The Channel Isles have a long history of black dogs of death, says MB FORDE, author of Eerie Britain 1 & 2
Eerie goings on abound on the two islands of Guernsey and Jersey.
Despite being the largest of the Channel Island archipelago and having a slew of interesting and creepy tales their legends don’t seem to be written about as much as other places in the British Isles, which I think is a shame as they are just as rich as elsewhere.
Aside from the more well-known stories that follow, there is also a great deal of personal experiences reported by folk: from strange lights to full-blown apparitions.
Certainly, folklore and tales of the supernatural have always been integral to these islands and the yarns that emanate from here range widely, featuring everything from fairies and witches to ghosts and giants.
The British Isles has a plethora of black dog legends and the Channel Islands aren’t to be left out, for Jersey and Guernsey are supposedly both cursed with two each. Much about the legends overlap.
On Jersey, a dog called Le Tchan de Bouole is said to appear around Bouley Bay, wandering the cliffs and locale — usually before a storm hits the island. Some say it has very large eyes and drags chains about — it is even thought to have chased a car full of people in 2008 as a black shadow (although I can’t find the original source for that one).
Paddy Dillon in his book Channel Island Walks, suspects this legend might have come from smugglers wishing to keep prying eyes away as Bouley Bay was once a noted hotspot for bringing in contraband.
If you like, you can mull the story over while enjoying a steak at the interestingly named The Black Dog, a nearby pub.
The second hound to stalk these shores is called Tchico or the Black Dog of Death.
This one is said to accompany the souls of the recently departed. Is this also the dog that appeared out of nowhere and accompanied a traveller one night, padding silently alongside him as he passed two men that later turned out to be footpads (having beaten and robbed another traveller that evening)? It seemed the spectral dog had protected the traveller for reasons that remain unknown.
This Tchico seems to be also found on Guernsey and Sark with minor variations.
The Guernsey Tchico might be some weird incarnation of a former bailiff named Gaultier de la Salle who, in the 1300s, was hanged for trying to get his neighbour, a man called Massy, executed for a theft he didn’t commit.
This was over a property dispute with Massy refusing to sell a portion of his land to de la Salle, thereby incurring his murderous wrath. The deceit was found out at the last minute and it was de la Salle who was sent to the gallows. Sometimes the hound appears without a head and objects are said to pass right through it.
Guernsey also has Tchen Bodu, whose sight, like many demon hounds, brings death upon the viewer.
Is Tchen Bodu also the Bête de la Tour that pads softly around Tower Hill in St Peter Port, its eyes glowing red?
Perhaps it is, although some sources say this dog is never seen—only heard.
Black dogs cause death on these shores
I wonder if this dog’s hunting grounds extend to around Saint Pierre du Bois and he is the one responsible for the fate of the cart driver who died of shock after seeing a mysterious black dog, or the disembodied howls said to have been heard echoing eerily through the night.
Sark lies to the west of Guernsey. Its Tchico haunts the island’s isthmus—a place known as La Coupée.
This passage joins Little Sark to Great Sark and, being an isthmus, is narrow so encountering a hound of Hell here doesn’t leave much room to manoeuvre. Sark’s Tchico too has glowing red eyes and is said to be an omen of death.
Finally, travel the Channel Islands and it’s not just scary phantom dogs you might see for other reports tell of further ghostly animals including pigs, a white horse, a young deer, a cat and even a “giant nanny goat”.
You can get a copy of Eerie Britain 1 & 2 by MB Forde at Amazon