Bringing home the bacon in 2020!
The historic Dunmow Flitch Trials have taken place every four years since the 1100’s, with the exception of a few years during troubled times. The Trials are open to married couples from anywhere in the world - whatever their class or creed - and their task is to satisfy a Judge and Jury, of six maidens and six bachelors, that in 'twelvemonth and a day they have not wisht themselves unmarried again'. If they are able to do this they are awarded a flitch (or side) of bacon!
A reference to The Dunmow Flitch can even be found in The Wife of Bath's Tale within Chaucer's 14th century Canterbury Tales.
During the trials day, five shortlisted couples are 'tried' in a beautiful Marquee positioned on Talberts Ley, Great Dunmow and those who are successful are chaired shoulder-high to the town’s Market Place where they are required to take the ancient oath, - kneeling on pointed stones! On the day of the Trials a family fete takes place close to the marquee providing an area for refreshments, arena events, pony rides, classic cars etc. plus the opportunity for local community groups to have stalls. It is an ideal meeting place for local people and visitors, of all ages and from all walks of life, to get together and enjoy themselves. The Trials are organised by a dedicated team of volunteers from the local community who work hard to balance the tradition and heritage of the event with modern day preferences and also ensure that local businesses, clubs, organisations etc., become involved.
The Trials create a great community spirit for all local residents and attract several thousand visitors to the town bringing major benefits to local traders, pubs, hotels restaurants etc. The event can be enjoyed in many ways - from watching the full Trials; cheering the processions and the oath-taking ceremonies; having fun at the fete to enjoying refreshments in one of the town's many hostelries all with friends and family - no doubt making new friends in the process! The committee consider it paramount that everyone has a really "fun" day and become involved in the “spectacle”. Despite the high cost of staging the Trials, estimated at £33,000, the Committee have, to date, managed to cover their costs and endeavour to carry out two things with any surplus funds:
1) Distribute financial assistance to a range of local community and charity groups;
2) Maintain a small fund to enable the committee to commence arrangements for future Trials.
To generate more trials income, a Valentine Flitch Ball (by ticket purchase & open to all) will be held at the Foakes Hall, Great Dunmow on Saturday 15th February 2020. Further details can be found on their website www.dunmowflitchtrials.co.uk
We thoroughly support the importance to preserve the Dunmow Flitch celebration’s historic and unique tradition, which holds together the community and people from all walks of life in a good-natured and fun-filled manner, highlighting one of “Merrie England’s” jolly attractions!
We love this video from the 1949 Dunmow Flitch Trials! (courtesy of BBC Archives)