Forget The Voice - Marlborough is hosting The Cry
Marlborough is hosting its very own talent contest for human foghorns.
The town council is looking for a new town crier, following the retirement of popular oyez-er Alfie Johnson – who was also Beadle and Ale Taster – after 20 years of service.
Budding criers will have the chance to hone their skills at a workshop during the morning, before facing the judges – who may or may not be sitting backwards on swivel chairs – in the afternoon.
Alfie Johnson, Royal Wootton Bassett town crier Owen Collier, mayor Margaret Rose, and mayor elect Noel Barrett-Morton will be judging.
The workshop and competition will be held at Marlborough Town Hall on Saturday, February 27 from 2pm.
The winner gets a uniform, a bell, and a small honorarium (which we think means cash). The successful candidate should probably also insist on getting the Ale Taster job.
Marlborough has had a town crier since at least 1204. David Chandler’s A History of Marlborough refers to entries in the Borough accounts showing payments to the Town Crier for crying the donkey not to run on the Green, whipping two visitors for the crimes of stealing a shirt and telling a lie to the Mayor.
He was also paid for crying the cows not to run the streets by night.
In 1913 the national Town Cryer’s competition was held in Marlborough, which made for a lovely photograph on the Town Hall steps and – presumably – a very noisy event.
These days, the role is ceremonial – with very little whipping involved, if any at all.
“It is a high profile, honorary position and helps to retain a slice of heritage,” says the council.