Herm is the smallest of the Channel Islands that is open to the public. Cars are banned from the small island just like its Channel Island neighbour, Sark. Unlike Sark, bicycles are banned too. However, Herm does allow quad bikes and tractors for the locals. The sandy white beaches make Herm a walker's paradise.
Herm won the 2002 Britain in Bloom competition in the 'Small Coastal Resort' category, despite not being part of the UK (it is in the Bailliwick of Guernsey).
Herm was occupied in prehistoric times; the remains of Neolithic chamber tombs have been found on the island.
The first records of Herm's inhabitants in historic times are from the sixth century, when the island became a centre of monastic activity; the name 'Herm' supposedly derives from hermits who settled there (although an alternative interpretation derives Herm from Norse erm referring to an arm-like appearance of the island). However, the monks suffered from the inclement Atlantic; in 709, a storm washed away the strip of land which connected the island with the small uninhabited island of Jethou.
The most important moment in Herm's political history was 933, when the Channel Islands were annexed to the Duchy of Normandy (they remain a British Crown dependency since the division of Normandy in 1204). After the annexation, Herm gradually lost its monastic inhabitants, and between 1570 and 1737 it was used as a hunting ground by the governors of Guernsey.
In the nineteenth century, industry arrived in Herm with the establishment of granite quarries to serve the large scale military fortifications undertaken in the islands. The island was let to tenants by the Crown and was generally off-limits to visitors. When Prince Blücher was tenant before the First World War, he introduced a colony of wallabies to the island. None now survive.
Between 1920 and 1923, the noted Scottish writer and founder of the Scottish National Party Compton Mackenzie was tenant of the island; among his best known works are The Monarch of the Glen and Whisky Galore.
Like the rest of the Channel Islands, Herm was formerly officially administered solely in the French language. It is presumed that, as in neighbouring islands, the population would have spoken a variety of Norman language, but no documentary evidence exists as to any distinctive dialectal features particular to the vernacular of Herm. The Norman language is extinct in Herm now. It was eroded mainly by neglect, and also settlers from England. However, a number of French/Norman placenames remain.