Dunmow Flitch Trial

Dunmow Flitch Trial

Every four years in July (2012, 2016, 2020...)
The custom of awarding a flitch of bacon ("flitch" refers to the side of a hog) to any married pair who have neither regretted their union nor quarrelled for a year and a day since their wedding dates back to the 13th century in England. The trial formerly took place on Whit-Monday, but these days it is held every four years in July. Robert Fitzwater instituted the practice during the reign of King Henry III (1216-72), although in the beginning the flitch of bacon was only given to men, since a "happy marriage" at the time was defined as one that was satisfactory to the husband. The wife's views on the success of her marriage were not considered until the beginning of the 18th century.
While kneeling on two sharp stones in the churchyard, the applicant had to take an oath before the prior and villagers of Dunmow that he had never repented of his marriage, waking or sleeping, for a year and a day. If they believed him, he would be carried through the streets in an ancient wooden chair. Given the fact that there were only three prizewinners between 1445 and 1510, it must be assumed that the standard to which the applicants were held was very high.
Today, claimants for the Dunmow Flitch are required to answer questions about their marriage at a mock trial, presided over by a judge. A jury consisting of six spinsters and six bachelors gives the verdict, and the proceedings are usually lighthearted, although there are always some genuine candidates for the flitch as well as those who only take part for amusement.
CONTACTS:
Official Dunmow Flitch Trials Committee
Dunmow Flitch Judge
28 High St.
Great Dunmow, Essex CM6 1AH United Kingdom
44-13-7187-2816; fax: 44-13-7187-2324
www.dunmowflitchtrials.co.uk
Dunmow Town Strategy Group
Foakes House
47 Stortford Rd.
Great Dunmow, Essex CM6 1DG United Kingdom
44-13-7187-2406; fax: 44-13-7187-8378
www.great-dunmow.co.uk
SOURCES:
EngCustUse-1941, p. 64
FolkCal-1930, p. 115
YrFest-1972, p. 41
(c)
References in periodicals archive ?
Traditions include the annual Dunmow Flitch Trials - a kind of marital harmony pageant.