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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Town Criers in Britain

People wandering around in period costume have become an increasingly frequent sight in tourists towns up and down the UK. Roman soldiers in Chester, Georgian ladies in Bath and this town crier pictured in Dorchester with an American tourist.


Town criers or bellmen were elaborately-dressed officials who read out pronouncements required by law courts as well as other general news to local townspeople such as market days, advertisements and news of the birth or deaths of royalty and important people. Town criers carried a bell and shouted out "Oyez! Oyez!" to grab people's attention. As most people in medieval times, when the practice is thought to have begun, were illiterate, a town crier was essential to pass on news to the townsfolk.

Over 140 towns in Britain now have a registered town crier including Chester and Kingston-upon-Thames.

Other places of interest in Dorchester include Hardy's Cottage in Higher Bockhampton, the Wessex author's birthplace, and Max Gate, where Hardy lived in later life.

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