From the Town Hall: Man in green part of fabric of community
The spotlight this month is on Wells’ Town Crier, Len Sweales
Award-winning, theatre credit bearing, man of our city Len Sweales, our Town Crier and all round legend, has graced our streets for 17 years now.
Along the way he has won awards for his efforts including ‘Best Cry Content’ and ‘Best Dressed’ as well as winning the Town Crier Championship in Mells.
We may take him for granted but without him you would feel Wells Market was missing its sparkle. Whether it’s taking a cheeky selfie with him or hearing his rhythmic cries across the square, it is fair to say Len has fully established himself as a vital component in our community.
It isn’t just market day you can see him either, for Len is also part of our ceremonial traditions often witnessed at the Town Hall or even at St Cuthbert’s Church, he is there providing his usual chirpy conversation and welcoming personality.
A fond history surrounds the Town Crier, his green robes are a part of a clause made way back in 1662 where upon receipt of his wages, the Town Crier was also to receive ‘a good green great coat’, something that even some hundreds of years later is still an important tradition to maintain. It also meant his attire was in keeping with the green robes worn by the sergeants at mace, known to most of us as the mace bearers.
You often see these people walking at the head of a council procession, leading the way and wearing little black hats, a little like that of a pirate but with less of the attitude. Records also dated from this time show the delivery of the bell to the bellman.
Many have asked why we still hold these traditions dear to us, whether it is the role of the Town Crier or that of the mace bearer, but if you look at Wells and what it stands for, why would you want to take it away?
Wells is a place of great beauty and history, many tourists and locals alike enjoy the many wonders we have to offer and that includes listening to Len bellow his latest cry on market day. Even the Queen has met Len along with a whole host of big names including the cast of Hot Fuzz.
So don’t be part of the few who have not appreciated this wonderful treat we have in Wells, make sure you pop up to the market on Saturday, take in the wonderful smells and say hello to Len Sweales.