Suffolk town Clare calls for first crier in 300 years

Paul Gough
Image caption Today's town criers wear 18th Century-style clothing - as could be seen at The Loyal Company of Town Criers British Championships in August

A small town is calling for the owner of "powerful lungs" to be its first town crier in more than 300 years.

Clare in Suffolk, which has been crier-less since 1711, is advertising for a person to fill the unpaid role, which would be a "focus for civil pride".

It is seeking someone with "a genuine love of history and tradition", and a knowledge of Clare and nearby villages is preferable but not essential.

The new town crier will be in place for Christmas, it is hoped.

Tony Litton, from the town council, said: "It's got to be somebody with a good strong voice and powerful lungs, obviously."

He said the council felt "Clare underplays its history", adding: "We wanted a town crier as a visible symbol of the rich history of the town.

"They've got to enjoy being a showman or show-woman, good with crowds and an empathy with history."

Image copyright Geograph/John Myers
Image caption Clare Town Council wants a crier to be "a visible symbol of the rich history of the town"

What are town criers?

  • The role dates back to the Norman invasion: two bellmen appear in the Bayeux Tapestry
  • Their job was to tell townspeople the latest news, proclamations and bylaws, while ringing a large handbell
  • They were protected by law, as they spoke in the name of the monarch
  • Their traditional cry is "Oyez!", which comes from the French to listen and means "Hear ye"
  • Their cry always ends "God save the Queen!"

Source: The Loyal Company of Town Criers

Clare is the smallest town in Suffolk, with just over 2,000 residents.

Mr Litton called it a "gentle town with a very big period feel", with houses ranging from medieval through to Tudor and Georgian.

The role will be voluntary but an annual "token" sum of £10.50, the equivalent of 10 guineas in old money, will be given to the successful applicant.

The new recruit would be expected to carry out between six and 12 engagements each year and interviews are expected to take place later this month.

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