A town crier is a person who is employed by a town council to make public announcements in the streets.

The crier can also be used in court or official announcements. Nowadays criers usually dress elaboratelyóby tradition only dating to the 18th century, in a red and gold robe, white breeches, black boots and a tricorne hatóbut dress has changed through the centuries.

A 1609 picture of the London bellman has standard Tudor dress with a circular brimmed hat, lamp, and staff or pike.
They carry a hand bell to attract people's attention, as they shout the words "Oyez, Oyez!" before making their announcements

Oyez! Oyez!
From old Law French (abolished by Act of Parliament in 1731) 'give hearing', often pronounced O yes, the court crier's call for silence deriving ultimately from Latin audiãtis.
The word "Oyez" now means "hear ye," which is a call for silence and attention.

In Medieval England, town criers were the chief means of news communication with the people of the town since many people could not read or write.
Royal proclamations, local bylaws, market days, adverts, even selling loaves of sugar were all proclaimed by a bellman or crier throughout the centuries.

Town criers were protected by the ruling monarch, as they sometimes brought bad news such as tax increases.

To this day, any Town Crier in the British Commonwealth is protected under old English law that they are not to be hindered or heckled while performing their duties.

To injure or harm a Town Crier was seen as an act of treason against the ruling monarchy.

A little known fact is that the term "Posting A Notice" actually comes from the act of the Town Crier, who having read his message to the Townspeople, would attach it to the door post of the local Inn or Tavern.

Criers were not always men. Many Town Criers were women. Bells were not the only attention getting device - in Holland, a gong was the instrument of choice for many, and in France they used a drum, or a hunting horn.
In Europe as in England, town criers were the chief means of news communication with the people of the town, since many people could not read or write.

Proclamations, local bylaws, market days, adverts, were all proclaimed by a bellman or crier throughout the centuries.

As the practical use of the town crier has disappeared, the function became part of the local folklore

As I have now been in office for a year, I would like to thank Wareham Town Council for the opportunity to carry out the duties of town crier.

I have had an eventful year with two different mayors. I have accompanied the Mayors on various occasions including their fund raising events, such as a Ball at the Springfield Hotel, welcoming the guests, and at a Thomas Hardy evening. I appeared in an 'Evening of Bloody Rubbish' where I rang a bell with no clanger (until the end of the evening, when I could ring the bell with gusto).

Christmas Day I accompanied the Mayor and Mayoress on a visit to the hospital, Anglebury Court and the Parish Hall to meet those less fortunate than ourselves.
The civic duties entailed my heading the civic and remembrance parades which was quite a daunting task, but also humbling, when I think of how long the traditions have been carried out.

Also accompanying the Wareham Mayor at the Beating of the Bounds in Poole Harbour was an experience.

I have 'cried' many Saturday mornings in Wareham, and have had great pleasure in talking to visitors and residents alike, and in 'spreading the word'.

The weekly banter between the market traders and myself have become an eventful feature of my cries.

I have also represented Wareham at various competitions, in Blandford, Frome, Yeovil and Lyme Regis, and have met many town criers, who have given me encouragement and advice.
Next year I plan to attend the Dorset championship, the Guild championship in Alcester, and the European championship in Holland.

The Wareham Carnival procession and the Father Christmas procession saw me out again in all my glory, and were very much more relaxed occasions and thus enjoyable.

I am always willing to attend any event which may call for a 'loud announcement' and maybe to add a bit of colour. Either call Wareham Town Hall, or email me:

Dave Wheatley