The collective term for a group of town criers is a 'bellow'.... although some uncharitable wags have wondered whether it should be a 'headache'.

And their combined voices certainly created a cacophony of noise in the centre of Watton, where a national competition to crown the country's best town crier was held.

The contest - the first one ever held in the town - involved eight men and women from across the UK.

It was organised by Watton's own crier Mike Wabe, with Watton Town Council, and saw Middle Street closed for the day, on Saturday, June 18, as those involved proclaimed across the centre of the town.

Criers gave two themed 'cries' - one on their home town and the other answering ‘what women wish men knew’ or 'what men wish women knew'.

Each cry started with 'Oyez!, Oyez!, Oyez!' and ended with 'God save the Queen!'.

In his cry on the second theme, Adrian Holmes, from Sandwell in the Black Country, said: "Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!...What men wished women knew.

"Needing alone time does not mean we hate you.

"Not answering does not mean we do not care."

And Robert Needham, from Colchester, answered the question more simply. He said, simply: "I know nothing".

Judges from Watton Town Council said the competition was "tight" and crowned Mr Holmes the overall winner. He was also named 'best ambassador' for town crying.

Paul Gough, from Nuneaton and Bedworth, took second place and Mr Needham came third.

He was also voted the ‘best themed cry’, while the ‘best home town cry’ went to John Griffiths of Sleaford.

Mr Wabe said: “It’s been a real pleasure to welcome my fellow criers to Watton.

"They have given us a fantastic show and it was great to see that this ancient tradition is still going strong.”

Watton mayor Sue Hebborn, who awarded the prizes, said: “The town council is so pleased to have Mike as our town crier and greatly value the support that he gives to events and activities in the town throughout the year.

"We were very happy to work with him to support our first Watton Town Crier Competition.”

Sue Dent, events and projects support officer at the town council, said she enjoyed the town criers' different takes on how they say 'oyez!'.

Local businesses and groups also supported the event including H.Brett & Son, Broom Hall Country Hotel, MrJ Cars, the Kings Arms and 864 Squadron RAF Cadets.


This is an Anglo-Norman phrase derived from the imperative form of the archaic French word ouïr (now replaced by entendez or écoutez) and means ‘Hear ye!’.

Criers used it with a bell (they were also known as bellmen) to attract attention and make sure people listened to important proclamations.