There was an interesting speaker at the Townswomen’s Guild (TG) the other week. It was Ken Knowles, Town Crier for Lichfield, one of our neighbouring cities. Ken was resplendent in his red outfit. He was a portly gent, just how I always pictured a town crier to be. When he arrived he walked into the room waving his big bell and shouting O-yez, O-yez. There was thunderous applause once we’d unplugged our ears.
Town criers used to be officers of the court who made public pronouncements as required. They could also make public announcements in the streets. Dating from the 28th century the criers dressed elaborately, in red or gold, with white breeches, black boots and a tricorne hat. They always carried a handbell in order to attract attention, and would cry O-yez, meaning ‘hear ye’ which was a call for silent attention.
However, times do change and the need for town criers disappeared. However, local councils reinstated the position for ceremonial purposes which I can honestly say are wonderful to watch. My Dad and I used to pop over to Lichfield to see the Lichfield Bower which was always held on the Spring Bank Holiday.
Here’s a piece about it, found in Wikipedia.
According to Ken there are now only fifteen criers in this country but they have a great time entering competitions for the best delivered speech. Our man had won several trophies, which he brought to show us.
|(The daffodil display is actually a recent trophies he won) |
Ken gave the most interesting and riveting talk, with plenty of humour interspersed, and I shall definitely be inviting him to talk to the WI next year.