Dressed in their finest period costumes, 22 talented men with exceptional clarity of speech came from far and wide to compete in one of Hastings’ oldest traditions - the National Town Criers Competition.
The 62nd Hastings National Town Criers Competition was held at Priory Meadow on Saturday, October 18 - the nearest Saturday to Hastings Day (October 14). Hosted by Hastings’ very own town crier, Jon Bartholomew, 21 town criers from around the country, along with one from Belgium competed for the coveted title.
Mr Bartholomew said the origins of this historic event date back nearly a hundred years.
He said: “This is certainly one of the oldest, if not the oldest, competitions to be held probably in the world and can trace its origins as far back as 1922, however only for the last 62 of those years has it been sponsored by Hastings Borough Council.”
At around 11am, on Saturday morning as the sun shone down, the 22 town criers entered Queens Square to do verbal battle, each hoping to outshine the others to achieve the accolade of Hastings National Champion.
The parade was led and subsequently hosted by Jon Bartholomew and wife Victoria, who also dressed in period costume.
Jon has been Hastings’ town crier for 16 years and is officially appointed by the council. Jon says though he is not allowed to enter the competition as he is the host crier, he does represent the town at other competitions nationally and internationally, recent winning at Yeovil in Somerset and Ooidonk in a Belgium/European competition.
To compete in last weekend’s competition, the criers were asked to write two cries. The first was called the home cry, in relation to respective home towns/cities. With the second afternoon cry, as this is the centenary year, it centred around the theme of the First World War.
Jon said: “The criers were introduced to the podium and cried to a panel of judges and of course the passing crowd. The judges were marking on volume, clarity, diction and inflection. And a judge for the best dressed crier and escort.
“The results were, as always very close.”