Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!
Hear ye – Town Criers affiliated to the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers gathered in Oxford this Saturday for a competition to celebrate Her Majesty the Queens Diamond Jubilee. 12 Town Criers and their escorts took part in the competition in the historic setting of Oxford Castle. In medieval England, town criers were the chief means of news communication with the townspeople, since many were illiterate. Royal proclamations, local bylaws, market days and adverts were all announced by a crier throughout the centuries. Nowadays many are honorary appointments or employed part time by local councils who mainly perform duties at civic functions and charity events.
Criers are judged on three categories by judges positioned at increasing distances away from the crier, a) for confidence & bearing, b) diction & inflection, and c) sustained volume & clarity. With two cries each, it was Ken Knowles of Lichfield, Staffordshire (pictured in the red jacket below) who scored the most points to take the prize for the best crier. Writing their own crys, rules dictate they must be between 100 and 125 words long, including the three oyez’s, and God Save The Queen. Judges are given a copy, and for each word omitted or added from the original script, points are deducted. Prizes were also awarded for the best written cry and the best costumes.
So, in keeping with the spirit of the event, and the Jubilee celebrations, there’s little left for me to say but…
God Save The Queen.