Date set for Dunmow’s famous Flitch Trials!

CLEAR your diary, mark your calendar. A date has been set for the Flitch Trials, Dunmow’s longest running tradition.

The four-yearly trials and all the events that come with the main event are taking place on July 14, 2012.

Situated conveniently after Wimbledon and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and just before the London 2012 Olympic Games, the town’s oldest tradition is sure to be a great day out for all the family.

But what are the trials?

With all the new developments in Great Dunmow and the surrounding areas, such as Woodlands Park, Priors Green and Flitch Green, there may be those who remain clueless to the nature and tradition of the Flitch Trials.

It all dates back to 1104 when Lord of the Manor, in Augustinian Priory, Reginald Fitzwalter and his wife dressed themselves as humble folk and begged blessing of the Prior a year-and-a-day after marriage.

The Prior, impressed by their devotion, bestowed upon them a Flitch of Bacon. Upon revealing his true identity, Fitzwalter gave his land to the Priory on the condition a Flitch should be awarded to any couple who could claim they were similarly devoted.

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To put it in simpler terms; a married couple who can prove that they have not “wished themselves unwed” for a year and day will win a flitch of bacon - half a pig cut from nose to navel.

The reputation of the trials has grown ever since the first trials and is even mentioned in some of the most famous English novels ever written. In the Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer alludes to the Dunmow Flitch Trials in “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”.

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 six maidens and six bachelors, a Clerk of the Court to record the proceedings and an Usher to maintain order.

With each Trial comes amusement, entertainment, renewed community spirit and another piece of history in a beautiful and prosperous town.