow a prisoner to be held for a maximum of two days. If the crime is severe enough to warrant further punishment the offender will be sent to Guernsey prison.
Visitor Centre & Heritage Room
The Visitor Centre was originally built as a Girls' School in 1841 by Seigneur Ernest Le Pelley. It was part of a project, envisaged by his brother, Pierre Le Pelley lll and Rev Cachemaille, whereby surplus money being generated by the new silver mining venture would be used to benefit Sark’s community.
When foundations were dug it was discovered that this was in fact the site of the Island’s first cemetery.
The Girls' School eventually became the co-ed Infant & Junior School until 2005 when the new school opened and it was turned into the Tourism Centre & Societe Sercquaise Heritage Room.
Chief Pleas Building
The Chief Pleas building was originally the Boys' School and later became the co-ed Senior School.
Today the building houses Sark's court room and Parliament, Chief Pleas, which sat for the first time in 1579, consisting of the Seigneur and the Tenants.
Until the 1920s only the Tenants and the Seigneur had a seat in Chief Pleas. Residents appealed to the Lieutenant Governor in Guernsey and finally in 1954 12 People’s Deputies were elected.
Sark remained the last feudal state in existence in Europe until 2008 when the Island changed its constitution to form a new democracy.
Until the 20th century Sark’s economy was based on agriculture and a reliable mill was essential to sustain the original settlers. In 1571 Helier DeCarteret built this windmill, carving his coat of arms on the north lintel to signify the Seigneur’s right to a monopoly over the milling of grain. This may be the earliest date on a vernacular building in the Channel Islands.
The Mill sits on Sark’s highest ground, at 110m above sea level where the wind blows freely. It has survived well, despite a fire in 1797 by locals protesting the Seigneur’s monopoly and decapitation by the German forces in 1940 to make a lookout platform.
Restoration began in 1951 and was led by the artist Arthur Bradbury. Further restoration in the late 90s was needed to save the mill from further dilapidation.
L'Epercquerie Common was used by the Monks on Sark between the 6th and 14th centuries to dry fish and conger eels on wooden stakes. The old Norman French word for stake was ‘perques’, thus giving the area the name it still bears today.
L'Eperquerie Landing was the main port until Creux Harbour was opened in 1588. The Landing was vulnerable to invasion from the French and as such the headland was fortified. Remains of the fort walls, square bastion, archway and guardhouse still remain.
At the time of the Occupation a family of 10 is said to have been living in the old guardhouse, La Garde.
The Silver Mine Ruins
In 1834 Seigneur Pierre Le Pelley lll granted a 21 year mining concession for Sark. Mining began in 1835, mostly at Port Gorey where four shafts were sunk and a railway and jetty built. A rich seam of silver was struck but it was very narrow and did not last long.
In 1839 Pierre drowned at sea and his brother Ernest took over as Seigneur. A brief period of prosperity followed but there was an ever-present need for more money and new pumps to prevent flooding.
In 1845 a gallery ceiling collapsed and seawater flooded in, drowning ten miners. Legend has it that on the same day a ship loaded with Sark Silver was wrecked off the coast of Guernsey and all cargo lost.
The ill-fated enterprise then came to an end, as did 120 years of Le Pelley Seigneurship when the family lost the Fiefdom of Sark as a result of the mining debts.
St. Peter's Church
During the Napoleonic Wars, popular hostility and the rise of Methodism had undermined the authority of the Seigneur and his Ministers. A Sark Parish Church was conceived as a means of re-establishing the authority of Anglicanism in Sark.
The Church was built in 1820 on what was once the site of a wooden tower housing the ‘Island Bell’, which now hangs at the Chief Pleas building. Funding came partly from the 40 Tenemant landowners who subscribed to the family pews, still in existence today.
Seigneur Reverend W. T. Collings had a keen interest in contemporary Gothic architecture and in 1877 he re-designed the east end with an ornate chancel and clock tower. The pulpit was installed in 1883 in memory of Reverend J.L.V. Cachemaille.
On a stormy October evening in 1868 Agnew Giffard, his brother Walter, Russell Renouf, Dr. Gatehouse and J.G. Pilcher all set off for Guernsey from Havre Gosselin. They were warned it was too dangerous but tragically they did not take heed.
The wreck of the gig was found seven miles from Dielette on the Normandy coast. Agnew's body came ashore in Havre Gosselin, Walter’s body was found in a small cave at the L'Eperquerie, Russell’s body was found in the Gouliot caves and two months later Pilcher’s body came ashore at Niton, Isle of Wight. The Doctor’s body was never found.
The granite monument above Havre Gosselin was erected by Pilcher’s widow with an inscription warning others of the mighty power of the sea.
Little Sark Dolmen
The Little Sark Dolmen is a magnificent Megalithic stone structure over 3,000 years old, thought to be a sort of burial chamber.
More recent thinking suggests that dolmen sites were part of religious centres, brining together scattered farms or settlements as a clan or family.
Owing to the many burial sites found on Sark it is thought that the island as a whole was once a place of significant religious importance.
Sark's first Methodist Chapel was built in 1796 at La Ville Roussel. The working people of Sark had turned to the Methodists for moral leadership as they had become discontented with the feudal system and the Seigneural hold over the Church.
However, by the 1920s the then owner of La Ville Roussel wished for the Chapel to be moved to a different location as the loud singing on a Sunday morning was too disruptive.
With permission from the English Crown, the land owner gifted a plot at the opposite end of the Island to the Methodists. In 1926 the Chapel was moved just under a mile to where it sits today.