Oyez, oyez, oyez Kingston has a town crier again

Kingston's Town Crier

After an eight year silence, the call of Kingston’s town crier can be heard once more, ringing out across the borough to command our attention and spread important news.

The appointment was made by the Mayor, Deputy Lieutenant and High Steward, who were looking for candidates that lived within the borough, were of notable standing, and had strong links with the community. Satisfying all three criteria, the honour of this ceremonial role has been bestowed upon Michael Seigel, a former headmaster at Rokeby School.

Michael has lived in the borough for over 33 years and has record of community involvement dating back just as far. He is currently Chair of the Kingston Tour Guides and was the first Chair of the Canbury Area Residents Association (CARA) established in 1991.

Speaking about his appointment, Mr Seigel, said: 

“It’s wonderful to see the return of this ancient tradition and I’m honoured to be a part of its continuation. I’m already a proud ambassador of our historic Royal Borough so I’m really excited about putting on my ceremonial dress and taking to the streets with my bell.

The position of town crier was originally that of ‘Crier of the Town Court’ and dates back to medieval times. ‘Oyez’ (pronounced ‘oh yay’) means “hear ye”. The town crier would begin his cry with these words, accompanied by the ringing of a large hand bell to attract attention. It was the job of the crier or bellman to inform the townspeople of the latest news, proclamations, bylaws and any other important information, as at this time most folk were illiterate and could not read.

Besides proclaiming the news, it was commonplace for a town crier to carry out other essential duties. They were known to patrol the streets after dark, acting as peacekeepers and escorting people to the stocks, and making sure fires were damped down for the night after the curfew bell.

Kingston did away with its town crier in 1914 but it was re-established in 1984 by the present Royal Borough and combined with the position of tipstaff.

Today, Mr Seigel’s duties will centre around supporting the borough’s civic and community events and strengthening ties to Kingston’s historic past.

To request his attendance at your event contact the Mayor’s Office via [email protected]