Many travelers arriving in Guernsey via cruise ship have the same question: Where can they find the locations referenced in the best-selling novel and hit film, "The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society"?
Fans of the book and movie (known as GLAPPPS for short) will be thrilled to know there are numerous GLAPPPS-themed excursions offered by cruise lines visiting Guernsey and by independent tour guides, such as Gill Girard (who escorted the film's director Mike Newell, around the island).
However, not a single scene from the movie was filmed on the island. It was all shot in South West England due to the tricky logistics of filming on Guernsey. (The one exception is of the fortification seen from the beach, but the beach is not on Guernsey.) But both the book and the movie mention numerous real places, which visitors are able to see.
Although the book's characters are not real, the events described in the book are. The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles that were occupied during World War II, from 1940 to 1945, and Hitler saw Guernsey as a bridgehead for a planned invasion of England, just 27 miles away. So, he set about fortifying the island, bringing in 7,000 POW slave laborers from Europe, who built more than 1,000 bunkers around the island's 42-mile coastline.
The film (and the book) do not shy away from the horrors endured by the POWs. Key scenes interweave the fictional characters with the real struggles of wartime Guernsey, including when Elizabeth tries to save the starving slave boy toward the end.
We paid a visit to Guernsey to follow in the footsteps of Juliet, Dawsey, Isola, Amelia, Eben, Eli, Elizabeth and Kit to find out more about the home of the Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society.
The Ship & Crown is where Juliet first sets eyes on Dawsey -- and almost gets knocked out by falling tiles. It is set right on the main harbor road; you can see it from where you debark from the tender. The Ship & Crown is, in fact, not a hotel, as it is in the book, but a pub and restaurant, and was used as German Naval HQ during WWII. In the film, the hotel is set back from the harbor front; in St. Peter Port, it is set right on the harbor.
Today, you can get a great fish 'n' chips and a pint of beer, and on the walls you'll find some wonderful archive pictures from the occupation. Some of the photos reference Liberation Day on the islands, an important date in the novel and real life, which occurred May 9, 1945 -- a day after peace was declared in Europe.
Guernsey's High Street was made famous in the scene from the film when the Nazis march down the street and Elizabeth runs out and shouts "Shame!" in their face, before being pulled away by Dawsey. The street was recreated on a set, but the actual buildings are still here. You can stand at that point where this historical photo (displayed in the Ship & Crown) was taken and still see the Lloyds Bank and the Boots the Chemist behind.
The GLAPPPS movie poster shows a stunning backdrop of the Guernsey coastline, with Lily James in the foreground. While this scene doesn't actually appear in the film, visitors can get the same view by journeying to Icart Point, a promontory west of Jerbourg Point and east of the beautiful beach of Petit Port. It's a beautiful place to visit, with a great clifftop walk. See if you can find the point on the cliffs where you can look back to Petit Port and Jerbourg, and capture the same scenic shot that's on the movie poster. All the GLAPPPS tours will take you here.
One from the book (rather than the movie), Calais Lane is where Dawsey and Juliet walk on their way from Mrs. Maugery's house to Le Bouvee, Dawsey's farmhouse, after the first meeting of the Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. You're unlikely to recognize anything other than the name though.
Le Bouvee is the name of Dawsey's farmhouse, and you can pass by a house with the same name on Guernsey. However, this building is not a farm; nor does it appear in the film. It is likely that author Mary Ann Shaffer spotted the name during her short time on the island (she was famously stranded here by fog and used the time waiting for her flight to wander around the island) and used it for the farm.
This bunker is featured in a scene when Juliet and Dawsey are walking along a beach, which Dawsey jokes is heavily mined. While L'Angle, or MP4, is on Guernsey, the beach itself is not (so there was a bit of camera trickery involved to film that scene). The bunker is one of more than 1,000 bunkers that Hitler built on Guernsey's coastline while fortifying the island as part of his strategic plan during the war.
Updated November 21, 2019