The History of England

from Celts through 20th century


Category: Customs + Festivals

Disregarding all the news of the press, handbills, posters, loudspeakers, radio and television many towns and smaller localities still cling to their official town criers for certain announcements.

Town criers from all parts of the country gather at Hastings, Sussex, in August in hope of carrying off the greatly coveted National Town Criers’ Championship. For the contest the criers wear their traditional ceremonial uniforms and carry their handbells. A procession headed by the Hastings Band marches to an arena where the Mayor, members of the town council and civic officials assemble for a march. A fanfare of trumpets introduces each town crier in turn.

To enable the judges to determine who possesses the most powerful and carrying voice the competitors are rowed to a small island about 75 yards across the water. From this little island they one by one make their “Oyez!’’ ‘‘Oyes!’’ cries and declaim a 150-word test piece. In the judging the bearing and sartorial smartness of the competitor is taken into account.

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