Pig's Face Feast

Pig's Face Feast

Sunday following September 14
A number of explanations have been offered for the custom of eating pig's face, or pork-chop, sandwiches on the Sunday following Holy Cross Day (September 14; see Exaltation of the Cross) in the Cotswold village of Avening, England. One involves the love of Matilda of Flanders (d. 1083), who later became the wife of William the Conqueror, for Brittric, Lord of Gloucester. When Brittric refused to reciprocate, Matilda married William and then, as Queen, ordered Brittric's imprisonment and, eventually, his death. She later repented and built a church at the place where Brittric had once ruled as lord of the manor. The church was completed on September 14, Holy Cross Day, and the Queen is said to have held a boar's head dedication feast. The wild boars were so delicious that the people of Avening continued to celebrate their church dedication by eating the same meat. Another legend says that the feast commemorates the slaying of a troublesome wild boar, which took place on or around this date.
Today there is an evening anniversary service in Holy Cross Church at Avening, after which the villagers participate in an 11th-century banquet headed by Queen Matilda and other historic characters in period costume. Pork sandwiches are also served in the local pubs.
CONTACTS:
Holy Cross Church, Avening Parish Council
28 Partridge Way
Avening, Gloucestershire GL7 1BQ United Kingdom
44-12-8565-6139
www.avening-pc.gov.uk
SOURCES:
DictDays-1988, p. 89
YrbookEngFest-1954, p. 128