Every fourth year, for hundreds of years, a “trial” has taken place to judge if married couples are happy, and if they are, they can claim a huge slab of bacon.

This is the Dunmow Flitch Trials, of ancient, if admittedly, somewhat dubious heritage.

The trial takes place whenever there’s a Leap Year, but the last trial took place just two years ago after being delayed by that damned thing, so they reset the clock as 2024 is also a Leap Year.

It’s actually a light-hearted English custom which is run akin to a formal legal trial, with humour, and anyone can attend the trial to watch the festivities.

In the “courtroom”, the married couple will be challenged by the lawyer for the bacon and defended by the lawyer for the claimant. After the trial, a jury of locals will decide if the married couple are worthy of taking home enough bacon to feed a family for a month — or a small serving of gammon.

It’s one of those crazy, slightly bonkers things to attend, where you will see lots of people in official robes parading a huge slab of bacon through a small market town, Morris Dancers waving handkerchiefs while minstrels play music, and a Town Cryer makes loud proclamations.

This year’s Flitch Trial will take place on Saturday 13th July 2024, with three sessions to choose from. There’s one trial in the morning (the tickets are cheaper) and two in each of the the afternoon and evening sessions.

Tickets are on sale here.

When I attended in 2022, the event took place in a marquee, but this year it will be in Foakes Hall on the main street. There’s usually a fete to wander around, and the town is small but pretty.

Getting to Great Dunmow

If you don’t drive, then the easiest way of getting to the trial is to catch the train to Stanstead Airport, and from there, choose from three bus routes that can take you to Great Dunmow.

There’s the Arriva bus route 133 or First Bus route X20 and X30 – and the bus trip is about 20-25 minutes.

Each bus route is hourly, but between them the buses leave Stansted Airport fairly regularly.

If you fancy it, you can also walk along the disused remains of a railway — the appropriately named Flitch Way. Weather permitting, I’d recomend the bus to the trial, and walking back.

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One comment
  1. John Stanley says:

    Ian, Actually it will be held as normal in a large marquee located close to Foakes Hall.
    Thank you.

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