Moyenne is a small island of only 0.089 square kilometres, that was bought by Brendon Grimshaw in 1962 for 8,000 pounds. When Grimshaw died in 2012 he left the island to the national park, along with strict instructions that it must remain a national park and that no hotels may be built on the island. Moyenne, as the name suggests, is the middle island. It lies between St. Anne, Round and Long island, in the St. Anne Marine National Park.
The island was abandoned until Grimshaw purchased it and, while he lived there, he planted 16,000 trees as well as building 4.8 kilometres of natural paths. A sign warns visitors not to sit or lie under coconuts as they may fall, although the third eye of a coconut supposedly “sees” that no-one is underneath it when it drops.
Along the paths are signs advising visitors they are in ‘tortoise territory’. Despite another asking guests please not to feed the tortoises, these gentle giants approach passersby in hope of a few juicy leaves, which the rangers happily provide.
On the island is a small museum, where shells and plants are on display, along with various newspaper articles about Grimshaw.
“I love England – the pubs, the Dales, the steak and ale pies – I just can’t stand the English weather. In January 1962, I arrived in the Seychelles, and arranged for a boat to pick me up in a month’s time. Within 24 hours I was hopelessly in love – the climate was beautiful, the water was turquoise, the whole place was tropical. I wasn’t looking for a home, but I thought: “One day, I’ll have to put an anchor down. Why not here?”…I was just following my instincts, I wanted an island all to myself
For weeks I couldn’t find anything – then I heard about Moyenne just days before I was due to leave. It was half-a-mile in length, with two peaks, the highest reaching 201 feet. The owner, a French Seychellian, was reluctant to sell, but I invited him and his wife to dinner on the main island, Mahé. We sat on the beach under palm trees, had a few drinks, and finally, at four minutes to midnight on the last day of the holiday, we shook hands. For 8,000 pounds, I had become the eleventh owner of Moyenne – an uninhabitable waterless bush. For the next ten years, I resumed my career, working for Reuters, then as editor on a Tanzanian paper. In 1973, aged 48, I chucked it all in – the cocktail parties, the long lunches and late deadlines – and went to Moyenne to build a new life.
My mother was buried here in the island chapel, and after her death, my dad came to live here, aged 87, until he died at 92. I hope to die in Moyenne. There’s room for one more in the cemetery, and I can’t think of a more beautiful place to rest.”
Newspaper interview with Brendon Grimshaw in 1999
Further along the path is the Church of Saints, where the graves of Brendon Grimshaw and his father can be found. Alongside them are two graves marked ‘unhappily unknown’; it is believed that in these graves lie the bodies of two pirates. Inside the chapel are plaques dedicated to the memories of Grimshaw’s mother and his dog (Brendan’s second dog still lives on the island and is looked after by the rangers). Another plaque says “Moyenne Island – 600,000,000 years old but inhabited only since 1850″ and a list of the proprietors are etched underneath.
The island’s gift shop displays a very odd collection of items, from animal bones to old dolls’ heads, along with Brendan Grimshaw’s book, A Grain of Sand. The feeling inside the shop gives a sense of the island’s history and the tales of ghost stories and 30,000,000 pounds of pirates’ treasure that is supposed to be buried somewhere on the island.
Brendan Grimshaw would tell stories of banging noises on windows and doors, his bed being shaken in the night and trudge-trudge sounds as the “name”, as they are called in the Seychelles, marched from the cemetery to the old Creole villa and back again, usually around midnight but on odd occasions at mid-day. He also told of a voice urging him to go to Coral Cove, on the far side of the island, at four in the afternoon, when a turtle would come out of the sea to lay her eggs. Maybe this was when he really started to believe in ghosts, as the turtle emerged from the water at exactly four o’clock.
It was not only Grimshaw that experienced strange goings on. Around twenty years ago, a young girl living on Mahé had a dream in which she saw three graves (at this Brendon Grimshaw was still alive), a mango tree and treasure close by. The girl had never been to Moyenne, however her dream was not taken too seriously because the wife of the head-man of the island could not recall seeing a mango tree in the cemetery. However, it was soon discovered that there was a mango tree in the cemetery and, during heavy rains at the end of 1974, a small square of coral concrete as old as the graves became visible with the washing away of the soil and close to where the young girl said the treasure lay. When Grimshaw began digging, two coconuts fell the second his spade touched the square of concrete and he never again tried to solve the mystery of the treasure.
- Newspaper article displayed in the museum on Moyenne island
- Information provide by Variety Cruises