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Lihou, which is part of the Parish of St. Peter's in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, is a small island off the west coast of Guernsey, and the most westerly of the Channel Islands. It is a conservation area owned by the States of Guernsey, and jointly managed by the Lihou Charitable Trust and the Guernsey Environment Department. It was long used by locals for the collection of seaweed to be used as fertiliser, and it is now used for tourism. It is now part of a Ramsar wetland site for the preservation of plants and rare birds. It is also the site of historic ruins of a priory as well as a farmhouse. It is accessed by a causeway that is exposed during low tide.

During the 1990s, there were numerous archaeological digs which unearthed a multitude of Mesolithic artifacts and Neolithic era tombs. It is believed that Lihou was a meeting place for witches in the area. The priory was founded sometime between 1114 and 1156. It was dedicated to St. Mary and operated on the authority of the Benedictine abbey of Mont St. Michel. The island was part of a grant made to the abbey in the early eleventh century by Robert I, the Duke of Normandy.

The priory was captured by King Henry V of England in 1414, though it continued to operate until 1560 or so. John West, the Governor of Guernsey, ordered the priory destroyed in 1759 in order to keep French military from capturing the island during the Seven Years' War.

During the Second World War, the Channel Islands were occupied by the German army for nearly the entire war, from 1940 to 1945. Lihou was designated as the location for target practice by that army.

More than a dozen people owned the island over the years, but in 1995, it was purchased by the States of Guernsey with the stated purpose of guarantying access to the island for everyone, and all are welcome when the causeway is open, which is during low tide. Lihou House is available for groups of no more than thirty people who wish to experience the island while the causeway is down. Nesting birds and an array of marine life abound as the tide goes down, and many of the birds which are there are rare. There are no vehicles allowed on Lihou.

The Lihou Charitable Trust is responsible for Lihou House and the house grounds while the Environment Department of the States of Guernsey is responsible for the island itself.

 

 

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