The Town Council are pleased to announce that Mrs Jane Smith has been appointed to the honorary role of Town Crier for Bognor Regis. Applicants to the role were interviewed at the Town Hall, by a panel comprising of Members and Officers from the Town Council, at which a trial cry was performed. Jane's inaugural appearance was at the Town Council organised 'A Drive Through Time' event held in West Park on Sunday 16th July 2017. History of Town Criers in the United Kingdom
The town crier, or bellman, can be traced back to medieval times when they were the main method used in communicating news with the people of the town, since many of them could neither read or write. Royal proclamations, local bylaws, market days, latest news and any other important information were all proclaimed by a town crier throughout the centuries. However, proclaiming the news was not their only role. Historically town criers also patrolled the streets at night, acting as peace keepers and arresting wrongdoers, whereupon the town crier would take these rogues to the stocks for punishment. Town criers were protected by law as anything they did was done in the name of the monarch and, therefore, to harm a town crier was considered treason. This was a necessary safeguard to protect the town crier who sometimes had to deliver unwelcome news such as tax increases. The saying "don't shoot the messenger" was a real command!
"Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!"
Usually seen carrying a large handbell, to attract people's attention, the town crier begins each cry with the words "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!". 'Oyez' (pronounced 'oh yay') comes from the French ouir ('to listen') and means "Hear ye". The cry would then end with the words 'God save the King' or 'God save the Queen'. Having read out the message to the townspeople, the town crier would then attach it to the door post of the local inn. The term 'posting a notice' comes from this act and is the reason why many newspapers are often called 'The Post'.