Haunting Hounds: The Black Dog of Bouley

Bouley Bay, a picturesque harbour on the north coast of Jersey, is well-reputed for being the perfect place for a day-time stroll. As night draws in, however, if local legend is to be believed, you would do best to be as far away as possible…

A ghostly hound is said to haunt the area: large and black, with huge saucer-shaped eyes, in some versions of the tale, he has the addition of terror-inducing long, sharp teeth. There have been many reports of the Dog of Bouley, or Le Tchan du Bouole as it is locally known, throughout the centuries, and he is often said to be a warning of an approaching storm. Dragging his chain behind him, he prowls through the bay at night, the noise so terrifying that those hearing it are frozen where they stand. Closing in on his prey, the spectre then proceeds to run round his victim, increasing in speed as he goes. What happened next is unrecorded, but the petrified person is discovered huddled on the ground, frozen and speechless with shock.  

Although there is no record of the dog doing any harm to its victims, it is safe to say that it is not an experience someone would want to repeat!   

Bouley Bay has a long history, and a port has been in evidence there since at least 1274. One explanation for the legend of the dog is that it was invented by smugglers using the bay, in an attempt to keep curious locals from inadvertently stumbling across their business. 

Another more improbable yet fascinating theory regarding the dog’s origin was put forward by the Jersery folklorist, John L’Amy. L’Amy suggested a connection between the Tchan and the French emigres that came to Jersey to escape the Revolution. They were apparently well known for playing tricks, and he posits that one might have dressed up as a dog in order to scare the locals; with “Tchan” being a corruption of “Chouan” as the emigres were known, so a legend was born.  

Whatever the origin of the tale, today, visitors can enjoy a walk around the bay, followed by a meal at the Black Dog Pub. Don’t tarry too late however, as it is still said that a sighting of the Dog of Bouley will come before a storm… 

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