What a glorious day in so many ways. The sun was out and Wimborne was looking its best when Town Criers from all over the South of England converged to make a lot of noise to compete for the coveted title of Champion Town Crier of Southern England.
The day began with Town Criers and Escorts in their splendid costumes assembling at Church House to be joined by The Dorset Youth Marching Band to parade through the town. When the reached Willow walk the criers paused to enjoy an excellent display by these fantastically gifted young people. From there they processed to Mill Lane for photos by one of the sponsors Minster Press, back to The Minster Green for the competition’s first round. Prior to this getting underway The Wimborne Militia fired a volley of musket to scour the town of any evil spirits that may be lurking to spoil the day followed by a “benchmark” cry to give the judges something to base their scoring upon by the Pamphill & Shapwick Town Crier & Serjant of Musket, Melvin Gudger.
The 17 Town Criers then proclaimed greetings from their respective towns to the people of Wimborne and extolled the virtues of their home towns encouraging you to visit them and sample their delights.
The afternoon cry was to be a proclamation of the Criers own choice and their was a great variety of themes. The large and enthusiastic crowd heard some very amusing tales and ones of patriotism and the many glories of our land.
This competition was very close and the judges had their work cut out but finally winners emerged and were invited to receive their trophies from The Mayor & Mayoress. The results:
Champion Town Crier: Andrew Fleming of Swanage
Runner Up: Ken Knowles of Lichfield
Third place: David Craner of Crewkerne and Beaminster
The costumes were judged by Eileen Carter who is the Honorary Keeper of Costumes Priests House Museum and their were some truly magnificent works to be admired.
Best Dressed Town Crier was David Craner of Crewkerne and Beaminster who was wearing a Bellman of the Tudor period costume which glittered in the bright sunshine very beautifully.
Best Dressed Escort was awarded to Melanie Knapp of Sturminster Newton and together with her husband Kevin they won the Best dressed Couple prize. Melanie made both their intricate and colourful costumes from scratch and is clearly a master seamstress and well deserved winner.
Their then followed a very noisy “Bells Up’ where all the Criers rang their bells as one. The Militia Muskets did the trick, keeping the day free of blemish and a large and enthusiastic audience enjoyed this wonderful pageant of colour history and tradition. This was a day of joy, humour and presenting Wimborne at its very best. The day concluded with Cllr John Burden, Mayor of Wimborne thanking the Criers and Escorts for their fine spectacle and informing them that The Ancient & Honourable Guild of Town Criers will always be welcome in Wimborne Minster.