A super piece of Essex folklore will be enacted tomorrow at Great Dunmow in Essex. The famous Flitch Trials will attract thousands as they have for many years. I have visited this small town to interview those taking part at four-yearly intervals - the last event was in 2012 - and had the most wonderful time.
I used this topic within a chapter of a book written about ten years ago entitled Folklore of Essex published by The History Press and have outlined its amazing history. Records show that the story dates back to 1104 when the Lord Mayor of the Manor of Little Dunmow and his wife dressed themselves up as humble folk and begged blessing of the prior a year and a day after their marriage. The prior, impressed by this devotion, bestowed upon a flitch of bacon. In return the Lord gave his land to the priory on the condition that a flitch be awarded to any couple who could prove similar devotion. Things have moved on since then. These days a court is presided over by a judge, and a counsel of claimants and donors of the bacon, with a jury made up of 6 maidens and 6 bachelors.
The whole show is fabulous and is a very tongue in cheek affair with the successful couples carried by bearers in the Flitch Chair from the court in Talberds Ley to the Market Place where they take an oath kneeling on pointed stones. Unsuccessful couples have to walk behind the chair.
Why not check out the BFI's films and a video or two which shows excerpts from the 2012 Trials - you can pick up a little of the light hearted atmosphere over those rather special weekends. I loved meeting the couples who won the flitch of bacon; also the judge and members of the court. If you live within easy distance of Dunmow, do visit the town and enjoy a wonderful piece of Essex folklore.
This year, you will meet the judge who is our own super Dave Monk, presenter of BBC Essex. Wishing you an enjoyable visit.