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Hastings National Town Crier's Championship

Town criers compete to be best in Britain

Standing before a throng of busy shoppers in Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, John Bartholomew, the town crier of Hastings, adjusted his tricorne hat, cleared his throat and .....

The noise generated by an accomplished crier can reach 120 decibels – roughly what you hear when a fighter jet takes off, or from the front row of a rock concert.

And this is merely the introduction to the National Town Crier Championship, held in Hastings.  In what we like to think of the communications age, the crier might seem like a relic of the past, but for the men and women in buckles and knee breeches, business is – literally – booming.

Unfortunately, it isn't enough only to be loud. Contestants are also judged on their diction, clarity, inflection, and standard of dress.

A valid cry must begin with the traditional "Oyez, oyez, oyez!" – and end with the National Anthem. Most criers further preface their announcements with a peal on a hand bell, although horns, trumpets and even rattles are permitted.

In medieval Britain, criers were the nation's newscasters. Dispatches from foreign wars, by-laws, judicial rulings, important proclamations, even advertisements, were issued forth by men whose status was soon indicated by the fine livery they wore, and, the unique royal protection they enjoyed.

It was a part of the crier's job to deliver bad news such as tax rises, and the closing of bawdy houses, and to this day it remains an offence to "hinder or heckle" a town crier as he goes about his business.

This year’s championship, which is the 65th, takes place on Saturday 14 October

History of the Town Crier

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