Today, July 10, is officially International Town Criers Day – a day that hold significance here in Chester.
The commemorative occasion has now been celebrated for over a quarter of a century since it was founded by Canadian crier Scott Fraser back in 1997. Fraser established the official day to achieve recognition and attention to the importance of the role he performed in Ontario. Ever since, the occasion has been celebrated each year in July on an early Monday in the month, encouraging people across the world to pay tribute for the profession and its place in history.
In the times before many people achieved literacy, town criers also known as “bellmen” worked to ensure people stayed up to date on the latest news and events, with live proclamations announced alongside bell ringing to gain attention.
Here in the UK, Chester is the only place to have maintained the tradition of holding regular proclamations at midday at a set place. Chester’s current Town Crier is the award-winning David Mitchell, who is well-known for his appearances on national television and radio. He has also appeared in films on the big screen, like “24 Hour Party People” featuring comedian and actor Steve Coogan.
Mitchell also stars in a one-man show, called ‘For Crying Out Loud!’, which has seen him perform in theatres in Epsom and Eastbourne, along with here in his home city.
While you won’t be able to witness Chester’s town crier in action on the official date, as proclamations never take place on a Monday, you can honour the occasion tomorrow at noon by the Chester Cross.