When: 14th July 2012
Where: Great Dunmow, Essex, England
£: Tickets for the 10:30am trial are £5 and the 2pm & 7pm trials tickets are £16 and £12.
What is it?
The Dunmow Flitch Trials are a unique local custom, held every four years. This custom, said to date back as far as 1104, attracts couples who’ve been married for at least a year and a day to prove they are happily married and claim a Flitch of Bacon.
The Flitch Trials origins are said to come from the then Lord of the Manor and his wife who visited the local Prior a year and a day after marriage in order to seek his blessing. The Prior was impressed by their devotion and gave them a Flitch of Bacon. The Lord of the Manor decided to give his land to the Priory and in return a Flitch of Bacon (side of unsliced bacon) was then awarded to anyone who could similarly prove their devotion.
Over time the custom lapsed, however, since the end of WWII there have been trials held regularly every four years. The modern-day trials consist of a court with a judge and jury made up of Jury of 6 maidens and 6 bachelors, as well as an usher to keep order and a clerk of the court. Just like a real court there is a counsel that represents the couple and an opposing counsel which represents the bacon. Each couple is tried for about 45 minutes and should aim to convey to the unmarried Jury what it feels like to be in love or what a first kiss with a true love feels like. Not an easy task!
Those who are successful get the pleasure of being carried shoulder-high on the Flitch Chair to the Market Place where they take an oath. Those who fail to convince the court however must walk behind the empty chair to the market place and receive the consolation prize of gammon. This year the trials will have a new custom-built Flitch Chair, which has been hand-made in Yorkshire, by 20-year-old furniture student Jake Coleman. The original carved oak carrying chair is still preserved in Little Dunmow Priory.
More info: www.dunmowflitchtrials.co.uk