History & Tradition

The Flitch of Bacon takes its name from the trials that award a flitch of bacon to married couples that can swear to not having regretted their marriage for a year and a day.

It does rather sound like a tradition from a different age and it is – the trials can be traced back to 1104 and the Dunmow flitch is referred to by Chaucer.

At Little Dunmow, the home of the Flitch of Bacon, the ceremony survived into the eighteenth century. Throughout its time, not surprisingly, the awarding of a flitch appears to have been a remarkably rare event! The tradition was revived in Victorian times, largely inspired by a book (The Custom of Dunmow) by William Harrison Ainsworth. The trials continue to this day and are held every four years. A jury is selected to cross-examine and attempt to show that the nominated couples are undeserving of the award. The trials were last held in in 2016 – see the trials website for a full history.