Can you prove you are happily married for the Dunmow Flitch trials?

flitch trials 2012

flitch trials 2012 - Credit: Archant

If you are a happily married couple and can testify that for the past year and a day you haven’t for a single day regretted being wed – then you could enter for the Great Dunmow Flitch Trials.

Except you will have to start the marital harmony pretty soonish because the next Flitch Trials – held every leap year – will be on Saturday, July 9 2016.

You will be asked a lot of questions, by lawyers, in front of a crowd who have all paid to be entertained.

The Dunmow Flitch Trials date back to the twelfth century. They are mentioned in William Langland’s Piers Plowman and in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale.

Couples who can prove the felicity of their union – and get the greatest laughs - are carried shoulder high through the village and win a flitch, a side, of bacon.

Five wedded pairs are put on trial between morning and evening in a specially erected marquee. The pairs are not competing against each other, all five can bring home the bacon, but each pair must convince the jury that they are a good match.

Over the years, couples from as far away as Australia have taken part. Past winners have come from Nashville, Tennessee and Spain, but mostly from Essex. They have to prove to a jury of lads and maids, dressed as if for a wedding, that they live in harmony. One of the barristers will stick up for the pig, saying it doesn’t deserve to be slaughtered.

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All the pairs will have been asked how they met and married. Everything they say will be taken down in evidence and innocent events may be given a scurrilous turn by the sharp witted lawyers.

Pat and Steve Schorah from Great Dunmow were winners in 2012. They had then been married for 44 years.

Pat told The Broadcast: “They interview you beforehand and we told them we met as students at teacher-training college and we saved up threepenny bits to buy my engagement ring. People asked, what was a threepenny bit.”

Pat added that the young jury took the process very seriously. “We had the Sheriff of Nottingham there in the 1980s. He was quite a character but the jury found for the bacon. They said his wife was such a little mouse that it couldn’t be an equal partnership.”