14th July 1870

Victor Hugo plants his United States of Europe oak

Victor Hugo spent 15 years exiled in Guernsey, and only returned to France after Napoleon III’s fall from power in 1870. While living on the island, he planted an acorn in the grounds of his home, Hauteville House, and declared that by the time it had become a mature oak we would be living in a United States of Europe. He declared that the continent’s various nations would have been brought together with a single currency.

Despite the fact that France and Britain were still frequently at loggerheads at the time – and two world wars would be fought within the following century – Hugo’s belief was remarkably prescient. In many ways, it is the euro that has brought the various countries of Europe together, by making it easier to trade and travel, and giving many of them a common point of reference.

The oak flourished and, almost a century and a half later, it’s still growing in the grounds of his one-time home.

Commemorative stamp

Guernsey Post Office issued a stamp bearing an image of the oak on 6 June 1975 – a little over a century after it had been planted. With a face value of 8p, the stamp was captioned “United Europe Oak (Hauteville)”, and showed the tree in full leaf on a green background. It had been designed and printed by Courvoisier, and is commonly found on auction sites where it usually sells for a few pence.

The stamp was part of a set of four that included a view of Hauteville House (worth 3.5p), the statue of Victor Hugo in Candie Gardens (4p) and the Tapestry Room at the house (10p).


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Other events that occured in July

Guernseyman Edward Tupper killed by cannibals 1st
Alderney is occupied by German forces 2nd
Seigneur of Sark, Michael Beaumont, dies aged 88 3rd
Guernsey hosted the Island Games 2003 closing ceremony 4th
New coins are minted for Guernsey 5th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Museum opens 6th
Victor Hugo statue is unveiled in Candie Gardens 7th
First Commando raid of the Second World War 8th
Birth of Sark-based writer Mervyn Peake 9th
Guernsey nurses go on hunger strike 10th
ITV broadcasts first episode of Island at War 11th
A Guernsey man posted himself to Sark 12th
Murderer Peter Robin sentenced to death 13th
Victor Hugo plants his United States of Europe oak 14th
Point Law runs aground off Alderney 15th
Racing yacht Westward is blown up off Guernsey
BBC made its first ever Channel Islands broadcast 16th
The Star received some “grave” news 17th
The Guernsey Martyrs were burned at the stake 18th
Prince Charles and Camilla visit Guernsey 19th
President Garcia is re-floated in Saints Bay 20th
Typhoid suspect holidaymaker flies home 21st
Guernsey Controlling Committee’s Sir John Leale died 22nd
Alderney to Guernsey radio connection established 23rd
Val des Terres was first opened for traffic 24th
The BBC broadcasts from Sark for the first time 25th
Guernsey court escapee was caught again 26th
Braye du Valle was gifted by the crown 27th
Murderer sentenced to death in three hours 28th
Guernsey bought Herm from the mainland 29th
Albert Lamy appointed Guernsey Police Chief Officer 30th
Guernsey to Jersey plane crashed into the sea 31st