An ancient trial will soon take place in Dunmow, and if you can prove to the court to be a happily married couple, then the court will award you an entire flitch of bacon.
The story goes that in 1104, the Lord of the Manor, Reginald Fitzwalter and his wife dressed themselves as humble folk and begged blessing of the Prior at the local Priory a year and a day after their marriage.
Impressed by their fealty, the Prior awarded them a Flitch of Bacon.
Lord Fitzwalter then gave his land to the Priory on the condition a Flitch should be awarded to any couple who could claim they were similarly devoted.
(The problem that a lord could never have impersonated a serf in the 12th century due to the massive differences in language and accent shall be overlooked on the grounds of not wanting to risk a lot of bacon going to waste)
What’s a flitch of bacon?
A flitch of bacon — is basically half a pig cut sideways — it’s where all those bacon slices come from in shops. That’s a lot of bacon today, and back then, a fortune for the devoted couple to be awarded.
The Dunmow Flitch Trials have taken place on and off for nearly 900 years, and now take place every fourth year. Next year in fact, on the 11th July 2020.
Why am I mentioning it today then?
For married couples to be put on trial, they need to apply, and that application process opens… today.
The modern Trials take the form of a court presided over by a Judge, with Counsel representing the claimants and Opposing Counsel representing the donors of the Flitch of Bacon, together with a Jury of 6 maidens and 6 bachelors, a Clerk of the Court to record the proceedings and an Usher to maintain order.
If the couple can prove to the court that ‘twelvemonth and a day’, they have ‘not wisht themselves unmarried again’, then they are carried shoulder-high in the ancient Flitch Chair to the Market Place where they are awarded their giant slab of meat.
If you think you can prove to a court that you are a happily married couple, and you like to eat a lot of bacon, then to apply to be put on trial – go here.
Tickets to observe the Dunmow Flitch Trials will go on sale in January 2020.
Location map and local interesting places
- 2] Hatfield Forest
- 3] Grange Barn
- 4] Paycocke's House and Garden
- 5] Danbury Commons and Blakes Wood
- 6] Northey Island
- 7] Melford Hall
- 8] Copt Hall Marshes
- 9] Prior's Hall Barn
- 10] Audley End House and Gardens
- 11] Hill Hall
- 12] Duxford Chapel
- 13] Waltham Abbey Gatehouse and Bridge
- 14] Lexden Earthworks and Bluebottle Grove