About Crying

The roots of shouting go back even to ancient Greek times when it was useful in battle situations and became an event at the original Olympics. The most famous public speaker was called Stentor and his name has been passed down to describe someone loud as having a Stentorian voice.

The arrival of the Normans in England in 1066 introduced very efficient ways of administering this newly conquered land (such as recording land use in the Domesday Book) and the King sent his orders throughout the land by a system of messengers who briefed the local representative who shouted the orders to the assembled populace. These town criers were the King’s representative and protected by his authority. It is still a capital offence to interfere with the town Crier going about his duties.In those days, few people were able to read and write so the Town Crier was one of the few means to receive news from the outside world. By the end of the 19th century, education & newspapers had become universal and the role of Town Crier became more ceremonial.

Today there are Town Criers in most towns and they carry on an ancient tradition in a more informal manner but retain the custom of carrying a bell with which to announce their cry which always begins with the cry “Oyez, oyez, oyez” and end with “God save the Queen”. The uniform is usually (but not always) based on a period of late 1700s with a tricorn hat and short breeches.

Swanage Town Crier uniform was worn by previous town crier, Derek Fincham and the bell inscribed with his name. The tricorn hat that I now wear is topped by a swan (made by my mother) with real feathers from Abbotsbury Swannery

Swanage Town Crier Blog