Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for ENGLISH CHANNEL

ENGLISH CHANNEL, the belt of sea which extends between England and France. It was called by the Romans Oceanus Britannicus; and is called by the French La Manche. It connects, at the strait of Dover, with the German ocean; and, at Land's End and Roches de Porçal, with the Atlantic. Its general direction is from ENE¼E to WSW¼W; its length is 280 miles; its least width, at the strait of Dover, is 18 miles; its greatest width, from Sidmouth to St. Malo, is 128 miles; its average width is about 70 miles; its width at Land's End is 97 miles; and its area is about 23, 900 geographical square miles. It washes the coasts of Kent, Sussex, Hants, Dorset, Devon, and Cornwall; and contains the Isle of Wight, the Scilly islands, and the Channel islands. Its depth, at the strait, is from 12 to 30 fathoms, but decreases there at the Varne and the Ridge banks, to 4 and 1½ fathoms; and its depth thence, for the most part, gradually increases to 60 fathoms, but is varied by banks off Boulogne to only 3 or 5 fathoms, and by several depressions to 70 or 100 fathoms. Its bottom, at the strait, is a ridge of chalk; and elsewhere generally coarse gravel. The English coast of it measures about 390 miles; contains good harbours at Portsmouth, Plymouth, Falmouth, and other places; and has lights at Dunge Ness, Beachy Head, Owers, Bembridge, the Needles, St. Alban's Head, Portland, Start Point, Eddystone, the Lizard, Longships, and Seven Stones. The French coast measures about 510 miles; contains a tolerable haven at Havre, and a great fortified one at Cherbourg; and has lights at Cape Grisnez, Cayeux, La Heve, Dieppe, Barfleur, Cherbourg, La Hogue, the Caskets, Frekel, Heaux de Brehat, Isle Bas, and Ushant. The inshore depths, on the English side, are noticed in our articles on the harbours and other localities; and the coast formation, as to headlands, rocks, and other features, is noticed in our articles on the counties.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Administrative units: England Dep
Place: England

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