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Les Ecrehous is a group of islands and rocks that are located about 9.6 im northeast of Jersey and 12.8 km from France. They form part of the Bailiwick and administratively part of the parish of Saint Martin. There are only five islets which could accommodate a house in the Ecrehous. The biggest islet is Le Maitre Ile (the Master Isle), which is 300 metres long and150 metres wide. There are only four others, Le Marmoutier, La Blianque Ile (White Island), La Grande Brecque, and La Petite Breque. The residents head out to other islands with their valuables in order to keep them dry during the spring high tide. There are no permanent residents, nor is no fresh water or electricity. There are a few fishing shacks which are used on some of the largest islets, and there is a customs house on Marmoutier.

Numerous Paleolithic implements have been found here, showing that in prehistoric times, there were people living on the larger islets probably when they were still part of the mainland.

Like the rest of the Channel Islands and all of the islets were annexed by the Duchy of Normandy in 933. When William the Conqueror became the first Norman king of England in 1066, he kept the Channel Islands in the Duchy of Normandy, and there Les Ecrehous and all of the Channel Islands remain.

In 1203, John, Duke of Normandy, who was soon to become John, King of England, gave the Echrehous to the Abbey of Val-Richer in order for the Abbey to build a church. A chapel was built on Le Maitre which measured 3.12 metres wide by 5.03 metres in length. A small priory extended from the chapel. In 1309, only one prior lived in the Ecrehous, along with one servant.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the islets and rocks of the Ecrehous were used by smugglers on their way to one place or another as they snuck contraband and other items ripe for making money, such as gun powder and lead bound for Saint-Malo and intended to be used for ammunition. The French port in Brittany on the coast of the Channel. The smuggling of these items became so sizable that a formal complaint was made to the Council of State in Saint-Malo. This resulted in a request to Edward Harris, the Lieutenant-Governor to put a stop to the smuggling. It must have been difficult for Harris to keep a straight face at this, given that he was one of the smugglers. Brandy and tobacco soon overtook the ammunition as the most popular smuggled items. The favored items of Jersey included tea, which had seen a rise to 96% in taxes, tobacco, and brandy.

During the 1700s and 1900s, Les Ecrehous was sometimes used for a sort of dumping grounds for voters. People opposed to favoured candidates in nearby elections which were considered important might end up taken away and dumped here until after the elections.

 

 

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