17th May 2008

Herm goes back on the market

Pennie and Adrian Howarth put their lease of Herm up for sale in May 2008. The asking price was £15m. They’d run the island for 28 years and, by then in their late 50s, decided it was time for someone else to take on the role of 24-hour caretakers.

Shell Beach on Herm

Pennie, who was born on Herm, was the daughter of Jenny and Major Peter Wood. In 1949 they had become the island’s first tenants after the States of Guernsey had acquired it from the British crown. Pennie and Adrian had taken over the lease in 1980.

Sold to locals

For a while, it looked like the Van Essen hotel group would buy the lease for the full asking price. In the end, though, it was sold to Guernsey residents John and Julia Singer. They bought it in October 2008, reportedly for quite a bit less than the States of Guernsey had wanted. The Singers had met on the island 14 years before.

The purchase of the lease was funded by Starboard Settlement trust. One of the directors of Starboard Settlement, Andrew Bailey, had previously been Herm’s accountant for 14 years, and would head up finance and administration for the trust. Along with the other two directors, Jonathan Watson and Simon George, he had already been a resident on Herm for several years.

Anthony Gormley statue on Herm

Negotiating a lease extension

The lease agreed between the States of Guernsey and Herm Island Limited, a subsidiary of Starboard Settlement, was set to run to 2048. The leaseholders asked for an extension of 21 years to make necessary improvements more financially viable. The States agreed, but only on certain conditions.

It first appointed two independent valuers, who said the lease extension was worth £440,000. However, the States asked for £6m. If the tenant completed £2m worth of improvements in just five years, this would be reduced to the valuation amount.

The trust had planned to complete the works over much longer, and thus provide employment over the quieter winter season. The Guernsey Press, in an editorial comment in October 2013, said that Treasury and Resources, the department of the States that was handling the extension, knew that “Herm can only cope with about £150,000-worth of capital projects a year, and then only in the winter season when there are no guests”, which would effectively make the latter requirement impossible to satisfy.

Ultimately, talks on the lease extension broke down.

Rosaire Steps on Herm


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Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st