Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! Uckfield’s Town Crier

In April 2018, we were delighted to announce the appointment of Mr. Ian Bedwell as the new Uckfield Town Crier.

Mr. Bedwell is known for his incredibly loud cries of ‘Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!’ and has been involved in countless community events since taking up the role.

Town Criers have historically played an important role within town centres by providing public announcements on behalf of the local council and key organisations.

The role of Town Crier is a prestigious role within the town, and Mr. Bedwell takes on this voluntary position to assist with the communication of key dates and events in the town’s calendar.

If you would like the Town Crier to help announce your key activity or event, please get in touch with the Town Council through will@uckfieldtc.gov.uk, or call 01825 762774.

There is a nominal fee of £25 for any event the Town Crier promotes or attends.

The Town Crier

Town Crier History

The role of Town Crier is hugely historic and is synonymous with towns up and down the United Kingdom, as well as many other countries.

In the UK and abroad, a network of Town Criers is maintained by the Ancient & Honourable Guild of Town Criers. Their website can be found here: https://www.ahgtc.org.uk/

Historically, town criers – or Bellmen as they were sometimes called – were sources of community news. The first town criers were the Spartan Runners in the early Greek Empire and as the Roman Conquest spread through Europe, the position increased in importance until it became a position of the court.

Town criers were particularly important when most of the population was illiterate. Though their origin is much older, the position was formalised after the Norman Conquest of 1066.

Two bellmen appear in the Bayeux Tapestry of 1066, which is the first widely recognised depiction of Town Criers in British history.

Their original role was to patrol the streets by night, acting as peacekeepers and arresting miscreants before taking them to the stocks for punishment. It was also their job to make sure fires were damped down after the curfew bell.

Town Criers were also present at public hangings, where they would read out why the person was being hanged, and then help cut him or her down.


The voice of authority

The key requirements of the Town Crier role were the ability to read, a loud voice, and an air of authority.

Their world-famous call of ‘Oyez’ (pronounced ‘oh yay’) comes from the French ‘ouïr’ (‘to listen’) and means ‘Hear ye’.

The town crier would begin his cry with these words, accompanied by the ringing of a large handbell to attract attention. It was the job of the crier or bellman to inform the townspeople of the latest news, proclamations, bylaws, and any other important information, as at this time most folk were illiterate and could not read.

The cry would then end with the words, ‘God save the King’ or ‘God save the Queen’.


Modern history

Town Criers and bellmen were largely phased out in the early 20th Century – in part because of the growth of local newspapers and literacy rates – but the position has been revived by councils all over Britain since the 1970s.

When the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers (AHGTC) was founded in 1978, it had about 20 members. It now has more than 130 and continues to grow.

Today’s town criers are dressed to impress in an ornate coat, breeches, boots, and a tricorne hat, a tradition that dates back to the 18th century. You can find them at local fetes, events, and at town crier competitions.

The AHGTC also hosts several friendly Guild Competitions each year, with each Town Crier competing to be voted the best.

Responsive site designed and developed by